Have you experienced bigotry or discrimination in the United States due to your atheism? The Openly Secular project wants to hear from you!
Here’s the press release that was posted today on the Secular Student Alliance website:
SSA Joins “Openly Secular” Coalition With Goal of Fighting Discrimination
New Coalition Formed to Highlight and Overcome Discrimination Against Nonreligious & Atheists
Group Calls Itself “Openly Secular”;
Makes Call To Action for Victims to Share Their Stories
Columbus, Ohio – The Secular Student Alliance has partnered with a coalition of secular groups to form a new organization called Openly Secular. The goal is to highlight and overcome discrimination in America.
Atheists and other nonreligious people not only face discrimination on a regular basis, but the prejudice often goes unrecognized because it can be socially acceptable to distrust those outside the majority religious faith. A Gallup poll in 2012 found almost half of Americans would vote against a well-qualified presidential candidate from their party, if that person was an atheist.
“Our mission is to is to eliminate discrimination and increase acceptance by getting atheists, freethinkers, agnostics, humanists and all nonreligious people to be open about their beliefs,” said Todd Stiefel, Chair for the Openly Secular coalition and founder of the Stiefel Freethought Foundation. “By being open about our beliefs and values, we can show that we, like all people, are worthy of love and kindness undeterred by religious differences.”
“After I spoke openly about being an atheist, I lost many friends and was threatened with rape and death. My own representative publicly called me an ‘evil little thing.’ All of this, simply because I did not believe in God,” said student activist Jessica Ahlquist, who successfully sued her public high school in 2012 to remove a religious prayer banner from the auditorium. “But this experience has not discouraged me. Today, I hold my head high as a proud, secular American.”
Other cases of discrimination against people who are nonreligious have gotten limited media attention, including a high school student kicked out of his own home, a man who lost child custody rights, and two women who were denied U.S. citizenship. U.S. Representative Barney Frank came out as gay 26 years before he felt comfortable being an open atheist, and then, only after leaving office. Each of these cases underscores the need for new momentum.
Openly Secular is headed by leaders from the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, the Secular Coalition for America, the Secular Student Alliance and the Stiefel Freethought Foundation. They are joined by a group of over 20 prominent national partner organizations from the secular movement. Openly Secular hopes to engage both nonbelievers and believers in a dialogue about acceptance, love and equality.
The coalition is now looking to expand to bring in religious and civil liberties groups as allies mutually interested in ending discrimination. Openly Secular has launched a new online outlet for people to share their own stories of discrimination. There’s a form at this link: secular.org/stories.
“We want to live in a world where there are no social costs for being nonreligious, where families and communities remain whole even when some have moved away from religion,” said Robyn Blumner of the Richard Dawkins Foundation.
Contact: Jamila Bey Director of Communications Secular Student Alliance
Phone: (614) 441-9588
Phone: (916) 769-7976
Reminder to Secular Student Alliance students: