THE PRAYERS of the religious right appeared to have been answered on Election Day when Donald Trump, who vowed to defend "our Christian heritage," was elected president of the United States. Emboldened by their electoral victory, Trump and fellow Republicans have since introduced measures that would endanger Americans' civil liberties on both the federal and local level, including the rights of humanists and other nontheists.
Along with so many progressive individuals and organizations, the American Humanist Association (AHA) is concerned about the direction the country is taking under a Trump presidency. "Beyond church-state separation, if you name almost any issue--education, women's rights, social justice, climate, militarism--you will see Trump appointments and policy positions that are very much contrary to what we think of as humanist values," says David Niose, legal director of the AHA's Appignani Humanist Legal Center (AHLC).
The AHLC was launched in 2006 to provide the "advocacy that humanists need to defend constitutional rights and strengthen the wall of separation between church and state." Niose, who in 2014 published Fighting Back the Right: Reclaiming America from the Attack on Reason, said one of the most significant misconceptions in the realm of political discourse is the issue of excessive corporate power.
If you're wondering why we don't have something more akin to a social democracy in the United States--why we don't have public policy that primarily focuses on human needs such as health, education, and quality of life--the answer is very simple: corporate interests control the political and governmental apparatus, and they don't want that kind of public policy. In addition to the corporate lobby, President Trump and others in the Republican Party stand accused of pandering to the powerful (and well-funded) lobby of the religious right. During his campaign, Trump's evangelical advisory board included the likes of former GOP Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, attorney Jerry Falwell Jr., and lobbyist Ralph Reed, who have been described by the non-profit Americans United for Separation of Church and State as "some of the biggest names in organized discrimination."
Also voicing concerns over the Trump administration is the non-profit Secular Coalition for America (SCA), an advocacy organization founded in 2002 that, with the help of volunteer citizen lobbyists, is "dedicated to amplifying the diverse and growing voice of the nontheistic community in the United States." SCA Communications and Social Media Associate Casey Brescia notes that "throughout the campaign, leaders of the religious right overwhelmingly and unwaveringly supported Donald Trump. Their endorsements paid off during the campaign, as Trump dutifully adopted the religious right's policy wish list into his platform."
Niose adds that the Supreme Court will likely see a major shift to the right under Trump, "not to mention what we'll see in lower federal court appointments all over the country."
In early March, the Council for National Policy (CNP) signed a letter urging Trump to place his signature on an executive order "protecting the practical exercise of religious freedom," or what they consider...