President Carrie Henson’s Comments at the August 1st, 2017 KPB Assembly Meeting…
In continued protest of the unconstitutional invocation policy here at these meetings I will continue my discussion on why mixing religion with government affairs is a bad idea. When people have learned that I am an atheist the next question they ask is why?
To put matters at their simplest, the major reason for the continuance of religious belief in a world which might otherwise have long moved beyond it, is indoctrination of children before they reach the age of reason, together with all or some combination of social pressure to conform, social reinforcement of religious institutions and traditions, emotion, and it has to be said ignorance of science, of psychology, of history in general, and of the history and actual doctrines of the religions themselves. Despite my aunt’s best efforts, I was never indoctrinated.
Religious doctrine could possibly be useful in a philosophical sense, but once they are considered an ideology centered upon belief in, worship of, an obedience to a deity or deities, from whom or from which come the commands that construct the correct form of life and belief for the devotee, from this tension comes much harm, to individuals and societies both.
It is hard to make literal sense of much archaic theological and religious discourse, which is the reason religious apologists, when pressed, resort to claims of ineffability concerning the central religious subject matters and the inability of human minds to grasp them.
Often the faithful try to make a moderate version of their religion by cherry-picking the bits they can live with but the moment anything more serious in the way of commitment and belief enters the frame, threats immediately arise for women, gays, human rights, and peace itself. Whether you are in the Christian southern states, Jewish ultra-orthodox settlements in Palestinian territories, Muslim majority countries, or any community anywhere in the world the true versions of these religions are by their nature fundamentalist.
How do we free the mind of humankind from attitudes and practices which are among the biggest impediments to peace and human progress, and to adopt in their place the humane outlook that is seriously concerned to promote both, and has a real chance of doing it?
I personally have found other sources of individual comfort and inspiration that are far better than religion, they include love and friendship, family life, art, the pursuit of knowledge, and the outlook and principles of humanism. My world view is premised on observation, reason and science, and excludes any kind of faith-involving element, and specifically excludes belief in or invocation of a being or beings of a transcendent, supernatural, divine or mystical nature.
Freedom from coercive ideology is both a human right and a fundamental civil liberty, which is why freedom from religion should figure in any codification of human rights alongside the freedom to have a religion.
Today is Inauguration Day and despite the situation we find ourselves in, I am actually hopeful.
Don’t get me wrong. I was just as devastated as the majority of the country on Election Day; for weeks I was depressed. I struggled with making the decision to go hide in a hole for the next four years or face head on what is sure to be constant astonishment and outrage. I shied away from social media and the news. Tried to focus more locally and I began to notice a change in myself. I began to work harder to be the change I want to see in the world. I refocused on my recycling efforts at home. I started getting more involved in local issues and ticked up on my volunteering commitments. I put my money where my mouth is and donated to organizations that are going to really need our help such as the ACLU and the American Humanist Association.
After doing that I realized that many people around me were doing the same. It finally dawned on me that progressives like me had become mobilized; energized by the need to DO something. I, like many progressives, had become complacent under the Obama administration because we had a government that was working for us, creating change for the better but now that task is left up to us. All the issues that are important to progressives such as global climate change, women’s reproductive rights, universal health care, income equality, helping refugees, assuring Human Rights for all, logic, reason, and the use of Science to make informed decisions for the betterment of humanity will likely be ignored by this new administration.
Looking for the positive in each situation and finding ways to bounce back from adversity are Humanist Values and these months leading up to this day that we say goodbye to the Obama administration I have seen progressives RISE UP and so have many of the organizations that will need our help over the next four years. Planned Parenthood has seen an uptick of contributions and volunteers, which used to be about 8 new volunteers a week but jumped upwards of 65 a week after the election. The ACLU is fired up and ready to hold the Trump administration accountable for any civil rights violations. The interest generated by the Woman’s March on Washington tomorrow is astronomical as local marches are slated to occur at the same time all around the country empowering millions of people to stand up for the rights of others. It makes me wonder , if we would have been this energized during the Obama administration imagine how much more he may have accomplished and we might have been able to prevent the predicament we are in now.
We must RISE UP to the challenges we will undoubtedly face moving forward and despite the despicable bigotry and ignorance we will be confronted with I know I will be at peace because we are on the side of justice and as long as we do not go back to being complacent but diligently remain steadfast with our voices and our actions we will prevail.
Did you know that 40% of non-voters massively skew liberal. In fact, as a percentage, they comprise twice as many liberals as the people who do vote, yet here we are even in the primary season and a massive segment of Democrats are bickering over two virtually identical candidates, neither of which can fix the real problem of political corruption in this country. It is not a problem that can be fixed by one person at the top. It must start at the bottom, at the local level, and work its way up to the national level and the only person who can fix the problem is not one person at all but the people of the United States of America. People like you and me.
