March 29, 2023
Contact: Ellie Haylund
612.834.0093 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Messages highlight danger to democracy, threat of Christian nationalism
HumanistsMN (HMN), a secular community that advocates for separation of government and religion, has paid for two billboards near the State Capitol urging lawmakers to support that fundamental constitutional principle. HMN has become increasingly concerned about the rise of Christian nationalism and the impact of religious dogma on our legal system.
“We want to stress that our democracy rests on maintaining a secular government that does not favor one religion over another, or the religious over the nonreligious, as mandated by the First Amendment,” says HMN President Ellie Haylund.
The billboards, which will be up through the middle of May, both feature a photo of the Capitol, with the messages: “Protect Our Democracy. Keep Religion Out of Government” (at Robert and 10th Sts. ) and “Reject Christian Nationalism. Keep Religion Out of Government” (at Como Ave. and Marion St.).
With this effort, HMN aims to support the work of the Legislative Secular Government Caucus that was set up in October with HMN’s encouragement. “We are troubled by the efforts from some politicians to push a Christian Nationalist agenda, where right-wing Christian politicians are attempting to break down the wall of separation between church and state in order to push their beliefs on others,” the caucus said in a news release.
Christian nationalists believe that the United States was founded as a Christian nation and the government should take steps to keep it that way. By implication, anyone who is not Christian is anti-American and unpatriotic. One of the most alarming manifestations of this philosophy took place when January 6th insurrectionists used Jesus-laden rhetoric to justify overturning an election.
HMN is reacting to other worrisome trends including: the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to reject 50 years of precedent and end the constitutional right to abortion; high court rulings that erode the separation of religion and government, for example backing a football coach who led Christian prayers on the playing field; and attacks across the country on transgender rights, often on “biblical” grounds.
HumanistsMN, which promotes ethical living without theism or other supernatural beliefs, gives top priority to advocating for secular government. In recent years, this has included organizing events at the State Capitol to observe the National Day of Reason in May. These gather legislators, secular groups, and advocacy organizations to promote public policy based on reason, science, evidence, and inclusive humanistic values, not religious preference.
This year’s Day of Reason event will take place on May 3. You can find details here. Guest speaker will be Andrew Seidel, vice president of strategic communications at Americans United for Separation of Church and State. He is author of The Founding Myth: Why Christian Nationalism Is Un-American and American Crusade: How the Supreme Court is Weaponizing Religious Freedom. Seidel will also talk about and sign his Supreme Court book at 6 p.m. on May 2 at Sweeney’s Saloon in St. Paul. He will be available for media interviews.