Responding to an article lamenting the rise of secularism in New Hampshire, State Representative Brandon Phinney, above, emphasised the positive aspects of the trend and said it was ‘rather foolish to hold onto archaic beliefs that deny reality’.
Phinney, according to this report, is the highest-ranking known openly atheist Republican politician in the country.
The article, published earlier this month by Fosters.com, quoted Father Gary Belliveau, who leads a parish in Portsmouth, NH, as saying:
What I think we’re facing today with secularism is basically, there’s been the shift from a reliance upon God and a deeper appreciation for the things beyond what we can see and figure out, to the reliance on self.
Phinney pointed out that New Hampshire has a history of higher secular demographics than other parts of the country and said:
I fail to see the problem with this cultural shift. In an age of information, scientific progress and exploration and the understanding of the workings of our world, it is difficult and to be frank, rather foolish, to hold onto archaic beliefs that deny reality.
In these modern times of religious extremism, I do not see the value of belief systems that consistently devalue others by telling them they’re bad people for not believing the same things or having some sort of moral superiority. Also the amount of hatred from these groups that manifest into violence turns people away.
People are rejecting religion because it just does not coalesce with our modern times.
The reliance of self is something to be celebrated. By being able to rely on ourselves instead of unseen forces that cannot be proven to exist, we encourage personal responsibility, personal freedom and autonomy with others. Love, morality, justice, etc. are not strictly religious doctrines, but originate in our human nature to do good for ourselves and for others …
Religion has no place in governance and should be kept separate as we are not a theocracy. Our federal and state Constitutions protect religious freedom but we should respect the freedom from religion as well. We are no more a Christian nation than we are a Muslim country or a Jewish country or an atheist country. There is plenty of proof in history, such as the Treaty of Tripoli, that highlights the fact the United States of America was not founded on the Christian religion.
We should celebrate our independence, our uniqueness and our resolve to survive and thrive. Religion is important to some but it is not for everyone. True diversity is acceptance of our differences, not drawing the lines in the sand between us.
“I have had many a discussion and debate with dozens of people on atheism and politics,” Phinney told The Friendly Atheist.
Although fearful I am of this kind of thing affecting my political office, I will always stand firm in my beliefs (or unbelief).
New Hampshire ranked in the top 10 least religious states in the country, according to a recent Gallup poll. Mississippi was the most religious state.
New Hampshire has a Republican governor and both chambers of the state legislature are controlled by Republicans.