Representing the 25% of Americans who are not religious.-the Freethinkers.
As Humanists we promote human rights, and human flourishing through science and education over religious and political ideologies.
A little “equal time” for us secularists that are a growing segment of the US population. We are already bigger than the Catholics (who are now just 22% of the US population), and about equal in number now to the Evangelical Xians at 26% of the population.
(all figures are drawn from Pew Research and PRRI data).
And among the younger generations: Gen Y (Millenials) 25-40 year olds, and Gen Z -the hi-school and college age kids, the number of “no religious affiliation”-“Nones”- stands at 35-40%.
And that was obvious at the Fair with the number of teens and 20yr olds that came by the booth, who were really interested and glad someone like us were there -and they LOVED our stickers, especially the LGBTQ rights ones. Most of the really popular, well designed and clever stickers were from the SSA (Secular Student Alliance)-I emailed them with a big THNX! and commented that whoever is designing their graphics/slogans nowadays is doing a great job!
We have to be visible, recognizable, and professional. It is our job to let the public know we are there. We have to market ourselves so that people know we are here and non-belief becomes further normalized. Like I noted above, the secular voting bloc is now a big as the Evangelicals-who are an organized force and have had a 40 yr headstart on political influence since taking off during the Reagan years. They dominate the American political discussion and have taken over the Republican party under Trump. (And have made a fucking mess out of the US COVID response).
But we are making progress. Lots of it. Among the young and in the political arena.
The SCA (Secular Coalition for America) now has 14 members of Congress in the Freethought Caucus-founded by Jamie Raskin and Jared Huffman in 2018, barely 3 years ago. That caucus would have been utterly impossible to form anytime in the past 50 years but it is a reality today-and growing!
I gave away to 2 very excited teen girls, the 2 “Godless Bitches” t-shirts donated to us from Atheist Experience of Austin, Texas along with some other hats and various shirts. Both girls had asked: “How much are those t-shirts?”
Since we were provided those gratis, I said “It’s yours-free” to both of them.
They both freaked out of course and gratefully took them.
No-one ever asked about our MCFH t-shirts or the Atheist Experience t-shirts we had displayed, yet I found our MCFH t-shirts, donated by Paul McP the 1st time we went to the fair, to be VERY fashionable – with the proper modifications of course – to make them so much more comfortable in the open metal barn-Building C where our booth was located, in the rather sticky August heat of last week:
We had a great number of young and old stop by and take lit and stickers and wristbands and many made note of the fact that our booth was directly across from the Pro-Life HUGE Catholic anti-abortion and anti-assisted suicide (active euthanasia) booth. I tell them that the Fair Association has a real sense of humor-they have put my secular booths right across the aisle from them every time.
Catholic dogma claims that a unique soul-a person, is created at the moment of conception and the dividing ball of undifferentiated stem cells and the early tiny embryo-just forming its internal organs and a but a few of its 85 billion neurons in its brain that will take all of the last seven months to develop – is a full human being and therefore abortion is murder. Islam makes the same claim about your unique soul being created at the moment of conception, but isn’t so excited at all about abortion.
The Catholic booth information leaves out, of course, (and I’m sure most of the folks working the booth are unaware of most of the science of prenatal development)-that spontaneous abortion occurs regularly in the first few weeks of cell division and early embryonic development-estimates are 50-80% of these little critters (in most species, not just humans) don’t make it past the first few weeks-mostly due to genetic abnormalities. Prenatal development is a complex and delicate process involving billions of cells and thousands of genes-so there is lots to go wrong and it does. All just part of an intricate natural process.
But if you are believer in a God and follow the whole Catholic soul-person dogma, then you have to explain how your God creates all these little souls just to kill most of them off in the first few weeks. Your God is the biggest abortionist of them all! Being a Developmental Psychologist, I teach prenatal development in my Intro to Psych courses every semester, and that unthinking, unfeeling ball of cells is not a human being, nor is the tiny 1/4″ 1 oz. embryo that at early stages resembles a dog, frog, cat, or monkey in the making. It takes all 9 months to get a functioning brain and there is much controversy over whether the later fetus-that does feel pain and have basic reflexes, could have anything resembling waking consciousness yet. The soul is just another Bronze Age explanation for mind and the hope of an afterlife, and despite the fact after 150 years of neuroscience there is no evidence for the survival of any portion of a human’s personality and intellect beyond the death of the brain, nor of any afterlife, the churches of the world continue to teach this myth to another generation and use it to support their various dogmas. Like I said, at least 25% of Americans don’t buy religious claims based on Bronze Age myths anymore.
One rather bright little girl of grade school age asked me about some of our stickers, and I tell kids-“only if your parents would want you to have one” and I steer them to the uncontroversial “I Believe in Good” American Humanist sticker. She said yeah, her grandma was working in the booth behind her (motioning to the Catholic booth) and that grandma wouldn’t be real pleased she was checking out our stuff- but then she proudly said-“But I celebrated Pride Week!” and wanted one of the LGBTQ rainbow stickers. Even the youngest ones catch on to the coercion (and hardheartedness) inherent in religion.
