I find this life affirming. At the Democratic Convention yesterday, secular people acted up and got off script, shouting no to making inane references to “God” (whatever that ultimately means) in politics. Naturally, the Republicans pounced and demagogued the moment. But what a breath of fresh air, to hear so many people saying no.
And to reiterate: what was being said no to is the idea that “faith and belief in God is central to the American story.” These were people standing up, in other words, for reason, critical thinking, and science, and not accepting their marginalization in American life and the American story. What we heard from was, not the faith community, but the doubting community. There are lots of us, and we won’t be silenced.
And this brings me to Mitt Romney. In a speech to Republicans on December 6, 2007, he tried to drive secular people like me to America’s margins as the invisible and dehumanized others. David Brooks commented at the time:
Romney described a community yesterday. Observant Catholics, Baptists, Methodists, Jews and Muslims are inside that community. The nonobservant are not. There was not even a perfunctory sentence showing respect for the nonreligious. . . . In this calculus, the faithful become a tribe, marked by ethnic pride, a shared sense of victimization and all the other markers of identity politics.
As for me, and as a member of the doubting community, I will not be treated as a second-class citizen in my own country. I am not here under the patronizing sufferance of religious believers, and I will not be closeted. In the civic square, and as a matter of law, I am the equal of Muslims, Hindus, Jews, pagans, and Christians living here, and I will speak my views concerning all matters of interest to me—including religious matters. And I am not going away.
By the way, Abraham Lincoln seems to have been a member of the doubting community as well. He was an agnostic. Did you know that? See here.