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Post-Election Healing: An Atheist's Perspective

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This presidential campaign has been the most divisive and hate-filled in my lifetime, and I am both shocked and disappointed by the outcome. However, here are a few thoughts on turning some campaign lemons into lemonade as we move forward. 1. Sexual Assault: This used to be synonymous with attempted or actual rape. Fortunately, the definition has expanded, bringing support for women to come forward when men act inappropriately. I’m encouraged by the song of Nobel-prize winning Bob Dylan, “The Times, They Are a-Changin.” But for women who think the times have not changed enough to allow them to go public, I recommend an even older song, “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter.” Write down all relevant details in a letter to yourself. Drop it in the mail and when you receive your postmarked letter, place it unopened in a safe deposit box to be unsealed at an appropriate time. Undoubtedly, several women associated with Donald Trump now wish they had followed this procedure. 2. Evangelical Divide: Here I’m cautiously optimistic, with emphasis on “cautiously.” Donald Trump has inadvertently exposed the hypocrisy of many white evangelical Protestants who vote Republican because they believe Republicans represent “Christian values.” It’s hard to make a case for Donald Trump being a better family-values Christian than Hillary Clinton, yet many evangelicals enthusiastically endorsed him despite his deplorably un-Christian behavior. Do they now suggest that a candidate’s religious beliefs might not matter so much? Surely lots of Christians recognize the danger of ignoring social justice issues to focus exclusively on an anti-abortion agenda. Some might even worry that religious leaders are selling their own souls for personal power and political influence instead of pursuing their more traditional mission of saving souls. 3. Political Correctness: If political correctness means you can’t speak openly and honestly about controversial topics or act in ways that might offend some people, then count me out. I was a politically incorrect liberal before it became cool (thanks, Bill Maher). For instance, I refused to open car doors for my dates or pull chairs out for them as a teen in the 1950s, which might explain why I didn’t lose my virginity until graduate school. Today that behavior would go unnoticed, so I sympathize with Trump supporters who don’t appreciate political correctness. I hope this election has taught people that we not only have the free-speech right to be politically incorrect, but also the right and responsibility to call out bigotry. And violence and assault are not just politically incorrect—they’re criminal. We must not go back to the “great” America of the 1950s when privileged white, heterosexual, male Christians were legally allowed to discriminate against the “other,” whom they viewed as second-class citizens. 4. Outsiders: The two surprise vote getters during this campaign were Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, both populists outside the political mainstream who would like to end government business as usual. I do, too, which is why I voted for Sanders in the primary. Although Trump and Sanders differ on almost all issues, they have one thing in common: They are probably both atheists, though neither is “politically incorrect” enough to acknowledge it. Which leads me to the final lemon. 5. Atheists in Public Office: Recent polls have shown that about 25 percent of Americans have no religion, with the percentage higher for younger Americans and higher still for the better educated. On the other hand, polls also show that atheists are among the least trusted group in America. Although religious tests for public office are unconstitutional, the electorate seems to apply an unwritten religious test that requires candidates to express some sort of religious belief. The Secular Coalition for America has learned (privately) that at least 24 Congressional members don’t believe in God, but they are unwilling to come out of their atheist closets for fear it would literally be “politically incorrect.” Only when they do, and when more open atheists run for and win public office, will the atheist taboo finally be broken. A secular US Constitution helped make America great. When religion mingled with politics is no longer business as usual, then we together can make America even greater. With less importance placed on religion in this presidential election, I’m hoping future candidates will be judged on their political positions and their character, rather than on their professed religious beliefs. That’s the politically and morally correct thing to do.

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1 Dan Halloran = "This author speaks of those who don't believe in God being in their "atheist closets".  Perhaps it has nothing to do with atheism.  Perhaps they are agnostics who can neither prove nor disprove the existence of a God, so wisely keep their mouths shut about issues they cannot dispute.  In other words, unlike the author's presupposition, not all who don't believe in God are atheists."
2 Brent Rasmussen = "@Dan Halloran - "not believing in god" is literally the definition of atheism. Saying "not all who don't believe in God are atheists" is ridiculous. It's like saying "not all green M&Ms are green". Theism, agnosticism, and atheism are not all points along the same line. Agnosticism isn't some middle-ground where you aren't either a theist or an atheist. Agnosticism doesn't try to "prove or disprove" the existence of a god - the words "gnostic" and "agnostic" address the question of whether or not knowledge of a god is even possible, and the words "theist" and "atheist" describe whether god belief (of any kind) is present or absent within a human being.So, a human person can be BOTH an atheist (does not believe in a god), and an agnostic (does not think that knowledge of a god is even possible.) An "agnostic atheist", if you will. There can also be "gnostic theists", which would be the opposite."