Austin Cline’s Atheism blog has a post about the lack of inclusion of atheists in the so-called “interfaith” religious service to kick off the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver this coming week. Not only were atheists not invited but were basically made unwelcome by the organizer of the event – Leah Daughtry, CEO of the Democratic National Convention Committee.
Ron Millar, Associate Director of the Secular Coalition for America, sent a letter asking the DNC if atheists would be welcome at the service and Daughtry responded to the Associated Press about “an angry letter from a secularist group”:
“Atheists speaking at an interfaith service … does that work?” Daughtry asked this week. “I don’t quite know. But they’re part of the party, you treat them with respect. I’ll give them an answer.”
As of 8/22/2008, Daughtry hasn’t responded to the letter nor has she invited an atheist for the service.
As Cline writes:
This is rather like trying to shake the perception that the Party is Jewish and so holding a special event where Jews are told to stay away, or trying to shake the perception that the Party is African-American and so holding a special event where blacks are told to stay away. It’s as if Democratic leaders are trying to draw more support from conservative Christians by saying “look, we can be bigoted and discriminatory towards atheists, too!” Why do they even want the vote of bigots, though? If you have trouble winning on a message of inclusion, then you work harder to get people to see the wisdom of that message; you do not shift your message to match the ignorance of bigots who aren’t voting for you.
To be honest I don’t expect a political party or presidential candidate not to pander to the religious – it is after all a question of numbers – but I do expect some sliver of respect and the Democrats seem to want to piss me off with their attempts to exclude people like me from their party events.
That’s a gamble they take. It’s sad.