The freethinking community of Tucson is not a homogeneous organization. It contains at least as many opinions as there are members. Some leaders within the community refer to their job as “herding cats” but others say it’s more like “herding butterflies.” Cats are limited to two dimensions, after all. However, there does appear to be a bias toward one end of the political spectrum.
Jim Wilson ponders the question, “Why do Freethinkers tend to be so liberal?”
Nonbelievers, Skeptics, Atheists and Secular Humanists tend to hang out at the left side of American politics and many unabashedly identify as liberals, progressives, or support the Left. Other political philosophies can be found, however. There are Free-Marketers, Ayn Rand fans, and Libertarians along with the occasional self-identified conservative. Some gravitate toward philosophies that fall outside the conventional political spectrum which indicates that it is not necessary to be left-leaning to be an Atheist or Skeptic. Apparently, Atheists, Agnostics, and Skeptics from all over the political spectrum are less visible than their left leaning compatriots. Still, many Atheists are liberals and progressives; why is that?
Perhaps the conservative movement has declared Freethinkers to be an enemy. The Right Wing conservative media outlets and think tanks have painted Atheists, Secularists, Secular Humanists, Evolutionists, and Intellectuals as the bad guys. They believe Freethinkers are communists and un-American. Some go as far as blaming Freethinkers for the attacks on September 11th. Many conservatives believe Freethinkers are responsible for many of America’s problems and they long for the times when Freethinkers were less visible and less vocal. They align themselves with ideologues such as Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, and Rick Santorum. The Right Wing has become the home for those who want: religious monuments in government buildings, teacher led prayers in public schools, and science classes that teach the Biblical creation myth instead of science. They are antagonistic to church and state separation, and favor using government to promote religious values. Above all, the Right Wing is most likely to affiliate itself with the type of moral guardians who vocally oppose birth control, reproductive choice, and marriage equality.
Maybe it’s within the personality of the Freethinker. We live in a very religious society and people who reject religious views tend to be the sort who question other mainstream values such as those associated with marriage, family life, sexuality, artistic expression, etc. Reactionary elements within the Right Wing demonize and alienate this personality type while the Left embraces it. Our politics are dominated by two catch-all political parties and Freethinkers such as Atheist, Agnostics, Skeptics, and Scientists are not welcomed by the Right Wing and by necessity identify with the Left.
While the conservative and liberal political philosophies are not ideal, Freethinkers and non-believers tend to be more sympathetic to the liberal side of the so-called “culture war.” Political issues outside the social arena such as the economy or military intervention are areas where Freethinkers and non-believers often disagree and result in interesting discussions at many of our gatherings.
FreeThought Arizona has members and guest speakers from all over the political spectrum. Many guest speakers identify themselves as liberal or progressive but some prominent ones do not. All that is necessary is that they support science, reason, and the separation of church and state.