Nebraska Democrats this past Saturday became the third state party since 2016 to adopt a caucus focused on advocating on behalf of non-religious citizens.
The Party’s unanimous vote of support marked a long-awaited victory for the Nebraska Secular Democrats (NSD), which had been organizing since March 2018 to gain democratic affiliation. With the caucus now established, the group plans to promote secular values and the separation of church and state within the party, while working to increase voter turnout among religious “nones” and support nontheistic and allied candidates.
“As an atheist…it is my hope that the Democratic party is a big enough tent that my way of looking at the world can be accepted and understood,” said Tom Gray, a Democratic Party delegate and Chair of the NSD Action Committee. “While I and the religious agree on many of our conclusions, we get at it from a different perspective and I think that perspective matters.”
More Secular Voters
Secular Americans are already the largest single bloc of potential voters at roughly 29% of adults. Of those Americans 33% are Democrats, 11% Republican, and 47% Independent. By officially accepting a Secular Caucus into the party, Nebraska Democrats are taking a big step toward courting this large and growing bloc of voters.
“Right now we’re one of the least represented groups in this country,” said Joseph Couch, chair of NSD, in testimony supporting the creation of the caucus. “I thank the Nebraska Democratic Party for their support of this caucus and I’m so excited to get to work to elect more Democrats.”
Timely, Unanimous Decision
This additional voice in Nebraska politics is timely as legislation was introduced this session to require schools to display “In God We Trust”. NSD argues that the motto, which was adopted in the 1950s, isolates nonreligious students and violates the U.S. Constitution’s clause separating religion and government.
“Now more than ever before, people agree that secular values are American values,” said Sarah Levin, Director of Grassroots and Community Programs for the Secular Coalition for America. “As the number of nonreligious Americans continues to grow, we are thrilled to see state and national parties take steps to formalize secular voters’ role in the political process and to protect against the dangerous entanglement of church and state.”
Nebraska Democrats are not the first state party working to reach secular voters. The first comparable caucus was formed in 2016 in Texas, followed by Arizona in 2017. And it’s not just Democrats embracing nontheists, the national Libertarian Party established a secular caucus last summer.