The Secular Coalition for America's Speech at the Reason Rally
(Given on 6/4/2016 by our Executive Director, Larry T. Decker)
Hello People of Reason!
Over the past 48 hours, many of you joined the Secular Coalition for America by attending our Advocacy Days. We met with more than 300 members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. We have expressed our views to them and we opened dialogues with them.
But over the years, we have watched them cave into the demands of the religious right even though the NONRELIGIOUS out number them. We have watched our lawmakers give away and compromise our civil rights way too much. Well I'm tired of the attacks on civil liberties and the NONRELIGIOUS, aren't you?
We are done being talked down to or being ignored by politicians and by pundits. We are done playing defense. We are done hoping that the rights guaranteed to us by the Constitution will be there for our children and grandchildren. We can't do it alone any longer. We need you to help us keep religion out of our governments.
Today is the day we, as secular Americans, go on the offense. The Reason Rally is our call to action and our warning to the religious right-a warning that if they want to continue to violate the Constitution, desecrate the dreams of our Founders, and impose their religious beliefs on the nation, they'll have to go through us first.
The hard fought victories for civil rights, reproductive rights, and LGBT equality will be hollow so long as religious privilege and exemption renders them null and void. The separation of church and state and the First Amendment are the foundation upon which all our civil rights depend.
So what does a Secular America look like?
In a secular America the way our Founders imagined, a same-sex couple doesn't have to endure the humiliation of being denied service at a restaurant because of who they are and who they love.
In a secular America, a woman's right to choose is absolute and is a conversation between ONLY her and her doctor.
In a secular America, NO ONE can be banned from the United States just because they are Muslim.
In a secular America, openly atheist candidates can run for office and win based on their qualifications and their ability to serve the people and not because they believe in a God.
In a secular America, your right to die with dignity and without pain won't be undermined by your neighbor's religion.
In a secular America, public schools don't teach the Christian Bible, they teach evidence-based science, philosophy, and history.
In a secular America, science, reason, and the overwhelming evidence that our planet is warming and our climate is changing won't be brushed aside as a hoax by a senator carrying a snowball into a chamber of THAT building.
In a secular America, "In God We Trust" doesn't adorn the halls of Congress, the walls of our courtrooms, or the money we work so hard for.
In a secular America, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, atheists, humanists, Baha'i, Wiccans, Buddhists, the nontheists... all of us, live our lives according to our personal worldviews.
That is what true religious freedom looks like.
Freedom, Equality, Inclusion, and Knowledge - OUR VALUES - are everything the religious right stands against, but it's everything WE STAND FOR.
The religious right says they are fighting for religious freedom. They are not. Nothing could be further from the truth. They are fighting to have their religious beliefs exempt from the law and their prejudice elevated above the law. They are doing this at the expense of your rights and my rights.
In the coming weeks, you are going to hear some politicians and pundits try to portray this movement as being against religion. It is not. Again, nothing could be farther from the truth.
The opposition will say that what we stand for is an attack on their faith. Well, you know that your religion is privileged when equality feels like oppression and must be "restored" by laws that make the First Amendment irrelevant.
I want to set the record straight. This isn't a rally against religion. THIS is the REASON RALLY. This is a rally that supports religious freedom for those who believe and those who don't. This is a rally that supports the freedom OF and, more importantly, the freedom FROM religion. This is a rally to unite ALL Americans around our shared secular values.
Because Secular Values ARE Americans Values.
How this Reason Rally is remembered will depend not on what we do here today, but what we do every day after we go home. I want this Reason Rally to be remembered as a turning point in American history as the day we started to repeal the religious privilege and exemption laws that the right has forced on the federal government, on our state houses, and on each of us. I want this Reason Rally remembered as the day Secular Americans from across this great nation took back our legislatures and restored reason and science to their proper place in our government, in our schools, and in our bathrooms!
The religious right's agenda is to undermine our core American values, and they will continue to do it so as long as we don't stand in their way. I am here to tell you: We are going to stand in their way!
Unless we act, their America could become reality. Their America comes at the expense of everyone's fundamental civil rights. Their America is a theocracy. The United States of America is NOT a theocracy. And, on our watch, it never will be.
Join us, help us, and fight every single day to keep our great land the democracy it was meant to be. Stand with us. We can't do it alone.
May reason prevail in America!
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