Via Washington Post online
American values are changing. Or that’s what the secular groups are saying, and they might be right.
On Nov. 6, voters throughout America showed what they truly wanted, and to the chagrin of conservatives, they wanted gay marriage, abortion, marijuana, big government, and Obama. After the increase of the nones, is this another sign that the United States in moving steadily toward secular values? And if it is, should we be okay with this?
Greta Christina, an atheist blogger, seems to think this is the case, and she’s pretty happy about it:
“The political values that are most common among atheists — support for LGBT rights and same-sex marriage, support for birth control and abortion, support for evidence-based drug policy, opposition to religion being intertwined with government, opposition to laws about sex being based on religion, opposition to laws in general being based on religion — are, increasingly, American values.”
We can look at this one of two ways: 1) America is sinking into the depths of sin and destruction and must, now more than ever, be shown the light. 2) America is finally coming out of the oppressive nature of a government influenced by religious intolerance, but there is still much work to do.
The nones seem to be leaning in the direction of “still much work to do” and they are demanding to be heard by the government. As one of the biggest groups in America the nones played a major part in the 2012 elections. But for many, even though they may have voted for Obama, the religious leaning of the president is still too much for comfort. After all, he did only receive a C in the Secular Coalition of America’s scorecard. But he still marked better than Romney’s F. Obama is pro-gay marriage and pro-abortion, so naturally he is the better candidate for most nones.
Lauren Anderson Youngblood, communications manager with the Secular Coalition, said the Obama administration needed to start taking the nones more seriously.
“The numbers don’t lie. They are an indicator of our untapped potential and politicians who want our vote need to focus on making decisions as lawmakers with reason and science, not theology. They need to tone down the religious rhetoric and when they do mention religious groups, mention us too, because we too are constituents and Americans and we deserve inclusion in our government.”
Will politicians now become more liberal to appease the growing secular population in America? After all, if you believe in progressive ethics (as Christian seems to) that change as the culture and population change, than this would be a necessary, and right, mindset for politicians to have. What was unheard of and viewed as wrong, both in the Bible and in society, has now become much more widely accepted. Therefore, the values of the culture are slowly changing and the “progressive” morals are evolving with it.
So Christina’s point in her blog post is that American values are changing for the better. She would say we are climbing out of the intolerant dogma of religion, and accepting the new ethics that society is in the process of deciding upon. This seems like a dangerous path to walk down. If society decides, as a whole, that something is right, is it right? The acceptance of that particular value must not be the end of the conversation. Were the Aztecs right when the majority of their population decided it was necessary to sacrifice their citizens to the gods? Was America right when we decided it was okay to treat African Americans as slaves?
Carl Coon, a progressive humanist, is adamant that progressive ethics is the way society must work. He claims that as society advances we gain the ability to make better decisions. In essence, we are becoming smarter so we no longer need to cling to the traditions of “old religions.”
There is a ferment here, but it is not aimless. There is a direction. A global society driven by exploding technological capabilities is seeking new consensuses about a whole new galaxy of problems.
So our values do change, and they are supposed to change – or so all these people keep saying. And the election just showed all Americans what most of them were already thinking. “This election was, to a great extent, a referendum on secular values versus the values of the theocratic religious right — and secular values won,” Christina said.
But wait! I can think of at least 48 percent of Americans who would be dismayed at this prediction. If secular values equal American values then where does that leave the 48 percent, and maybe more, who oppose Obama, gay marriage and abortion? In other words, 48 percent still oppose secular values – their values haven’t changed. Many of them probably still believe in the “old-fashioned theism” and “old religions” Coon opposes. Secularists would say this just means America still has far to go, but the reality may be that we have already gone too far.
Perhaps the view of the religious right can be summed up with this comment by Richard Land of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.
“Clearly, we face a new moral landscape in America, and huge challenge to those of us who care passionately about these issues. We face a worldview challenge that is far greater than any political challenge, as we must learn how to winsomely convince Americans to share our moral convictions about marriage, sex, the sanctity of life, and a range of moral issues. This will not be easy. It is, however, an urgent call to action.”