2012 is coming to a close. We’re going to start our next cycle about the Sun in a couple of days with multiple occasions for celebration. Many of my friends, heathen and otherwise, will be coming to the house on Friday to celebrate the winter solstice. Most everyone will be celebrating Christmas Day with family, The Christmas Story, football, and presents from loved ones and family. Then there will be yet another celebration when December 2012 becomes January 2013. Try as we might we just can’t protect our “time of multiple celebrations” from controversy and tragedy. Scuffling over whether or not there is a “War on Christmas” is mildly entertaining but the tragedy of a mass murder demands that we focus on darker thoughts. If you’d like to delve into the subject of mass murders in American you can find and excellent article on the Mother Jones website.
2012 had some highlight for us. We found out that the “nones,” those people with no religious affiliation, is the fastest growing “religious” group in America. This year the Supreme Court decided to review the “Under God” part of the Pledge of Allegiance. The arguments are now about equal rights and protection as opposed to violations of the First Amendment. In 2012, non-believers are finally recognized as a powerful voting block. This was the year of the Reason Rally in Washington, D.C. A couple of graduates from the Clergy Project came out in 2012 and have taken their place in helping the FreeThought community. Jerry DeWitt is the Executive Director of Recovering from Religion. Teresa McBain was a Methodist pastor for 10 years. She came out at the American Atheist convention and now works for that organization as a communications director. Jessica Ahlquist, a high school student, won a case that removed a banner from her school gymnasium. This year Arizona voted to have an avowed secularist sent to the House of Representatives, Kyrsten Sinema. Also this year the FFRF (Freedom from Religion Foundation) took action over the IRS’s failure to enforce electioneering restrictions. Ten Commandment monuments have been removed from public property in Pennsylvania. Prayer in public schools was fought and won in South Carolina. The fact that Pennsylvania declared 2012 the”Year of the Bible” was addressed. A long standing obvious violation of the separation of church and state was addressed in Montana where the permit for a life sized concrete statue of Jesus on public land was not renewed by the Forest Service. The FFRF is claiming over 140 legal victories in 2012 without going to court!
A scan of the Wikipedia page on science accomplishments during 2012 yields too many to list here. Off the top of my head I remember the discovery of the Higgs Boson and the amazing landing of the Martian rover Curiosity. There were of course many many more. While space science is always interesting we shouldn’t forget terrestrial advances being made by altruistic and dedicated individuals. The Guinea Worm Disease is about to become the second human disease to be completely eradicated. The first was small pox. In 2012 Stem cells were used to ease degnerative blindness in volunteers.
2012 was a year of the young activism. Jessica Ahlquist, Krystal Myers, Jeff Shott, Matthew Nielson, Maia Disbrow and Mayan and Balen Essak were all young activists that were in the news on the front lines of church and state separation. While the “nones” are on the rise generally and represent almost 20% or 1 in 5, the adults under 30 are polling at 33% or 1/3rd of the population. We’re going into a new year and stats like that give the secularists a reason for hope for the future.