Note: We do not endorse alternative voter guides. In fact, in some cases we link to voter guides produced organizations with goals contrary to our own. Nonetheless, we believe you may find considering an alternative voter guide (like the one that follows) helpful in validating our work.
Here is the third installment alternative voter guides for the 2013 election in Virginia. This one is from the Secular Coalition for America. Their mission sounds tolerable.
The mission of the Secular Coalition for America is to increase the visibility of and respect for nontheistic viewpoints in the United States, and to protect and strengthen the secular character of our government as the best guarantee of freedom for all. (from here)
Unfortunately, the Secular Coalition is not especially tolerant.
The Friendly Atheist blog at patheos highlights the Secular Coalition‘s scorecard in Republican Ken Cuccinelli Gets Straight F’s on Secular Coalition for America’s Virginia Governor’s Race Scorecard. Here is what the Friendly Atheist observed.
The candidates include Terry McAuliffe (Democrat), Ken Cuccinelli (Republican), and Robert Sarvis (Libertarian).
(Go ahead: Try predicting this one. I promise you’ll be 100% accurate.)
The full scorecard goes more in depth, but the final rankings are right here:
This scorecard comes from a narrow-minded point-of-view. Here is how the Secular Coalition announced their scorecard.
What is good about this atheist scorecard? Although the Secular Coalition‘s scorecard focuses only on the gubernatorial race and a relatively narrow range of issues, the issues are important, and the scorecard does document some its sources for candidate responses, albeit some of the connecting links are broken.
What is wrong with this scorecard? As a practical matter, the Secular Coalition opposes any belief in God. Let’s consider the first couple of questions. Look again at the first question.
What role would religion play in the candidate’s decision making in his or her role as Governor of Virginia? Does the candidate support a mutual separation between religion and government?
Note the term “mutual” in the second part of the question. The first amendment does not require a mutual separation between religion and government. What it requires is that the government not establish a religion. Read it for yourself.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. (from here)
The first amendment just prohibits the government from establishing a religion or interfering with the free exercise of religion. It does not require government to secularize our society, and that is effectively what the Secular Coalition advocates. Check out their Key Issues page. That links to other pages that discuss a variety of issues.
The Secular Coalition takes several different approaches to attacking religious belief.
- Accusations of religious extremism. Thus, for example if a pharmacist refuses to dispense “emergency contraceptives” (because somebody refused to exercise self-control), the Secular Coalition thinks the appropriate solution is for the pharmacist to compromise his morals too (See the Secular Coalition‘s Emergency Contraception and Conscience Clause Issue Statement.).
- Accusations of political favoritism. Because our nation is not appropriately practicing Christianity, we have too many politicians peddling political favors. Hence, politicians may have given religious organizations some questionable government subsidies, tax loopholes, and regulatory exemptions. Commercial companies and other nonprofit organization, of course, never get any questionable government subsidies, tax loopholes, and regulatory exemptions. Apparently, corruption is a religious problem.
- Advocacy of secularism. Under the guise of the separation church and state, the Secular Coalition would end any government support of any sort for religious-based institution. That, of course, includes taking God out of the Pledge of allegiance
What about the second question?
Does the candidate support a science based curriculum in public schools and reject the use of public funding of religious schools or religiously-based curriculums?
Instead of complaining about the real problem, an absence of school choice, the Secular Coalition blames religious belief for problems caused by an education monopoly. The most outrageously absurd example of this is with respect to school vouchers. Their article on the subject ends with this statement.
The Secular Coalition for America takes no position on the use of vouchers for secular private education. However, we oppose any form of public funding that supports religious institutions or religious training, including vouchers and tax exemptions. (from here)
In other words, because atheists hate the idea of God, they insist upon using public funds to indoctrinate other people’s children secularized schools.
What is the bottom-line? So long as it does not involve God, the Secular Coalition thinks religious liberty is a great idea.
- Richard Dawkins Foundation, Secular Coalition Leadership Announce Partnership (richarddawkins.net)
- Atheists Give Cuccinelli an “F” and McAuliffe an “A” in VA Gubernatorial Candidate Scorecard (secularnewsdaily.com)