Here’s an article in the New York Times about the church-state separation rally that I recently spoke at (I’m not in it, fyi).
From the time last spring that Jeanette Norman first heard of Amendment 48 in Colorado, she simmered with the desire to do something about it.
Conservative Christians and their allies had collected more than 100,000 signatures to put the measure on the Nov. 4 ballot. If enacted, it would define human life as beginning at the moment of conception, essentially turning abortion into murder without the need of overturning the Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe v. Wade.
As an atheist, Ms. Norman felt indignant about what she considered an intrusion of religious dogma into public policy. So she decided to hold a rally of like-minded nonbelievers, who might variously describe themselves as atheists, humanists, freethinkers or secularists. By various polls, such people accounted for nearly one-quarter of Colorado’s citizens.
Over two months, Ms. Norman made all the necessary arrangements — getting a parade permit, delineating the schedule for state officials, even buying a megaphone. She put out word about the rally not only through a variety of local atheist groups but also on the heavily trafficked Web site of Richard Dawkins, the evolutionary biologist who has become a best-selling author for his broadside against religion.
When the appointed day of Sept. 28 arrived, no more than three dozen supporters joined Ms. Norman on the steps of the State Capitol in Denver. No newspaper covered the event. The speechmaking and picketing concluded a half-hour before the rally’s designated closing time.
“I was very disappointed because I put so much work into it,” Ms. Norman, 42, a model for art classes, said this week in a telephone interview. “And so did some other people. But we were the only ones there. The secular community as a whole seemed so indifferent. It wasn’t like nobody knew. It was like nobody cared.”
Aw… cheer up Jeanette. Three dozen people isn’t that small a crowd. It could have been two dozen, or a dozen, or five, or just one… Or it could have been 42.
Anyway, it’s not like there have been many church-state separation rallies in Colorado. This is the first that I’ve known about at least, so don’t expect too big a turn out. We just need to do this more often, meet more people, and eventually we’ll get up into the hundreds range.
One thing though, I think that the NYT made a major error in sort of assigning advocacy for secularism to being only for Atheists. Before the rally we did, after all, contact several of the more liberal churches in the area like the Unitarian Universalists.
Secularism is not just in the best interests of Atheists, it’s in the best interests of all who wish to live in free countries.