The Democratic National Committee (DNC) this past Saturday embraced American nonbelievers for the first time, adopting a resolution that recognizes their contributions to society and to the Democratic Party.
This move by the DNC, which was unanimous absent one abstention, demonstrates that they are living up to the big-tent inclusive values they regularly espouse, though it also shows they recognize the value of courting the largest, fastest growing religious demographic in the nation. It was first passed in the DNC’s Resolutions Committee on Thursday.
At nearly one quarter of the total U.S. population, nonreligious Americans—one third of which are Democrats and nearly half of which are independent—will represent a sizeable voting bloc in the upcoming election. This resolution marks the first time a major U.S. political party has specifically courted religiously unaffiliated people across the nation.
The resolution says that the DNC Recognizes:
- The value, ethical soundness, and importance of the religiously unaffiliated demographic, a group of Americans who contribute in innumerable ways to the arts, sciences, medicine, business, law, the military, their communities, the success of the Party and prosperity of the Nation; and
- That religiously unaffiliated Americans are a group that, as much as any other, advocates for rational public policy based on sound science and universal humanistic values and should be represented, included, and heard by the Party.
“America was founded as a secular government charged with representing and protecting the freedoms of people of all faiths and none—I am proud to see the Democratic Party take that to heart by bringing secular Americans into the fold,” said Sarah Levin, Director of Governmental Affairs for the Secular Coalition for America. “It is high time for nonreligious voters to have a voice in the party, as we already have a large and growing impact each year at the ballot box. Nonbelievers in America have long been unfairly treated as pariahs in the political arena—this first-of-a-kind step was long overdue and deeply merited as the religiously unaffiliated community continues to grow its share of the U.S. electorate.”
The DNC’s resolution reflects current political trends, such as the creation in 2018 of the Congressional Freethought Caucus. These prominent public displays of welcoming are critical to changing a political culture that has long undervalued this large and growing bloc of Americans.
“We have seen record numbers of nonreligious candidates running for office,” said Ron Millar, coordinator of the Freethought Equality Fund PAC, which works to increase the number of open humanists and atheists in public office at all levels of government. “Hopefully, the DNC’s recognition of nonreligious voters will lead to more representation in elected offices, so that America’s lawmaking bodies more accurately reflect the growing number of nonbelievers in our great country.”
The PAC released a report this year showing that, among Democratic voters, atheism is no longer the political taboo it used to be. The report showed that among pro-choice, pro-marriage-equality Democratic voters, 72% say a candidate being atheist would make no difference in their vote, while 10% say they would be more likely to vote for an atheist candidate.
“Nonreligious Americans want to work with people of all faiths to build an effective government that serves and protects all of our rights equally,” continued Levin. “At the end of the day, it is critical that all political parties embrace and work with the secular community to ensure that policy is driven by science and evidence, not sectarian beliefs. Religiously unaffiliated Americans strongly identify with secularism, and will fight to protect the separation of church and state.”