Photo by Taylor Soule, photo editor
Barcus is a senior physics, astronomy and math major and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dorando is a senior law, politics and society major and can be contacted at email@example.com
As atheists, religion plays no role in our lives. When we enter the voting booth, we worry about what will make this life better for all, not what would improve our prospects for the “next” life. Our ideologies are based upon the experiences we have had and the moralities these experiences have bred in us. We strive to base our decisions on our observations, and upon the rational evidence we can collect. Politics affect all Americans, while religion is agreed on by few. To have a government that governs for all of the people, we must use a standard of law to which we can all relate.
The views of atheists grow and change with the times as opposed to religious views, which are dictated by theoretically eternal scriptures. Clearly religions have changed their views on some topics, but this is merely proof that our views must be based on the world in which we live and not that of our distant ancestors. The belief that one’s religion is unerringly correct can lead to resist changes needed for a fairer and more equal society. Examples of religious politics hindering change include women’s rights, LGBTQ rights and the refusal to accept confirmed science.
If people argue from a religious basis, they believe that they have answers from the divine dictating their positions. Religion often has a specific right or wrong, good or evil position. This shuts down debate, because no amount of evidence can convince someone with a religious answer that their god is incorrect. Since most of the problems our government deals with are shades of gray, a black and white view of them is unhelpful. When society does not debate the issues that concern our country as thoroughly as possible, we will fail to make the best possible decisions.
When religion is allowed to be a major factor in a country’s politics, dangerous situations often arise. Take Israel as a prime example. Religion is used by other Middle Eastern countries as a reason to destroy Israel, and Israel in turn claims divine right to own lands that had been owned by others for centuries. Obviously, the situation is more nuanced than this, but perhaps the two sides could negotiate more easily without the absolutism of religion pervading their politics.
Atheists do not ask people to abandon their religious views — they merely wish not to have the religious views of others imposed on them. As President Barack Obama wisely said, “Democracy demands that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values.” The concerns of the religious must be heard, but their proposals must be grounded in rational and not solely religious terms. In this way, all people are able to contribute their ideas to our democracy and build a society that favors no one group over the other, but works for the good of us all.