The weekly report on politics and secularism
by Johnny Monsarrat
Creationism Slips in Iceland… to Zero
In 1996, 87% of Icelanders were religious, but a recent Gallup poll found only 46% to be religious. More surprisingly, while 40% of young Icelanders say they are religious, 0% believed in creationism, the idea that God created the Earth and humans in modern form within the last 10,000 years.
That is not a typo. That is zero percent in Iceland, compared with 28% of American young adults (aged 18 to 29). Of course, any study will have a sampling error, so the headline can’t be completely correct on this Washington Post article, In This Country, Literally no Young Christians Believe that God Created the Earth. It could also indicate that creationism, if not actually at zero, has dropped socially so far in Iceland that creationists feel they cannot speak openly about their views to pollsters.
Humanist Student Cursed for Birthing Twins
It’s hard to believe, but in many areas of Africa, giving birth to twins is considered to be an evil sign. Somehow what families should celebrate as the most important moment in their lives is twisted into a faith-based excuse to punish the birth mother. Now this tragedy has happened to Ajok Kevin, a former trainee at HELU, the Humanist Empowerment of Livelihoods in Uganda. It is a secular school with humanist values where Ajok got training in Hair dressing and tailoring three years ago. Now she has been cast out of her family for giving birth to twins and has fled to HELU for sanctuary and is in desperate need of support while she rebuilds her life. Please contact Ayella Collins firstname.lastname@example.org to help.
Marco Rubio Believes in Religious Freedom
People of faith and people of no faith have something strong in common: they each want the freedom to hold their beliefs without being dictated to by others. Apparently US presidential candidate Marco Rubio agrees, given his reaction as we reported last week in responding to an atheist’s question at a campaign stop. Now an article in the Washington Post says his encounter with an open atheist question asker is an opportunity for him to crow about religious freedom for all. That means more separation of state from church. How about separation of church from state?
Read an interview with Justin Scott, the man behind the #AtheistVoter campaign, which has photos of Justin with several candidates. And in Iowa, atheists plan to assemble outside the GOP debate tonight, Thursday January 28.
Atheism Still the Biggest Political Liability in America
US presidential candidates lose voters if they have an affair, use recreational drugs, or are gay or Muslim, but not believing in God is still the worst thing you can do on the campaign trail, according to a new Pew study, Faith and the 2016 Campaign, with 51% of Americans saying this would make them less likely to vote for a candidate. That’s down from 63% in 2007, and a different 6% of Americans even said they’d be more likely to vote for an atheist, seeing it as a positive.
Better than nothing, but only 20% of Americans said that a candidate having attended a prestigious university was a positive, with 74% saying it didn’t matter. So much for knowledge being power.
Bernie Sanders Comes Out as Nonreligious
Given the US voter attitudes mentioned in the previous article, it was a strange move for Bernie Sanders to tell the Washington Post that he is not involved with any religious organization. “I think everyone believes in God in their own ways,” he said. “To me, it means that all of us are connected, all of life is connected, and that we are all tied together.”
It’s been an open secret for some time that Sanders is not very religious, but his courage in saying so openly is a watershed moment. Many former US presidents have likely been nonreligious in private. Former US President Ronald Reagan’s church attendance slipped, and President Obama once said on the campaign trail that that impoverished working-class voters “cling” to religion. Plenty of politicians talk about their faith in a way that seems more calculated than honest, including possibly Donald Trump.
If Sanders were the Democratic nominee, it would put discrimination against the nonreligious at the front of public discussion in a way never seen before in America. Attacks against the nonreligious seem to have no stigma in the United States, unlike attacks against other minority groups that deservedly result in cries of bigotry.
Or it might be a surprising non-issue, as Joe Lieberman’s Judaism was a non-issue when he was Al Gore’s vice presidential running mate in the 2000 US Presidential election. His faith was news for about a week when he was announced, and then everyone just shrugged and it passed from the media spotlight.