Washington, DC—Today four national organizations representing atheists, agnostics, humanists, and secular Americans released statements condemning the Trump Administration’s lack of outreach to the nontheist community.
In March 2017, leaders representing American Atheists, the American Humanist Association, the Center for Inquiry, and the Secular Coalition for America sent a joint letter to the White House welcoming Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States. The letter, made public for the first time today, urges President Trump to continue the Obama Administration’s policy of regularly engaging with the nontheistic community. In closing, the four signatory organizations urge President Trump to call upon them as a resource so they can work together to “ensure religious freedom and inclusion for all Americans throughout [his] tenure as President of the United States.”
After nearly five months, the White House has yet to respond to the letter or offer any formal recognition to the one-quarter of Americans who identify as nonreligious. Over the same time period, the Trump Administration has pursued a policy agenda that blatantly privileges religion and is overtly hostile to the separation of church and state. These actions include: issuing an Executive Order calling for the IRS to relax the ban on churches engaging in electoral politics, instituting a religiously-discriminatory travel ban, appointing an Attorney General who explicitly slandered secular Americans during his confirmation hearing, and, as recently as Wednesday, repeating a frequently used campaign talking point that implies patriotism requires belief in a God.
Because of these policies and continued incendiary rhetoric, the four signatories to the letter are again calling on the White House to meet with them and speak to the concerns of nonreligious Americans, the single largest “religious group” in the United States.
Below are statements by representatives from each of the nontheist organizations signed on to the letter.
This administration has continually appeased and kowtowed to the most extreme elements of the religious right. Their attacks on the foundation of the separation of church and state and their use of religious as a weapon against LGBT people, religious minorities, and women have confirmed our fears that the President would allow religious fundamentalists to drive the agenda in this White House. President Trump needs to realize that the tide has turned on religion in America. Our community is growing while the ranks of the extremists he has aligned himself with continue to shrink. Atheists demand equality, respect, and a seat at the table in American politics and we will fight at every step to secure those goals.
David Silverman, President, American Atheists
Despite divisive campaign rhetoric, many humanists were willing to give President Trump a chance to establish an inclusive Administration, but his refusal to meet with the nontheistic community and his administration’s open hostility to the separation of religion and government is profoundly disturbing. President Trump holds an office that isn’t a platform for promoting a particular faith and he has an obligation to represent all Americans.
Roy Speckhardt, Executive Director, American Humanist Association
In an attempt to respect the office of the presidency and work constructively with those with whom we may disagree, the secular community reached out to President Trump to open a dialogue. Rather than greet that gesture as an opportunity, Trump ignored it and has gone on to question the patriotism of nonbelievers. When fealty to the president is the only yardstick by which one’s patriotism is measured, as it is in this administration, we happily fail that test. The nonreligious, humanists, and atheists, make up a significant proportion of America’s citizenry. That Trump finds us unworthy speaks volumes about him.
Robyn Blumner, President and CEO, Center for Inquiry
As patriotic Americans, we find it disheartening that the Trump Administration is willing to cast us as second-class citizens. The signatories of this letter represent a community that now includes one-quarter of all Americans and who deserve to a have a seat at the table. We believe firmly in the expressed intent of the first 16 words of the very First Amendment to the Bill of Right which promises that true religious freedom must include both the freedom of and freedom from religion. I hope President Trump will take us at our word that we wish to be a resource to him and recognize that, as President of the United States, he should meet with those who represent such a large constituency of Americans.
Larry T. Decker, Executive Director, Secular Coalition for America