So why do I care about helping people have secular weddings? Why do I concern myself over the importance of not only having a secular ceremony, but also a secular officiant?
A religious officiant agreeing to not mention “God” in your marriage ceremony is still a religious wedding. Sure, we can go to a Judge and have a civil ceremony, but usually Judges will not perform marriages outside of the courthouse and regular business hours.
What it comes down to is our rights as non-believers.
What many people do not know is that the reason the American Humanist Society is able to ordain celebrants to perform secular weddings, is that they are actually considered a non-theistic religious organization (started by Quakers). Much in the way Buddhism is considered a religion, even when it is technically a non-theist philosophy.
Atheists, agnostics, secular non-believers of all stripes shouldn’t be expected to put on airs or set aside their values in a country that supposedly has separation of church and state.
There are activist groups working on changing laws around the country, but it will be a long slog, in part because not that many people really even care one way or another. Those of us who do care end up getting labeled as “angry atheists” and told that there are bigger issues to spend our energy and effort on.
I don’t think it is unreasonable to want the same opportunities as a religious person. My husband and I were lucky to be married by an amazing Secular Humanist Celebrant who shares our values an beliefs. But while these laws remain and a religious test is applied (unconstitutionally) to who can officiate weddings, many couples will be left with no options besides the courthouse.
Separation of church and state is one of the biggest fights of our generation. It is paraded as this grand, foundational virtue of American government and culture, all while our government at nearly every level was overwhelmingly Christian and our laws have increasingly tilted in favor of Christians.
Unaffiliated people, which includes atheists, agnostics, and other non-religious people make up 23% of Americans, and yet there is only 1 unaffiliated (note, not openly atheist) member of congress. Polls show that atheists are less trusted than nearly every other demographic aside from socialists. Our Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, said in his confirmation hearing, that he is unsure whether secular people are able to know “truth.”
If secular and unaffiliated people continue to let these issues slide, we will continue to be overlooked and walked all over.
We need to show our religious friends, family, and fellow Americans that being religiously unaffiliated does not mean we are apathetic, amoral, or in anyway less deserving of the same privileges afforded to them.
We start by actually giving a damn.