Washington DC Secular Voters’ Forum to Be Held April 11

The Christian Right holds political forums for candidates to see which one can best put into effect the neo-fascist ideology that the leaders imagine they have received from God. The humanist community has seldom if ever decided that we are big enough and important enough to ask political candidates to come to a forum for secular voters. Perhaps we are now big enough as a community for that to change.

There is a Special Election in Washington DC on April 23, 2013, to fill an At-Large seat to the City Council. We have scheduled a forum for Thursday, April 11, in the local Cleveland Park Library. Most of the candidates have agreed to attend.

What are the secular values that would best serve the secular voters in DC? First, there is the small problem that the law does not allow an atheist to officiate at a wedding. There are two forms that may be used to have the certification to officiate at a wedding and both of them demand membership in a religious organization. This is grossly unconstitutional and many local humanists would like this to change.

The states of Oregon and Washington have death with dignity laws. After hundreds of cases, there has not been one single case where anyone has reported that a doctor assisted in a suicide done for financial reasons. Many who pass the stringent criterion under these laws never fill their fatal prescription. Many never make use of the prescription after they are filled. There is ample evidence that this law actually reduces the incidence of suicide because people are comfortable that they can chose a time to leave and need not commit suicide before a final decline. I mentioned to one candidate that the most horrible thing that I could imagine would be to be legally forced to endure a long painful death because some people imagine that this would be pleasing to God.

Washington DC is the only American city with a school voucher program mandated by Congress. Will these candidates see this as a program that should end?

Humanists are nearly universal in their understanding that global warming is a menace to our planet. Washington DC can become a tremendous example of how an East Coast city can make strides in dealing with this problem. 

Virtually every person in any humanist discussion group I have participated in thinks our war on drugs is irrational. Arguably, there is a profoundly racist aspect of this war—people of European and African descent use drugs in nearly equal proportions, yet African-Americans are prosecuted to a vastly greater extent. The criminal records become a continuing punishment that never ends. A rational response might be to ameliorate criminal records for non-violent, victimless crimes after some period of time. Will these candidates support this change to the structural racism of our society? 

Questions such as these are never raised in other forums. They will be raised at this one.

For those who are in the DC area on April 11, please come and join us at 6:00pm in the Cleveland Park Library, 3310 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC.

Don Wharton is a member of the Washington Area Secular Humanists.