FFRF awarded Vicky a $500 scholarship.
I’m an atheist, and this election year, I’m a family values voter. Families are one of the most important institutions in any society. The way we are raised as children influences our views on important issues such as morality, politics, sex, money and religion.
As an atheist, I vote to value the families in which we actually live: single parent households, LGBT partnerships, multigenerational homes and any other configuration that exists. My family values extend beyond families that are healthy and functioning to those that are struggling through poverty, domestic violence, mental illness and other issues.
My family values extend to those men and women who are not yet ready to start a family and want to protect themselves or terminate an unplanned pregnancy. I’m a family values voter because I support the rights of individuals to live in a safe, healthy family environment and make their own choices.
Some politicians, however, foist their religious ideology onto their legislation and decision making, telling the rest of us what we should want and how we should live our lives.
In Wisconsin, Sen. Glenn Grothman proposed Senate Bill 507, which named “nonmarital parenthood as a contributing factor to child abuse,” a slam at single mothers.
In Michigan, Rep. Lisa Brown was censored for using the word “vagina” during a debate on an abortion bill, when she stated, “I’m flattered that you’re all so interested in my vagina, but ‘no’ means ‘no.’ ”
Fellow Rep. Mike Callton said in response: “What she said was offensive. It was so offensive, I don’t even want to say it in front of women. I would not say that in mixed company.”
On the national stage, presidential candidate Mitt Romney pledged to ensure that his version of marriage is practiced throughout the land. His platform includes support for the Defense of Marriage Act and for an amendment to the Constitution defining marriage as between one man and one woman.
These are people who could be making decisions about how all Americans, secular and nonsecular, live the most intimate parts of their lives. People like state Rep. Don Pridemore of Wisconsin, who told abused women that “If they can refind [sic] those reasons and get back to why they got married in the first place it might help.”
Instead of suggesting a way for women to get out of their abusive relationships and providing support for them and their children, Pridemore encourages them to go back based on his definition of what it means to be a family.
It is one thing to espouse a view against abortion or gay marriage. It is another thing to tell someone else how they should live their lives, and it’s completely unacceptable when it comes from our elected officials.
America cannot ignore these blatant attempts to enforce their religious viewpoints on everyone. The so-called “family values” espoused by the Religious Right are not the values of the families that actually exist. God and government are a dangerous mix in our schools, public meetings, legislation, health care and tax code.
It’s time to fight back, and there’s no place better than at the ballot box. It’s time for the secular community to step up and reclaim “family values” for all families.
Perhaps we should pay more attention to what Brown, who is Jewish, said before her censorship-inducing use of the word “vagina.” She explained her position on the bill, stating, “Judaism believes that therapeutic abortions, namely abortions performed in order to preserve the life of the mother are not only permissible but mandatory. . . . I have not asked you to adopt and adhere to my religious beliefs. Why are you asking me to adopt yours?”
She shouldn’t even have to ask. Her Judaism, Grothman’s Christianity and my atheism are all equally valid. The only way all people can maintain their freedom of choice is to separate god and government and elect those who will maintain this separation.
Therefore, this election year, I am an atheist voting for the values of all families. Are you?
Vicky Weber, 22, graduated with honors from Ripon College in Ripon, Wis., with a degree in communication and a double minor in politics and government and nonprofit business management. She’s pursuing an M.A. in communication studies at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. At Ripon, she co-founded a Secular Student Alliance and plans to be active in the SSA chapter at Colorado State. Another laudable life goal she has set is to eventually enjoy a beer at all 30 Major League Baseball parks.