I was driving near the Washington Beltway recently behind an evangelistic atheist. It was not the Obama-Biden bumper sticker that gave this driver away, but the one just below it: "You don't need God — to hope, to care, to love, to live."
That seemed an oddly defensive bit of secular scripture, and since the bumper sticker also promoted a website (livingwithoutreligion.org), I decided to see what the Godless were preaching.
"We who are nonreligious lead meaningful lives without reliance on the supernatural," said the website.
"Moreover, we who are nonreligious don't believe our lives lack meaning because there is no God to supervise and direct them for all eternity," said the site. "Frankly, we like the fact that no plan is imposed on us by some immensely powerful being; we create our own meaning."
This website, it turned out, was a project of the Center for Inquiry, which proclaims on its main website that it has a "mission”. "To oppose and supplant the mythological narratives of the past, and the dogmas of the present, the world needs an institution devoted to promoting science, reason, freedom of inquiry and humanist values," it says. "The Center for Inquiry is that institution."
The center's first goal: "an end to the influence that religion and pseudoscience have on public policy."
Of course, the center has its own public policy positions. Lower marginal tax rates? A balanced budget? Not quite.
In a position paper titled, "The School Voucher Crisis," the group explains why school choice is bad for America. "Most religion-based private schools are unfriendly toward women's rights, reproductive choice and LGBT rights and interests," it says. "Vouchers would deal these interests a severe blow."
Presumably, good public schools teach children the correct positions on these things. And what would those be?
For starters, "There is no evidence that consensual sex between adolescents is harmful," says the center's position paper titled, "The Importance of Appropriate Sexuality Education."
"The public schools, supported by government policy and funds, should teach comprehensive sexuality education," says the paper. "Government policy that promotes the expectation of abstinence until marriage is based on religious ideology, not science, and is neither in the best interests of youths nor reflective of the wishes of the citizenry."
Consistent with this view, the center believes the government should compel taxpayers to fund other people's "family planning" — including other people still in their teens and in foreign nations.