Audrey Kingstrom made the following remarks at the National Day of Reason in Minnesota breakfast at the State Capitol on May 2.
We are here today to reassert the narrative that our democracy, our government, is rooted in secularism. Democracy is a social contract in which the authority to govern comes from the people – not some higher power.
Hardly a day goes by when the misfortune, violence, and tragedy that befalls people around the world does not hang over me like a dark cloud. I dutifully read the Star Tribune and listen to NPR and can’t escape the grim news.
When Lyndon Johnson was the Majority Leader of the United States Senate, he had a notorious reputation as a deal maker who would vigorously browbeat balky senators until he got the outcome he wanted. One of his favorite sayings to these senators was ,“Don’t spit in the soup, we all gotta eat.” Essentially, what he meant was that there was plenty of government largesse for everyone as long as no one objected too much to some other senator’s wasteful pork barrel project.
Hope is great when it comes to miracles. Belief is terrific when it comes to the Tooth Fairy. But neither hope nor belief should guide the making of public policy to solve our nation’s or Minnesota’s pressing problems, especially now.
My “descent” into humanism began, like many of us, before I even had a name for it. At the ripe old age of 14, I had a stark realization: the concept of a god seemed silly. Magic was the word I used when I nervously confessed to my then (and still) best friend, Jenna. I grew up going to church, but it was a progressive, open-minded Congregational community that encouraged exploration.
How do we build a thriving secular humanist future? How do we compete with organized religions, especially fundamentalist ones, which offer their members compelling narratives, a sense of meaning, a welcoming community, and comfort in times of distress?