The letter I wrote after Election Day
This is the letter I wrote on November 9, the day after the presidential election. That day, countless supporters of the Secular Coalition emailed me to ask how the outcome of the election would impact the separation of church and state. The letter below is my honest response to that question. The stakes are higher than they've ever been and the road ahead will be difficult, but with your continued support the Secular Coalition for America will be there to defend our secular government, science-based policy, and nontheistic Americans.
November 9, 2016,
On January 20, 2017, Donald J. Trump will be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States. What happens next is up to us. Throughout his campaign, Donald Trump repeatedly pledged that, if elected, he would do everything he could to advance the religious right's dangerous agenda. Just a few items on this nightmare policy wish list include:
Repealing the Johnson Amendment. Passed in 1954, this Amendment safeguards the separation of church and state by prohibiting houses of worship from endorsing political candidates. Two bills have already been introduced that would repeal the Johnson Amendment, which will allow pastors to campaign for politicians from the pulpit, all while benefiting from tax-exempt status. The repeal of this crucial safeguard would effectively turn churches into religious Super PACS. Billions of church dollars would become dark money that could be funneled to lawmakers and politicians.
Signing the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) into law. FADA would allow the government to do business with contractors who discriminate for religious reasons. Currently, 26 million Americans are employed by federal contractors and if FADA is passed, they could be fired for being LGBT, a religious minority, a nontheist, or even a single mother.
Sending taxpayer money to religious schools: Under the guise of promoting school choice, the religious right has fought hard to get taxpayer money to pay for religious education through voucher programs. School vouchers are a centerpiece of President-elect Trump's education plan and Rep. Steve King (R-IA) already introduced a bill in the House, deceptively titled "Choices in Education Act," that would make this a reality. This bill would use your tax dollars to pay for classes that teach students the Earth is 6,000 years old.
Appointing justices to the Supreme Court who are hostile to secularism. President-elect Trump has pledged to appoint Supreme Court Justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade. Under marching orders from the religious right, the President-elect may also appoint dozens of federal judges who will elevate religious bigotry above civil liberties and civil rights.
The only way to prevent this from happening is to stop bad Supreme Court nominees from being confirmed and stop these bills from passing Congress. With 60 votes needed in the Senate to pass bills or confirm nominees, we need to make sure that our friends in the Senate know they have our support and that we expect them to do what is needed. Public pressure on both the members of the U.S. House and Senate will make the more moderate members think twice before supporting the extremes of the religious right.
The Secular Coalition for America is your main line of defense against the religious right in Washington. We're working every day on Capitol Hill, lobbying for you and your values, educating lawmakers about the rapidly expanding (and increasingly visible!) nonreligious demographic, and advocating for secular public policy.
I know you might be tired of hearing about Trump's victory but politics doesn't begin and end on Election Day. You made your voice heard on November 8 but you can never stop standing up for what's right. In the coming months, the theocrats on Capitol Hill are going to throw everything they have at us. We are ready to fight. We are ready to protect the separation of church and state. We are ready to defend science-based policy. And you can bet we are ready to remind all of them about the one-quarter of Americans who are nonreligious.
Larry T. Decker
Become a Secular Activist
The opinions expressed here by our bloggers, viewers, and posters do not necessarily represent the opinions of the Secular Coalition for America. These views are those of their individual authors alone.