MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Their numbers are growing in Tennessee and soon, so will their political clout. The secular coalition of America is organizing atheists to sway state lawmakers on controversial legislation.
Atheists say Tennessee lawmakers are trying to keep gays out of religious student groups and bring God in the classroom
When lawmakers encroach on the Second Amendment, gun owners have the NRA. Gays and lesbians have GLAAD. Pro-choicers have Planned Parenthood.
Now atheists are getting special interest group. Preston Rogers with the Memphis Free Thought Alliance believes it's about time.
“I think we ranked right above rapists in a poll. I can't repeat the poll but usually I think it's a fairly high maligned group,” Rogers said.
He insists state lawmakers aren't just toeing the line of separation of church and state, they're crossing it. He points to the so-called Monkey Bill, signed into law this spring as proof.
“The problem is that just enables teachers who are creationists to promote their view in class without being challenged,” Rogers said.
“If he doesn't want any kind of religious influence on politics, then he's saying there should be no religions except my religion, atheism,” said Paul Houghland from the Family Action Council of Tennessee.
The Family Action Council is a conservative lobbying group that advocates pro-life causes and traditional marriage. Houghland says there are plenty organizations that lobby for liberals and atheists. There's no need for another one that aims to silence religion.
“Eighty-seven percent believes there is a God. Well you can't take that influence out of any decision that is being made. It's there,” Houghland said.
Rogers insists if Tennessee wants to keep in step with the Constitution that influence must be taken out. The Secular Coalition of America will be behind the scenes in Nashville soon to make sure of it.
“Non-believers are really glad to have finally a voice,” Rogers said.
The Secular Coalition of America plans to set up chapters in 48 states, including Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico.