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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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