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Guest MINDSETTER™ Tangie Miner: Humanists Protect spirit of our Secular Government

Tuesday, July 03, 2012


As a member of Humanists of Rhode Island, I would like to respond to Dan McGowan’s assertion that our group has “nothing better to do” than oppose the promotion of religion on public land.

Our fledgling group is only about a year old and has yet to acquire a dedicated meeting space. We do our planning at various venues and electronically. Most of our members work, attend school, or both. Many also have families to care for. Believe me, there is plenty to do.

Last winter, Humanists of Rhode Island raised funds over two weekends, and used the money to provide holiday gift baskets for the residents of the Women’s Center of Rhode Island. Members of our group regularly participate with Habitat for Humanity in Providence, and assisted with planting much of the shrubbery for the up-and-coming recreation area at Veteran's Square in West Warwick. In February we officially adopted a two mile stretch of highway in Cranston, which we have cleaned three times since then. We also helped to beautify Roger Williams Park for Earth Day. Teaming up with South Providence Library, we co-sponsored a blood drive on July 2nd. Our group had an informational table at PRIDE, and have attended rallies in support of equal rights for women and minorities. Our members have been attendees and speakers at national conferences and rallies, as well.

As for the issue of the Christian symbol standing in the middle of Pleasant Valley Parkway, Mr. Montequila claims to have built this cross as a memorial for veterans, though there is nothing on or near the structure that references our military. It should come down for three reasons. First, adopting a public spot does not give one license to use that spot as an opinion platform. Second, it gives the impression that our state favors one religion over others, which is divisive. Lastly, disregarding our non-Christian service members is simply shameful. I am a veteran, and I am not a Christian. I personally knew Muslims and Pagans who served alongside me, as well as other agnostics and atheists.

Since the 1950s, there has been a push to equate patriotism with religiosity in America. Given that our nation was found by people fleeing religious persecution in Europe, and Rhode Island was founded on the principle of separation of church and state, I do not understand why any Rhode Islander would want religious icons on public property. Our government is supposed to be of the people, by the people, and for the people. That means ALL the people, even those who do not believe as you do. Being part of a majority does not entitle anyone to special privileges from the state. The state should be neutral with regards to religion, and the members of Humanists of Rhode Island seek to maintain that neutrality. This is why, in addition to the community projects we have undertaken, we take time out of our busy lives to protest what we see as threats to the spirit of our secular government.

Tangie Miner is a member of the Humanists of Rhode Island.

*Photo Credit: Rhode Island's Future - http://www.rifuture.org


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This country was founded on the basis of freedom OF religion, not FROM religion. A plain read of the Constitution says that congress shall enact no law establishing a state religion. If they do that, you have a legitimate gripe - but they have not. Unfortunately the Supreme Court has taken an overly inclusive interpretation of those words. I believe that your organized belief system is as much a religion ans any other. The difference is that you seem to be able to force your religion on the rest of us as the official state religion. Would that the courts recognized that and banned NOT having religious symbols on public property.

Comment #1 by Andrew Dzykewicz on 2012 07 03

Thanks Andrew. These clowns need to get a life and leave other people alone. Control freaks....

Comment #2 by Mike Govern on 2012 07 03

they have no problem taking dollar bills that state "in god we trust"

Comment #3 by jon paycheck on 2012 07 03

What good is being in the majority if we can't get our way once in a while? Isn't Secular Humanism considered a religion, for tax purposes?

Comment #4 by Michael Trenn on 2012 07 03

Mr. Dzykewicz, your neighbor cannot have freedom to practice HIS religion unless he is free from YOUR religion. Also, you say that Humanism is a religion, and then go on to say that the courts should ban the lack of religious icons in public. So would you be pleased to see Humanist symbols erected all over Rhode Island? Right now there are none that I'm aware of. Would you recognize one if you saw it? You seem to be under the impression that the lack of a symbol makes something Humanist, which is simply untrue. The lack of a symbol makes something secular, neutral, or inclusive.

Mr. Paycheck, I would personally love to spend money without the divisive wording printed on it. Unfortunately, that option ceased to exist in 1957. You do realize that changing our nation's motto and plastering God's name all over our currency was merely a political stunt, right? When you think about it, having your God's name on your cash is tacky and cheapens your God.

Mr. Trenn, our group is tax-exempt as an educational group rather than a religious group. The types of groups that can be granted different forms of tax status can easily be found via Google.

The majority gets its way every single day, what with being granted the right to worship without persecution under the Constitution. You get the same rights as everyone else. You do not get special rights for being a majority.

Comment #5 by Tangie Miner on 2012 07 04

The first sentence in your reply is pure nonsense. My neighbors can and do practice any religion they choose, without infringing on my ability to practice mine. The concept that the mere occasional viewing of someone elses religious symbol could damage my personal belief is patently absurd. The U. S. Constitution was intended to preclude the establishment of an official state religion like the Church of England. The expansionist view of the simple words used to express that concept have become a bludgeon for people like yourself attempting to force your beliefs on others, not the other way around. My sardonic suggestion is built on the truth that you have no more right to enforce your belief system on me than I have to do so to you. I just want you to receive equal treatment under the law, which to me means forcing you to stay out of other people’s business.

Comment #6 by Andrew Dzykewicz on 2012 07 06

Do you feel that ANYONE should be allowed to place ANY religious symbol of their choosing on PUBLIC property? If the answer is yes, then what would the purpose of this be? If the answer is no, why not?

Comment #7 by Tangie Miner on 2012 07 06

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