We get some folks who really try to understand how many of us dont believe in god or religion, dont pray or believe in the Devil-it really mystifies some of them but they are very curious. Most are very kind to let us have our differences, but one lady reading our literature said:
“Does that say Freedom FROM Religion?” and I said: “Yes, Ma’am” and she walked off saying:
“Well as long as you are ready to got to Hell!”
That’s usually as bad as it gets….but THIS year I had the first real confrontation ever, where I was threatened by a very angry couple from another booth on the very first day.
And it wasn’t about religion.
This husband and wife came up to me and asked me if I was a Freethinker. I said sure. So then they asked what I thought of COVID and I gave a short sciencey explanation that didnt seem to please them. He goes to show me on his phone a website Id never heard of with “leaked” CDC memos calling us all sheep, etc. and I tried to point out to him that the website prolly wasnt reliable and I was very skeptical-at which point he got angry for me not buying his spiel.
She then proceeded to try to convince me that COVID was just being used by “them” (apparently the rich and powerful) to get rid of the excess population that we didnt need (they had no clue what the world population actually was) and that was why there are robots in McDonalds and no people-all part of the plan to weed out the extras thru COVID and the vaccines evidently. They weren’t vaccinated-not gonna be “sheeples” like us poor schmucks that got vaccinated AND a doctor from a Rockford hospital told her that 6 kids were dying there from the vaccine (which of course has been hidden by the media)…
At this point I’d had enough and just asked them to leave, and she insisted she was going to tell me the rest of the “evidence” for the real truth about it all. I again said just go, not interested, enough, and she said:
“NO, Im going to finish telling you this”…and I lost it and said “Get the fuck outa here, just go” and he went ballistic; “What did you say?”
And he got right in my face and banged on the table yelling:
“Im gonna fuck you up, Im gonna fuck you up…” – I shit you not. The two guys in the booths on either side of ours saw the whole thing and couldn’t believe this guy going off on me over this nonsense.
(Later on I realized how much I had just relived a scene from “The Big Lebowski”…with the nihilists!)
Their son came over and tried to pull him away saying “Dad, back off”-and I got up, walked away and found a cop in the next building and asked him if he would get a couple of belligerent people away from my booth.
They had gone back to their booth a couple of spots down, and I said to the cop that it was cool now. They motioned the cop over and proceeded to give them their version of things, I imagine. He was there maybe 5 minutes, and as he walked out past my booth kinda motioned to me like its OK. I think he figured out pretty quickly as did all those around our booth how out to lunch these two were.
COVID has been become a real flashpoint/nexus for zealous-religious type belief in conspiracy theories; needing to know better than what the science or the “elites know” or “want you to know”: having the REAL inside scoop. I don’t know their religious backgrounds but Ill bet you a fortune they weren’t secularists of any kind.
We didn’t even talk religion, they were just steamed that I wasn’t buying any of their whackadoodle COVID conspiracy shit. They were hot that I was not buying a whit of their obviously desperately held off-the-wall beliefs about COVID.
This weird, angry distrust of science or people with expert knowledge in their fields is nothing new among the highly religious in America.
This quote is from an interview with the late Christain blogger; Rachel Held Evans, that I posted in a previous blog On Science Denial:
“THE arrival of the “post-truth” political climate came as a shock to many Americans. But to the Christian writer Rachel Held Evans, charges of “fake news” are nothing new:
“The deep distrust of the media, of scientific consensus — those were prevalent narratives growing up,” she told me…“It was presented as a cohesive worldview that you could maintain if you studied the Bible,” she told me. “Part of that was that climate change isn’t real, that evolution is a myth made up by scientists who hate God, and capitalism is God’s ideal for society.”
The six of us that worked the booth this week had a lot of interesting and very civil discussions with all sorts of believers and non-believers alike. The couple I described are not at all representative of how most of the religious have ever behaved toward us Unbelieving Scum.
But the denial of science is at many levels: Creationism, the exclusion of unpleasant scientific info at the anti-abortion booth, COVID and/or vaccine denial, etc. Unfortunately, it is good that this significant denial of scientific consensus has come to the fore. We are seeing it play out daily in the news, with COVID as the key focus in the culture wars: It is no coincidence that it is the religious, and the often highly religious Republicans that are so entrenched in COVID vaccine or masking denial.
Information Kills Religion. The more you know, the harder it is to hold onto mythology and misinformation.
Just by being there at the Fair, in public, exchanging ideas, people learn something they didn’t know or were misinformed about us secularists. And not just that we don’t eat babies or arent angry people – “angry at God” – I just love that one – How the hell can you be angry at something you give a really high probability doesn’t even exist? High enough that you never think or worry about it.
The only thing to be angry at is the misinformation that religions and other sources promulgate. It is killing a lot of the religious as we speak. The more people come to question religious claims, religious thinking and indoctrination, the better.
It was a good week at the Fair.
end religion now.