How the Nones Can Become a Political Powerhouse, in the Latest “Free Inquiry”


For Immediate Release: May 14, 2019
Contact: Paul Fidalgo, Communications Director
press@centerforinquiry.org - (207) 358-9785

The “Nones”—those who claim no religious affiliation—are now in a three-way tie with Catholics and evangelicals for the largest “belief” group in America, but you’d never know it by looking at election returns and exit polls.

Not all Nones are nonbelievers, but they do share many common values and a refusal to submit to anyone’s dogma. But unless they can muster the political organization and commitment to match their numbers, as Free Inquiry Tom Flynn puts it, “Nones face a future of being politically outgunned by their more religiously zealous counterparts.” What a shame that would be.

The latest issue of Free Inquiry magazine brings together leading secularist thinkers and activists to weigh in on the question of the Nones and the vote.

Rachel Laser of Americans United for Separation of Church and State sees an ironic parallel between the None’s lack of political organization and the evangelical right in the 1970s, saying, “Those who aspire to office will feel compelled to speak to the growing bloc of secularists whose votes may have the power to swing an election.”

CFI’s own Director of Government Affairs, Jason Lemieux, suggests the movement abandon its reliance on controversy and the “politics of resentment and contrarianism,” and instead focus on broad appeals to values to make “Nones on the fence” feel welcome. Similarly, Debbie Allen of the Secular Coalition for America argues for an emphasis on values that are shared by nontheists and theists alike, rather than trying unite the myriad overlapping freethought identities.

Social critic Mark Kolsen suggests that terms such as “spiritual” and “religious” have been muddied to the point that social scientists and pollsters are actually undercounting how many Nones are indeed outright atheists. And James Haught calls upon secular organizations to pool resources and talent to create a task force to enact get-out-the-vote tactics for 2020 and beyond.


Also in this issue: Experimental psychologist Doug Mann argues against the existence of objective morality; Lowrey Brown of the Final Exit Network seeks to disentangle suicide from its association with mental illness and irrationality; Ophelia Benson looks at the similarities between Donald Trump and “the original Peak Narcissist himself, Mister God,” and much more.

The June/July issue of Free Inquiry hits newsstands soon, and you can subscribe to Free Inquiry in print or online.

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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 centerforinquiry.org.