A button from the "I'm Secular and I Vote" campaign via FFRF.org

Secular voters are tired of being ignored during elections. That’s why the Freedom From Religion Foundation has launched the “I’m Secular and I Vote” campaign.

During election years, we atheists and agnostics have to pinch ourselves to remember we exist. Candidates have been so schooled in pandering to Bible Belters and the evangelical right has thrown its king-making power around so long that popular portrayals of the influence of religious voters are vastly exaggerated.

More the pity then that no one is wooing the “Nones,” the one-quarter of the adult U.S. population and one-third of all Millennials who identify as “nonreligious.” Political campaigns and parties haven’t caught up with the changing demographic that secular voters are the fastest-growing segment of the population by religious identification.

Pew Research Center recently reported that the Nones outnumber Roman Catholics today and technically form the largest single “denomination.” That should be big news to any campaign interested in reaching voters.

A major survey of FFRF membership (with 8,000 of our 23,500 dues-paying members participating) found that nonbelievers are highly educated and independent-minded. A quarter are veterans, a third are volunteers and 97 percent are registered voters (20 percent higher than the general population).

A full 70 percent decline to affiliate themselves with one of the major political parties, and more than 20 percent identify as independent voters. Thirty-six percent describe themselves as progressive or liberal.

So why aren’t seculars courted and treated as election-year VIPs?

Since President Obama was first elected, the number of religiously unaffiliated adults in America has grown by nearly 20 million. Yet most candidates and media outlets continue to focus their time on traditional religious groups. So we’re taking action to be more vocal and coordinated as a demographic that should not be ignored.

Our membership is concerned about the growing power grab by the Religious Right and its campaign to make over our secular laws in its own image. Freethinkers know that it is vital to work preserve civil liberties and keep religion out of government. In addition to supporting the separation of church and state, respondents list civil rights, women’s rights, reproductive freedom, environmental protection, marriage equality, and death with dignity among their top concerns.

The large and diverse network of free thought associations is now coordinating major national events, including the June 4 Reason Rally in Washington, D.C. To assist in our shared election-year goals, our organization is running ads and conducting national outreach to engage voters through our positive message of “I’m Secular and I Vote.”

Tens of millions of secular voters are waiting for a candidate who acknowledges them as a group and speaks forcefully about keeping religion out of government. Politicians need to start paying attention. Our campaign is designed to ensure that they do.

Annie Laurie Gaylor is co-president and co-founder of Freedom from Religion Foundation, a national nonpartisan and educational nonprofit organization based in Madison, Wis., that acts as a state/church watchdog and does not endorse candidates. Learn more about the “I’m Secular and I Vote” campaign at www.FFRF.org.


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