Scientist, noted atheist, and outspoken religion critic Richard Dawkins said that the lobby of nonbelievers has become too big for U.S. lawmakers to ignore.
In an interview with Seth Andrews, host of "The Thinking Atheist," the evolutionary biologist said that secularism is honored by the U.S. Constitution and that politicians need to start courting the nonbeliever lobby in America.
"My impression is that they're a lot more numerous than many people realize," Dawkins surmised. "I think that may be a lesson politicians need to learn, that they don't only need to suck up to the Catholic lobby and the Jewish lobby and Islam, that lobby. Maybe the nonbelievers lobby is a lot more powerful than they realize."
"(Politicians) shouldn't be promoting religion as part of their government legislation," he continued, summarizing an oft-cited humanist criticism of religion's influence on politics.
To drive the point home, Dawkins compared U.S. politics to politics in England. The Church of England, he argued, was actually established to keep religion out of politics. The U.S. ought to implement a similar understanding, he said.
"The fact that we have an established church with the queen as the head of it sort of makes religion boring, and so it kind of doesn't really catch on the way it does in America, where because it's unconstitutional to bring religion into government, religion has become free enterprise and therefore can be made much more exciting, and you have megachurches and happy-clappy dancing in the aisles and things."According to a 2008 Gallup poll, 34 percent of Americans said that religion is not an important part of their daily lives. A 2012 Pew study reported that the number of nonbelievers in American has spiked in recent years, and claimed that one-fifth of the U.S. public count themselves as religiously unaffiliated.
They do note, however, that the lack of religious affiliation does not mean that a person is not religious in some way. About 68 percent of the self-styled "religiously unaffiliated" still said that they believe in God.
Do you think that religion should influence politics? You can watch Dawkins' interview below: