I live in Washington DC, a city that’s so liberal, 92% of residents voted for President Obama in the last election. It’s a city where, amidst a myriad of political opinions, atheist advertisements hardly bat an eye (the major press comes from the rest of America). That’s why it’s sometimes hard for me to imagine what it’s like living in a small town where coming out as an atheist, or simply standing up for church-state separation, can lead to bullying, losing of a job, or even being kicked out of your own home. Seems silly to think that simply not believing in God can lead to real-life consequences, but it’s worth reminding ourselves of how far we, as members of the freethought movement, still need to go in order to achieve equality for nonbelievers.
That’s why I applaud Gracie Bedi, one of the plaintiffs in the AHA’s lawsuit against a high school in Mississippi that held an unconstitutional Christian assembly and the lead story in this week’s HNN, for coming out publicly on behalf of humanists, atheists and religious minorities at her school. We need more religious allies like Gracie, and humanists like her friend Alexis, who are willing to be brave and stand up for the First Amendment. It’s never easy, but it’s worth it.