FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(Des Moines, Iowa, Tuesday, January 26, 2016) “Keep Your Theocracy Out of Our Democracy”
The Central Iowa Coalition of Reason and Eastern Iowa Coalition of Reason will be leading a demonstration at the final Republican Debate prior to the caucuses, demanding a separation of religion from government on Thursday, January 28th from 5—8 p.m. The event will gather on the west side of the Iowa Events Center, on 5th Avenue between Crocker Street and Center Street in Des Moines, IA. Two types of #AtheistVoter signs are being used to keep the message clear and concise, as this is a demonstration to promote free speech and to raise the visibility of the voice of non-theistic voters and the issues that they care about. #AtheistVoter pins have been made available for attendees. In the event of an earlier undercard debate, there will also be attendees at this demonstration, as well.
“The point of our demonstration is that we represent the fastest growing minority yet we are ignored by the candidates” explained Rory Moe, coordinator for the Central Iowa Coalition of Reason. “According to the Pew Research Center’s May 12, 2015 study, adults that identify with no religion has grown to 23% over the past seven years. This number rises to more than a third of those 33 years old and younger. There are more of us than either Roman Catholics or mainline Protestants and are second only to evangelical Protestants. Of the religiously unaffiliated, 31% are atheist or agnostic-well over 17 million voters. We will be silent no longer and deserve to be appropriately recognized in the democratic process, rather than being relegated to the fringe of campaign targeting.”
Representing the growing number of like-minded demographics isn’t the only goal of the demonstration. “We want to ensure that the Jeffersonian “wall of separation” between religion and government remains firmly in place,” explained Rocky Gissler, coordinator for the Eastern Iowa Coalition of Reason. “An elected government official takes an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution that applies to all citizens, and their ‘sincerely-held beliefs’ should not supersede the supreme law of this country. When religious bias is allowed to influence our laws, it can result not only in discriminatory actions toward whole groups of people, such as the LGBTQ community, but grievous harm to individuals. For example, child health and safety laws should apply equally to everyone regardless of the religious affiliation of that child’s parents, school, or child care facility. There should be no religious exemption when it comes to the health and welfare of a child, although a recent report from the National District Attorneys Association highlights that 43 states provide religious exemptions for withholding medical care. No child should be subjected to potential harm because their parents’ religious beliefs.”
Attending the demonstration will be Justin Scott, an atheist activist and lifelong Iowan. Scott has been promoting the “Atheist Voter” initiative by pressing presidential candidates to state where they stand on issues like the Separation of Church and State, what they believe religious freedom is and where they stand on discriminatory legislation that is rooted in religious beliefs. His exchange with Marco Rubio on being “Pastor-In-Chief” has gone mega viral accumulating 8 million views.
“With a growing number of presidential candidates basing much of their candidacy on their religious beliefs, it’s especially important that atheists and non-theists get in front of these candidates and demand to know whether they intend on representing all Americans, not just the religious ones,” explained Scott, who leading up to the final Republican debate has lobbed questions at eight candidates ranging from Donald Trump to Bernie Sanders. “We’ve been ignored for long enough and it’s time that Des Moines and Washington DC know that aren’t going to sit back and watch our country turn into a theocracy.”
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The Central Iowa Coalition of Reason (www.CentralIowaCoR.org) is a proactive partnership of six Atheist, Free-Thought advocate, and Humanist groups working together in the central Iowa region. Our clear vision is to foster a sense of community for the Secular among us, and to raise the visibility of our efforts for those who have not yet found a Secular community through which they can thrive and feel welcome.
The Eastern Iowa Coalition of Reason (www.EastIowaCoR.org) is made up of eight atheist, freethought, and humanist groups working together in the Eastern Iowa area. Our twin goals are to foster a sense of community among the like minded and raise public awareness that people who don’t believe in a god or gods can be decent citizens who contribute to the larger society.
#AtheistVoter (www.AtheistVoter.org) ensures that elected officials know that atheists, agnostics, and other nonreligious constituents vote–and vote in huge numbers–so they can no longer simply ignore us or take our votes for granted.
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For more information regarding the demonstration, contact:
Central Iowa Coalition of Reason
Eastern Iowa Coalition of Reason
Iowa Atheists and Freethinkers