The Atheist Community of Austin is a non-profit, educational organization involved in community outreach and activism. Our various media outreach programs and activities afford us the opportunity to speak out on a number of issues. Atheism is misunderstood and misrepresented and we feel it is important that our community has official, public positions on a number of issues.
Atheism is a singular position about the existence of a god or gods and the beliefs of individual atheists on other issues are diverse. These statements represent the official positions of this organization and do not represent the position of all atheists or ACA members. Acceptance of these positions is not required for membership in the ACA.
The ACA understands:
- Article VI of the United States Constitution prohibits any religious test for public office
- The First Amendment necessarily requires that our government remain neutral with regard to religion
- The Fourteenth Amendment extends amendments to the US Constitution to the state governments
We believe that this neutral position ensures that no religion receives preferential treatment over another religion, or the lack of religion.
We support the right of each individual to believe or disbelieve as they choose. We support the right of individuals to practice their religious beliefs to the extent that such practice does not inhibit or infringe upon the rights and freedoms of others.
The ACA opposes legislation that seeks to discriminate against individuals on the basis of sex, race, religious belief, sexual orientation or other status. We believe that laws and regulations which limit or deny freedoms and rights must have a valid, secular foundation.
The ACA considers the following positions to be logical extensions of our primary position statements.
The ACA believes that religious displays on public property violate the establishment clause of the First Amendment and therefore should be banned. These displays represent favoritism toward a particular religion or group of religions and serve as an implicit endorsement. Additionally, they represent a divisive mechanism which marginalizes that segment of the population, religious or not, which does not subscribe to the represented beliefs.
The ACA believes that religious messages included in anthems, mottos and pledges are also violations of the First Amendment.
Creationism and Intelligent Design
Creationism is the religious assertion that life on Earth was created by a supernatural entity. While we support the right of any individual to hold this belief, it is unsupported by science, and the Supreme Court of the United States has rightly determined that creationism violates the "Lemon Test." As such, creationism constitutes promotion of religion and cannot be taught in public schools.
Intelligent Design is the assertion that the current theory of evolution and natural selection is insufficient to properly explain the complexity of life on Earth. While that objection may be reasonable, Intelligent Design proponents advance the additional claim that the correct explanation must include intervention by an intelligent entity. While they staunchly refuse to identify this entity, the general view among most advocates is that this entity is "God".
The Intelligent Design movement has been unable to support their assertions with scientific evidence and has often been called "Creationism in a lab coat" or "Creationism in disguise".
The ACA supports the various legal rulings which prohibit teaching these unproven assertions and religious opinions in public school science classes.
The ACA believes that public education is absolutely essential to the future welfare of our nation, and the world. We support efforts to improve the quality of the public education by:
- Encouraging the development of critical thinking skills
- Instilling appreciation for the arts and humanities
- Maintaining the integrity of science
- Providing a safe, healthy and productive learning environment
As a government institution which serves citizens of many different social, economic and religious backgrounds, public education must remain neutral with regard to religion.
We believe that we must strive to provide all students with the equal opportunity to receive a robust and diverse education.
The ACA holds that individual human rights necessarily include the premise of individual sovereignty with regard to decisions that affect one's person. In support of this premise, the ACA supports:
- The right of all consenting adults, of all sexual preferences, to responsibly manage their own sexual activities without unnecessary interference or restriction
- Robust and properly informative education regarding human sexuality, birth control, family planning, sexually transmitted disease and pregnancy termination
The ACA strongly opposes "abstinence-only" sex education. Abstinence-only sex education is a naive concept which ignores the reality of human sexuality and fails to properly educate individuals;
often resulting in increased rates of unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease.
The ACA strongly opposes the "Global Gag Rule", and any similar legislation or restrictions which seeks to limit or provide preferential funding to health organizations based on the inclusion of
abortion and abortion-education services in their programs. These actions represent the worst sort of manipulation; forcing clinics to jeopardize the health of many patients in order to
receive much needed funding.