Everyone is scratching their head as to why Sanders and Trump are getting all the attention. It has nothing to do with where they stand on the issues what it has everything to do with is that they appear to be anti-establishment. What the people really want is a change in how the political process is currently working and both Sanders and Trump represent that change in different ways. The problem is that currently the average voter’s vote has virtually no impact on what happens nationally in regards to the following issues…
1) Campaign financing and lobbying: how are campaigns financed, how is lobbying regulated, and how is political spending reported (or not).
2) Election administration: who is on the voter rolls and who is not, how congressional districts are drawn, popular vote vs. Electoral College. etc.
3) Congressional rules: how does the filibuster work, what are the rules for legislative committees and conferences, are “earmarks” allowed into legislation, etc.
The solution lies in the systematic dismantling of the many ways that big money determines outcomes in politics. This kind of reasoned but comprehensive change is appealing to the political left and right. And it’s constitutional, even under the current Supreme Court; a proposal that goes well beyond the myopic range of debate in our corrupt capitol, but is viewed as common sense by a vast majority of Americans.
This is the strategic foundation of Represent.Us, the campaign in support of the American Anti-Corruption Act. The campaign was launched November, 2012. Along with a contribuiton voucher proposal, the Act would:
1) Prevent members of congress from soliciting and receiving contributions from any industry or entity they regulate;
2) Prohibit all fundraising during Congressional working hours;
3) Apply the existing $5,000 PAC contribution limit to superPACs based on the fact that they are coordinating with candidates in contradiction of the Court’s rationale (this is a potent solution to Citizens United-created spending);
4) Close the revolving door between Capitol Hill and the lobbying industry by extending the waiting period to 5 years for members and their senior staff;
5) Expand the definition of and register all lobbyists to prevent them from skirting the rules;
6) Limit the amount that lobbyists can contribute to $500, instead of the current $2,500;
7) Disclose all contribution “bundling”;
8) Strengthen the Federal Election Commission’s independence, as well as the congressional ethics enforcement process;
9) Clamp down on 501c organizations’ political spending; and
10) make all political spending fully transparent as proposed in the current DISCLOSE Act.
Why must the Act take on so many issues? This strategy recognizes that the influence of money in politics is endemic to our current system of government. We cannot fix this by patching the holes in democracy through which money seeps in. We are already flooded. We have to recognize that the influence of money has changed the way our lawmakers think about what is possible. It shapes institutions, limits expectations, and constrains the options for decision-makers. Real change must come with a comprehensive approach that reconfigures the incentives, the pressures, and the circumstances for public governance to reflect more directly the democratic interests of the people.
We desperately need a new generation of politicians that operate without the assumption that big money is the most important player at the table of governance. That means abandoning cynicism, repetition, and stagnation, creating a new set of strategic assumptions, and going big.
Step 1: The American Anti-Corruption Act sets a standard for local, state and federal laws to:
Stop the bribery
The Act prevents lobbyists from donating to politicians and/or offering them any deals that could influence policymaking.
End secret money
The Act mandates full transparency: disclosure of all political money and “bundlers” who gather contributions for politicians.
The Act imposes strict limits on PACs, and gives voters an annual $100 tax rebate to be spent supporting the candidate or party of their choice.
Step 2: Create Political Power
It’s not about right vs. left. It’s about right vs. wrong.
Real political power comes from real people. Millions of us — conservatives, progressives and everyone in between, united, organized, and taking action locally.
Step 3: Act Locally. End Corruption Nationally
Pass laws in towns, cities and states that meet the standards of the American Anti-Corruption Act, building momentum from the bottom up. Represent.Us Chapters are forming all across the country in a nationally coordinated effort to end corruption at the local level.
Step 4: Build a National Majority
Statewide Acts apply to federal candidates from that state, which means each state with an Anti-Corruption Act can elect members of Congress under the anti-corrupt system.Every state and local victory brings us a step closer to a national majority with the power to pass national reform.
Step 5: Win Nationally
Leverage a robust movement to pass anti-corruption laws in all 50 states and federally.With cross-partisan, populist support, it will be a law of, by and for the people.We won’t stop until we win.
So instead of bickering over which Dem is best Bernie or Hillary or scratching our heads over why Bernie and the Don are so popular let us get to work on effectively fixing the systemic issues of the political process. Once we have done that the right politicians will materialize because they will no longer be drawn to the position by money and power but rather to service the needs of the American People which is what a true democracy is all about.
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