Bernie Sanders defends humanist values while explaining why he doesn’t participate in organized religion.
Speaking with the Washington Post, Sanders said:
I am not actively involved with organized religion.
Sanders continued, noting that he believes in God, though not necessarily in a traditional manner:
I think everyone believes in God in their own ways. To me, it means that all of us are connected, all of life is connected, and that we are all tied together.
When Sanders says “all of us are connected, all of life is connected, and that we are all tied together,” that sounds like humanism.
Earlier this month, while campaigning in Iowa, the Democratic presidential hopeful told supporters it is “dangerous for governments to get deeply involved with religion.”
When asked for his thoughts on politicians who “base a lot of their legislation on their religious beliefs” at a recent campaign event in Iowa, Sanders answered:
Religious freedom in this country is part of our Constitution, and all of us agree with that. And you have many different religions, and people have the right, in this country, to practice the religion that they believe in.
But we also have a separation between religion and state. We know how dangerous it is, historically, for governments to get deeply involved with religion… Let’s not confuse and merge religion and state. That is not what our Founding Fathers wanted, and they were right.
At one point in the wide ranging discussion Kimmel asked Sanders if he believed in God, and if not, would that hurt his chances of being elected president:
You say you’re culturally Jewish, but you don’t feel religious. Do you believe in God and do you think that’s important to the people of the United States?
In a politically savvy yet compassionate response, Sanders answered:
I am who I am, and what I believe in and what my spirituality is about is that we’re all in this together. I think it is not a good thing to believe as human beings we can turn our backs on the suffering of other people.
Indeed, Sanders has been a consistent champion of secular values, and often sounds like a humanist. Earlier this year, in an uplifting viral video supporting Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign, the presidential hopeful declared:
The problems we face did not come down from the heavens. They are made, they are made by bad human decisions, and good human decisions can change them.
Bottom line: Sanders’ open and honest rejection of organized religion coupled with his promotion of humanist values is a welcome development in a political landscape that is often dominated by religious extremists.