John de Lancie to Secular Graduates: VOTE! The World Needs You to Shape the Future

June 16, 2020

“Being secular is not a lapel pin. It’s a mission.”

The class of 2020 is about to take its place in a turbulent world at a turning point of history, when the values of reason, science, and compassion are needed more than ever. For those graduating students who are secular—atheists, agnostics, humanists, and Nones—these trying times present the opportunity to create the future they want to see.

This is the vital message that celebrated actor John de Lancie wants to convey to the secular graduates of 2020. In a stirring commencement address video originally presented for the Secular Student Alliance‘s Virtual Graduation ceremony, de Lancie recalls how previous generations found the courage to confront world-changing challenges, from winning world wars against fascism to eradicating diseases and sending humans to the Moon. But a culture of staggering inequality, unsustainable consumption, and rampant magical thinking has led us to the moment of crisis we now face.

De Lancie urges young people to seize this once-in-a-generation opportunity to shape a whole new world from the chaos, one based on the values they hold most dear: facts, truth, and caring. To do that, secularists must harness their collective power and creativity to organize, solve problems, and perhaps most importantly, vote.

De Lancie, best known for his role as the omnipotent Q on Star Trek: The Next Generation, as well as dozens of other films, television shows, stage productions, and video games, challenges students to defy “the forces of bigotry, ignorance, and fear” that are relying on secular youth to stay on the sidelines.

“Surprise them,” he tells them. “Be smart. Be strategic. Be secular. The world needs you.”

Check out his inspiring video and share it widely so secular Americans of all ages can answer John de Lancie’s call for leaders and visionaries to be optimistic, engaged, and active.

CFI is a proud member of the Secular America Votes coalition. Our partner organization, the Secular Student Alliance, is graciously hosting a website where secular Americans can find a wide array of tools to help strengthen participation in our democracy. Whether you want to register online to vote, check your registration status, host a virtual registration drive, or contribute some other way, SAV can help. Check it out here:

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The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization headquartered in Amherst, New York, with executive offices in Washington, D.C. It is also home to the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science, the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, and the Council for Secular Humanism. The Center for Inquiry strives to foster a secular society based on reason, science, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. Visit CFI on the web at