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Thread: The 2020 Democratic Party platform is very good on separation of church and state

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    Administrator lpetrich's Avatar
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    The 2020 Democratic Party platform is very good on separation of church and state

    The 2020 Democratic Party platform - 92 PDF pages

    The Democratic Party’s 2020 Platform is a Historic Change for Secular Americans | Hemant Mehta | Friendly Atheist | Patheos
    This is a guest post by Sarah Levin, founder of Secular Strategies, a consulting firm working to mobilize religiously unaffiliated voters and empower lawmakers to champion secularism in the U.S. She’s also the program director for the Secular Democrats of America and Co-Chair of the DNC Interfaith Council.

    ...
    Thanks to Secular Democrats of America’s advocacy, the platform acknowledges the non-religious, commits to ending broad religious exemptions, and recognizes the paramount importance of separation between church and state.
    From the platform:
    Religious freedom is a core American value and a core value of the Democratic Party. Democrats will protect the rights of each American for the free exercise of his or her own religion. It will be the policy of the Democratic Administration to advocate for religious freedom throughout the world. Democrats celebrate America’s history of religious pluralism and tolerance, and recognize the countless acts of service of our faith communities, as well as the paramount importance of maintaining the separation between church and state enshrined in our Constitution.” (Page 48)

    “During the Trump Administration, too many of our religious communities have been victimized by acts of intolerance, bigotry, and violence. We will reject the Trump Administration’s use of broad religious exemptions to allow businesses, medical providers, social service agencies, and others to discriminate.” (Page 48)

    “Democrats believe that freedom of religion and the right to believe — or not to believe — are fundamental human rights. We will never use protection of that right as a cover for discrimination. We reject the politicization of religious freedom in American foreign policy, and we condemn atrocities against religious minorities around the world — from ISIS’ genocide of Christians and Yezidis, to China’s mass internment of Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities, to Burma’s persecution of the Rohingya, to attacks on religious minorities in Northeast Syria.” (Page 84)
    SL then went through party platforms on religion. The earlier ones were mostly good on church-state separation, and when they mentioned God, they mentioned that entity in rather benign ways, like "the power of falling water is a gift from God" from the 1940 Democratic platform. "Condemnation of discrimination on the basis of religion or creed was a common and recurring theme for both Republican and Democratic platforms."

    That changed in 1952.
    ... the Republican party platform made its mark as the first (but not the last) party platforms to conflate non-theism and Communism. The political ideology of Communism was, in that platform, drawn in comparison to a “godless dictatorship,” and that the protection of American guiding principles would only come with “continuing faith in Almighty God.”

    The Republican platform of 1952, when Dwight D. Eisenhower was nominated for a second term, really upped the ante, using the phrase “godless terrorism.” From that point onward, you could see an increasing tendency in Republican platforms to frame faith as an integral part of what it meant to be an American.

    Those were the early stages of the rhetoric alleging that American rights were derived from God, rather than from the U.S. Constitution.
    The Democratic Party's platforms, however, respected CSS, like saying in 1960: "It is our faith in human dignity that distinguishes our open free society from the closed totalitarian society of the Communists."
    In 1964, the Republican Party’s platform claimed that the nation was facing a moral decline because of “indifference” to religion. It lay blame of the so-called “moral decline and drift” of the time at the “indifference to national ideals rounded in devoutly held religious faith.” In the same platform, we also saw the appearance of a policy agenda with an eye toward tax exemptions for churches. The intent was clear. The Republican Party sought not to separate from religion but to “reaffirm and reapply it.”

    ...
    Nixon’s Republican Party religious agenda went further in 1972, when addressing family planning, funding for private religious schools, and prayer in schools. It’s important to note that by this point, Republicans were still at least trying to make the case that their agenda was within the boundaries of church/state separation, the existence of which is now outright denied by many Republicans who insist advocates of the principle are pulling it out of thin air and that the United States has always been a “Christian nation.”
    In the 1980's, the two parties diverged even more.
    ... the Party of Reagan frame free market capitalism in religious terms with statements like, “We assert the people’s stewardship of our God-given natural resources” and “the divine command to help our neighbor is directed to each individual and not to a bureaucratic machine… Not every problem cries out for a federal solution.”

    ...
    The Reaganites went even further in marrying free enterprise and religion in that 1984 platform, stating that “Free enterprise is fundamental to the American way of life. It is inseparable from the social, religious, political, and judicial institutions which form the bedrock of a nation dedicated to individual freedom and human rights.”

    ...
    When Republicans nominated George H.W. Bush in 1988, the insidious phrase “Judeo-Christian,” referring to values, made its debut. It was also included 20 years later in the party’s 2008 platform and has been included in every Republican platform since then. Much of the same language we’ve been discussing continued to ramp up until 2016. That’s when the platform began to resemble a church hymnal.

    ...
    The Republican platform, on the other hand, had an entire section dedicated to “religious liberty,” outlining a long list of policy priorities, from repealing the Johnson Amendment, to allowing taxpayer-funded adoption agencies to discriminate, to supporting public displays of the Ten Commandments. There was no discussion of respect for non-Christian religions, nor support for the separation of church and state, even in theory.

