Sounds like humanism: “My spirituality is that we are all in this together” – Bernie Sanders.
Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders promotes the values of humanism while discussing the intersection of his spirituality and his progressive politics during a Democratic Party town hall meeting in New Hampshire.
At one point during Wednesday’s town hall meeting CNN host Anderson Cooper asked Sanders the following question:
You’re Jewish, but you’ve said that you’re not actively involved with organized religion. What do you say to a voter out there who says— and that who sees faith as a guiding principle in their lives, and wants it to be a guiding principle for this country?
It’s a guiding principle in my life, absolutely, it is. Everybody practices religion in a different manner. To me, I would not be here tonight, I would not be running for president of the United States if I did not have very strong religious and spiritual feelings.
I believe that, as a human being, the pain that one person feels, if we have children who are hungry in America, if we have elderly people who can’t afford their prescription drugs, you know what, that impacts you, that impacts me. And I worry very much about a society where some people spiritually say, it doesn’t matter to me, I got it, I don’t care about other people.
So my spirituality is that we are all in this together and that when children go hungry, when veterans sleep out on the street, it impacts me. That’s my very strong spiritual feeling.
Sanders’ reply is at once both politically savvy and a compassionate expression of humanist values.
Sanders does not deny that he is “a man of faith” for this would be political suicide. Instead, Sanders articulates what his “very strong religious and spiritual feelings” look like. And it so happens those feelings look a lot like humanism.
Sanders is not a Christian. Yet he is running for president of a country that is at times hyper-religious, and dominated by Christianity. Thus, for Sanders, navigating the religious question is a tricky proposition.
However, Sanders has been remarkably consistent and powerful in dealing with the religion question. Recently, in a wide ranging discussion on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!,” host 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?
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.
Last month, speaking with the Washington Post, Sanders said:
I am not actively involved with organized religion.
However, Sanders continued, reinforcing his humanist stance by noting 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,” or “my spirituality is that we are all in this together” that sounds a lot like humanism.
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.
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