Trump’s Attack on Atheists Backfires

In response to the derogatory attacks former US President Donald Trump made against atheists and other non-religious people at a recent event, the Secular Coalition for America, a group of non-religious organizations in the United States that also promote the separation of church and state, issued a statement condemning his remarks.

Trump made disparaging remarks against atheists during the Faith & Freedom Coalition Policy Conference in Washington on June 24. The gala was attended by a crowd of around 2,000 evangelical Christian leaders, and former Vice President Mike Pence and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis were also present in the conference’s 14th yearly gathering.

Together, we’re warriors in a righteous crusade to stop the arsonists, the atheists, globalists, and the Marxists,” Trump, the keynote speaker of the three-day Road to Majority conference, said, stirring up the crowd.

The 21 groups that form the Washington-based Secular Coalition for America, including the Ex-Muslims of North America, the American Humanist Association, and the Society for Humanistic Judaism, denied having any links with Marxism or promoting globalism in their letter.

They also reiterated their commitment to combat religious hatred against minorities in the United States and called for more respect and tolerance regarding atheists and non-religious Americans.

Just because we don’t go to church, doesn’t mean we are unpatriotic,” the statement pointed out.

For Steven Emmert, the executive director of the coalition, Trump’s recent attack against atheists was unsurprising, but what struck him was the affiliations the former president suggested.

He has used nonreligious people as a punching bag, as he has with many other groups for many years. This just seemed like an odd collection of people to go after. I mean, we are opposed to arsons as well,” Emmert said.

Emmert also said that Trump’s speech goes alongside a growing disdain that Republican politicians have towards non-religious people over the past few years. He added that it was easier to work with Republicans 25 years ago than today. He also argued that overlooking atheists and non-religious as an electorate is a mistake, adding that 17% of atheists see themselves as independent voters.

“Nonreligious people made up nearly 30% of the population. We are not exactly some fringe group,” Emmert said.

He also added that the atheist-Marxist affiliation is a common trope dating back to the 1950s, noting a speech made by Senator Joseph McCarthy in Wheeling, West Virginia, where he called for an “all-out battle between communistic atheism and Christianity.” This misconception is also caused by the governments of the Soviet Union, China, and other communist countries during the Cold War, which endorsed state atheism.

I mean, I think that’s always been (Trump’s) goal, to bring us back to the 1950s, on several levels,” Emmert said, hoping that conservative politicians will become more aware of their non-religious constituents.

Trump has long enjoyed political support from conservative evangelical Christians, and in the 2020 presidential elections, he garnered 76% of the white evangelical vote. His eighth appearance at the Faith & Freedom Coalition conference signals his eagerness to win over the evangelical vote once more.

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