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    Administrator lpetrich's Avatar
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    Sarah M. Levin (@SarahMLevin) / Twitter - Secular Strategies - seems like it's only SML.

    In Convention Event Democrats Embrace the ‘Nones’ | Religion Dispatches
    What does it mean to put pluralism into practice? This is a serious question of civic life that the Left has unfortunately neglected, allowing the “respectable” Christian Right to weaponize the concept as part of the drive to legally enshrine an understanding of “religious freedom” as the right of conservative Christians to discriminate against members of othered groups. Thankfully, the Democratic Party is finally beginning to have serious conversations about pluralism as inclusion and equal accommodation in the public square, thanks largely to the efforts of secular advocates and activists.

    In 2016, Sarah Levin, then of the nonpartisan organization Secular Coalition of America, began working with Texan advocates of church-state separation who were looking for ways to give the non-religious a voice in the Texas Democratic Party. As a result of their collaboration, the TDP included three relevant planks in its party platform, including a demand to revoke a religious test for office still included in the Texas state constitution. While the provision isn’t officially enforceable, Levin calls it “an important symbol of the de facto religious test that nonreligious folks continue to face when they run for office.”

    More important for the future of secularism in the Democratic Party, however, is what happened next, when over 300 people turned up for the new Secular Caucus at the 2016 Texas Democratic Party Convention. As Levin says, “given the very limited marketing we were able to do preceding the event, there was really only one explanation—when Texas Democrats got their convention program and saw a Secular Caucus on the schedule, they made a beeline for it.”

    ... It probably doesn’t hurt that the “nones”—those unaffiliated with any religious community—are now the Democratic Party’s largest faith constituency.

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    Veteran Member braces_for_impact's Avatar
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    You wouldn't know it listening to some of these people. They're all about branding themselves the "faith and values" party over Trump now. To be fair, it's an awfully low bar.
    I take all knowledge to be my province.
    -Sir Francis Bacon

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    Contributor skepticalbip's Avatar
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    If the Democrats push too hard toward secular purity they stand a good chance of alienating two of the big demographic groups that make up their "big tent". Blacks and Hispanics are quite religious groups. A loss of even a quarter of these groups would pretty much insure a gigantic loss of Democratic elected officials.

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    Administrator lpetrich's Avatar
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    Watch These Non-Religious Lawmakers Talk About Being Atheists in Public Office | Hemant Mehta | Friendly Atheist | Patheos
    The conversation included several elected officials: Rep. Jared Huffman, Rep. Jamie Raskin, State Rep. Athena Salman of Arizona, and State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith of Florida. There was also a conversation with science communicator Ann Druyan, who produced the recent Cosmos series. All of them spoke about the importance of fighting back against religious supremacy in government, the scourge of Christian Nationalism and white supremacy, and how to get more non-religious Americans to vote.
    Make America Constitutional Again: Religious Freedom on the Ballot - YouTube That page's description:
    Secular Democrats of America hosted its inaugural event at the 2020 Democratic Convention, featuring Members of Congress, state lawmakers, leading scholars and activists to discuss how we can stand up for religious freedom, defend the constitutional separation of church and state, and mobilize the secular vote.
    The legislators' part starts at 24:46 in it.
    Maybe the best story for me was when Rep. Huffman talked about coming out as openly Humanist. He said he wanted to give Speaker Nancy Pelosi a heads up, just in case it caused any kind of problems for her. Instead of urging him not to do it, she fully supported him and told him the philosophy of Humanism was “beautiful.”

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    Secular Democrats of America – Secular Democrats of America
    We are a network of Democrats advocating for inclusion of nonreligious Americans and mobilizing to protect our secular democracy. We organize to protect religion freedom and defend the constitutional separation of religion and government.

    ...
    Secular Democrats of America is a federal political action committee that represents secular Democratic individuals and organizations. We advocate for secular governance, promote respect and inclusion of nonreligious Americans, and mobilize nonreligious voters. We support and empower our members with the resources, training, and support network they need to make an impact.

    ...
    While nonreligious and religiously unaffiliated Americans are not a monolith, they are largely united on issues such as the climate crisis, civil rights, immigration, and more, making for a powerful Democratic voting bloc. They comprise the single largest religious demographic in the Democratic party, growing from 19% in 2007 to one in three today.

    The nonreligious made up 17% of the electorate in 2018 and have the potential to deliver millions of votes to the Democratic party in 2020 and beyond. Secular Caucuses are leading from the ground up, presenting an agenda that, in partnership with our faith allies, will restore religious freedom and secular democracy in America while advancing a progressive agenda that aligns with the Democratic party platform.

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    In U.S., Decline of Christianity Continues at Rapid Pace | Pew Research Center
    By generations:
    Cohort Years Ages 2007 2018
    Millennials 1981-1996 22-37 25 40
    Generation X 1965-1980 38-53 19 25
    Baby Boomers 1946-1964 54-72 14 17
    Silent Generation 1928-1945 73-90 9 10

    By politics:
    Party 2007 2018
    Republican 10 16
    Democratic 18 34

    By race/ethnicity:
    Which 2007 2018
    White 16 27
    Black 12 21
    Hispanic 14 23
    So being unaffiliated isn't just a honky thing.

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