(RNS) For the last decade, atheists, humanists and others secularists have worked hard to organize a “secular vote” that would counter the political clout of the religious right.
President-elect Donald J. Trump’s victory dealt that movement a body blow when he garnered 81 percent of the white evangelical vote and 60 percent of the white Catholic vote. Mormons, too, voted overwhelmingly for Trump.
Despite Trump’s not being a particularly religious person, his platform was seen as anti-secular in many atheist and humanist circles. He said he would appoint religiously conservative Supreme Court justices, ban Muslim immigrants, favor Christianity and repeal the Johnson Amendment, which prohibits certain tax-exempt organizations from endorsing political candidates — issues antithetical to organized atheism and humanism.
Political rallies on the Washington Mall, conventions in religious states such as Utah and Texas, and the creation of scores of local chapters of national secular advocacy groups like the Secular Coalition for America did not help the secular vote — sometimes called the “atheist vote” — coalesce into a voting bloc for Hillary Clinton, generally seen as the more secular-friendly candidate.
That has left atheist, humanist and secular organizations re-examining their political strategies and thinking about how to interact with a Trump administration, something most of them had not considered before election night.
“With the steady, numeric rise of freethinkers, people of color, supporters of the LGBTQ community, seculars and other progressive people declared victory far in advance of realizing it,” Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association, said in an essay for The Huffington Post on Wednesday (Nov. 9). ” … Those who went to sleep last night hoping for the best, they awakened to a very different reality.”