It was perfect weather on Saturday afternoon Sept. 19, 2015 for another demonstration by the Iowa Atheists and Freethinkers (one of several Iowa atheist, humanist and secular groups that make up the Central Iowa Coalition of Reason) in support of separation of church and state. The Des Moines atheist advocacy group made sure there voices were heard by everyone in attendance!
The Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition held their 15th Annual Banquet and Presidential Forum at the Knapp Learning Center on the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines. Eight of the Republican presidential candidates were on hand to speak to the predominantly evangelical audience. On stage were Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, George Pataki, Rick Santorum and Scott Walker. Many of Iowa’s own politicians also spoke at the event including Senators Chuck Grassley & Joni Ernst, Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds, as well as Congressmen Steve King and David Young. Faith and Freedom Coalition Founder and Chairman Ralph Reed also took to the stage to speak about his organization’s goals (and to ask for money-this was a fundraiser after all!). The message repeated by virtually every speaker at the banquet was that there is a war on religious liberty, persecution of Christians, and the need to bring God back into government.
The IAF was present to make it clear to the attendees of the Banquet that religious liberty is not reserved for the privileged few but for all religions or lack thereof. Many of the signs carried stated “Separation of Church & State”. The protest area was in full view of the attendees as they walked from the parking lot and got in line to the entrance of the venue. Surprisingly, there were few detractors and indeed a few young people in particular who inquired about our message. IAF President Russ Fulton and member Thomas Harvey were interviewed by a reporter from CNN (unknown at this time if it made it to print). The Des Moines Register ran a picture with two IAF group members online and in the next day’s paper. The demonstration lasted a little over two hours ending about the time the event was to begin. It was then available to view via live streaming through a few sources which made possible reporting on what was said inside on Facebook and Twitter. Using the #AtheistVoter and #UnitedCoR at the end of each post helped to reach out to other secular-minded people across the country.
Coordinator–Central Iowa Coalition of Reason