• It’s About Ideas, Not Labels

    Last night, I attended my county Democratic Party nomination convention. The keynote speaker was an elected official from a neighboring county and he gave a pretty good speech. One thing in particular that I liked was that he talked about how it isn’t just about helping people win with “D’s” next to their name. It is about helping people win who support our values. It isn’t about party affiliation; it is about real issues that affect real people.

    Indecently enough, Roy Speckhardt just authored a great article on Huffington Post. In the article, Speckhardt talked about how the next Pope will be a victory for atheism/humanism. It doesn’t really matter who it is because if the next Pope is more right wing, he will drive more people away from Catholicism and toward atheism.

    But here is the really great part. If the next Pope is more progressive, then we still win because it isn’t really about the label. It isn’t even necessarily about believing in deities on insufficient evidence. It is about real issues that affect real people. So if the next Pope is more progressive, then that will mean that Catholicism might keep a few of the people they would have lost with a more right wing Pope, but all of Catholicism will move closer towards becoming more humanistic.

    In both politics and religion, ideas trump labels. Sure, labels are important and I would much rather have people identify as progressives and atheists, but for whatever reason, some people don’t feel comfortable with those labels. Ultimately the ideas are more important and so I am willing to settle for that in the time being.

    What is not acceptable however, is the use of those labels with the absence of the ideas behind them. This doesn’t usually happen with atheists. I can’t recall any instance of someone claiming to be an atheist and then stating that they believe in some sort of deity. But in politics, we see people label themselves as Democrats or progressives who just do not support the core ideas behind those labels.

    For example, Obama is not a progressive. He is barely a Democrat on many core issues. In my state of Pennsylvania, we have a US Senator who is a Democrat but doesn’t support a woman’s right to choose what happens to her body and not long ago, the county Democratic Party endorsed a creationist for County Council. He lost btw, but he remains a vocal voice within the Party at the county level.

    I don’t think someone has to support ever plank in the Party platform, but there are some pretty core issues that I think are essential. Someone may disagree with me on what those core issues are, but for me if a candidate doesn’t support an issue that I think is central to being a Democrat, I probably won’t waste my time supporting that person as a candidate. I might even actively work against that candidate. So if the party wants to win elections, it might make sense to have candidates that represent those core issues. That’s just my opinion; I could be wrong.

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    Category: AtheismPoliticsPope


    Article by: Staks Rosch

    Staks Rosch is a writer for the Skeptic Ink Network & Huffington Post, and is also a freelance writer for Publishers Weekly. Currently he serves as the head of the Philadelphia Coalition of Reason and is a stay-at-home dad.