Guest post by Amanda Knief, American Atheists’ National Legal and Public Policy Director.
My family lives in Iowa, where the presidential election either invigorates you or enervates you. For my mom, this year the process has gotten her involved in ways she has not been in many years. She caucused with the Democrats and volunteered to be a delegate at the Black Hawk County convention that was held on Saturday, March 12.
Now, my mom is religious but she is also an atheist ally. Those of you who have ever heard me speak will likely have heard me talk about the support I get from my parents—which can be hard to come by for an atheist raised in a religious home.
When she got to the county convention on Saturday, Mom was expecting a rather long and dull day of bickering about the party platform. Then, someone handed her an amendment to the proposed 2016 Democratic platform that got her attention. The platform begins with a Preamble that describes the “truly free, democratic and just society” the party is seeking. The second paragraph’s first sentence reads as follows:
We believe the Democratic Party should promote progressive government that serves all the people consistently and fairly, irrespective of age, race, gender, disability, religion, national origin, native language, sexual orientation, income level, marital status, or geographic residence.
What caused my mom to get excited was that the proposed amendment would add “non-religion or lack of religion” to this statement. So, if adopted, the sentence would read thus:
We believe the Democratic Party should promote progressive government that serves all the people consistently and fairly, irrespective of age, race, gender, disability, religion, national origin, native language, sexual orientation, income level, marital status, non-religion or lack of religion, or geographic residence.
(screenshot from the convention)
According to the county convention rules, at least a third of the attendees had to want to debate an amendment in order to discuss it before the vote. My mom said there were definitely some people who wanted to debate it.
One guy, sitting behind her, starting muttering about why the language was needed. Mom turned around and said, “It’s needed because atheists are discriminated against every day and deserve to be recognized.”
The man replied, “How would you feel if your kid was an atheist?” My mom snapped back, “She is an atheist!”
The man was silent for a moment and then asked, “How do you handle that?” Mom replied, “I’ve always told my children to live the best lives they could and so long as they are not hurting themselves or others, I will love and support them.”
When the amendment was called, it passed by voice vote without debate.
Amanda Knief is the national legal & public policy director for American Atheists but the thoughts and words published here are her own. She lives in Washington, D.C. with her Yorkie, Sagan.
Rock Branch Farm by TumblingRun; https://www.flickr.com/photos/tumblingrun/6078749182/
Screen shot provided by Justin Scott.
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