Dr. Sikivu Hutchinson’s Moral Combat offers sociological insights into building an effective secular movement. A starting point for building an effective movement would be to realize that people come to secularism with many different backgrounds, experiences, interests, and needs.
For example, contrary to stereotypes of nonbelievers, there are nonbelievers who are wary of people claiming to have answers justified by reason and science. Although the processes of careful reasoning and scientific investigation have brought many benefits, at other times, people claiming to have the one right, rational, and scientific answer have been mistaken and caused problems to others. Dr. Hutchinson gives examples of racial prejudices that were justified in the name of science and reason. Similarly, allegedly scientific ideas are used in putting down women and LGBT people.
Next, while some nonbelievers have the privilege of leaving their churches and coming out as nonbelievers, others feel overwhelming social and economic pressures to appear religious. Poverty and ongoing discrimination make challenging religion a low priority for some. To meet economic needs and fight discrimination take higher priority. Dr. Hutchinson points out that “meeting the practical needs…will drive greater mainstream interest in humanism.”
Dr. Hutchinson also suggests that “Humanist community-based organizations can provide culturally relevant education, mental health and wellness, and other social welfare resources that have traditionally been delivered with supernatural strings attached by faith-based organizations. Without the burden of religious dogma or the carrot of redemption, humanist organizations can nurture human rights and social justice work across boundaries of race, gender, sexual orientation, class, and ability status.”
While Humanist groups have for many years taken interest in social justice and human rights issues, more dedicated intersectional action would be needed to create a fully welcoming and representative movement.