Trump’s Victory and the Challenge to a Secular America, with Larry Decker

November 14, 2016

The religiously unaffiliated, also known as the “nones,” are currently the largest “faith” demographic in the country. Yet evangelicals beat them two to one in turnout at the polls. We live in an increasingly secular nation based on secular principles, but in government, the secular worldview is badly underrepresented. President-elect Donald Trump spoke to many American’s economic struggles, but his is also a victory for the religious right that rallied strongly behind him. Much of Trump’s platform and policy agenda is incredibly unpopular with the American people, which is part of what is so perplexing about his victory. Yet despite being a relative minority within the population, evangelicals reliably vote, and secular Americans overwhelmingly do not.

Here to talk about how we got here and the effort to fix this voting disparity is Larry Decker, Executive Director of Secular Coalition for America. Decker believes that much of America’s core secular values are in grave danger with a Trump presidency. He asserts that SCA and its contributing members (which includes the Center for Inquiry, which produces this program) are preparing to fight relentlessly to make secular American voices heard in order to defend the wall of separation between church and state.

This is point of inquiry. 

On Josh Zepps, host of We the People Live, a podcast in which three interesting, politically minded funny people gather together in a bar and banter about the week’s news conversation. 

More important now, perhaps, than ever and well worth listening to. 

You can find it on Twitter at WTOP, underscore live or just follow me on Twitter at Josh Zepps. If you’re not on Twitter, just search any podcast app for we the people or one word where the people live. This podcast, of course, is the reproduction of the Center for Inquiry, an organization which I think is now more important than it ever has been. An organization that is committed to fostering a secular society based on science, mutual respect and dignity, reason, rationality, all of the values which have been thrown into such stark relief this week for those of you listening at a later date. This is the first show after the presidential election of 2016. So many of our listeners will have been on something of an emotional rollercoaster over the past five or six days. Regardless of what side of politics you’re on. I think it’s important to support the work that the senator inquiry does. You can support that financially by going to center for inquiry dot org slash membership. And of course, you can follow this show on Twitter at point of inquiry. That helps us a lot as well. Larry Decker is the executive director of the Secular Coalition of America, that’s a nonprofit advocacy organization which amplifies our voices, amplifies the voices of the non theistic community in the United States. There are 19 coalition member organizations, which are a part of that organization. And one of those member organizations is the Center for Inquiry itself. It’s a it’s a member of the Secular Coalition for America. So we thought that this would be an occasion. In fact, we thought this even before the election. We just didn’t think that the election could turn out the way that it did to speak to Larry about changing voter patterns in America. The rise of non theistic voters and how he sees the next four to hopefully not eight years of a Trump administration and what we can do to exert our power and make sure that our voices are heard. This is an interesting conversation. And I begin by thanking Larry Dacca for being on point of inquiry. 

Josh, thanks for having me. It’s great to be here. 

So when we originally planned to speak this week, we thought, well, this is going to be an election in which a greater proportion of the of the electorate is secular and non-religious than any other. So that would have to tip the scales even further in favor of the Democratic candidate in a year in which the scales already seem tipped quite firmly in her favor. 

Now, of course, we look back on our former selves with some pity. What happened? 

You know, it’s it’s a it’s a great question, you know, we don’t have all the numbers in yet, but, you know, it’s fair to say that the evangelicals came out very strong again. 

And, you know, they came out and they put all of their weight and support behind Donald Trump and they prevailed. I was looking at some of the exit poll numbers, though, that show an indication that the non-religious did better this year, but we didn’t do as good as we needed to do. About 15 percent of the electorate this year was non-religious in the majority. Those individuals voted for Secretary Clinton about 60 percent. And, you know, a large population said nearly 75 percent. If you take in the third party, candidates of the non-religious individuals were rejected, Donald Trump. So unfortunately, it just apparently wasn’t enough. And even though she won the popular vote and I think that there are a lot of people who are still having a great deal of pain over what happened on Tuesday night, you know, we’re prepared and we’re going to push things and move forward. 

So let’s talk about those evangelical voters then, because voter turnout was not good in either party overall voter turnout. So this is this is part of the problem, right. You know, if Hillary Clinton had even remotely been able to match Obama’s numbers in either of the past two elections, then she would have she would have won handily. 

But evangelicals did come out for Trump, not not overwhelmingly, but to the same extent that that Republicans Trump got roughly what you would expect from a Republican candidate. He didn’t do as well as the past two Republican candidates. And there’s a larger population in the United States to pull from. So I think we can sometimes get a little bit hysterical about what this means and about the whole country having moved towards Trump. I think we need to temper that sentiment with a recognition that just not that many people voted in comparison. But why did evangelicals vote for this guy? This is obviously not a deeply religious man. 

Well, you know, I mean, during the campaign, though, he really spoke to a lot of the things that they wanted to hear, like, you know, repealing the Johnson amendment and passing more religious freedom protection and explain that to us. 

I want to take these one by one repealing the Johnson amendment. 

Oh, yeah, sure. Sure. So the Johnson amendment, if that’s repealed, will essentially allow more more politicking from the pulpit. And really, you know, allow churches that already have very little oversight from the IRS to be able to be engaged in political activities and endorse candidates and and speak out in favor of candidates. I mean, this is something that religious right has been pushing for any number of years. I mean, since it was since it was implemented in the 1950s. So, you know, it’s it’s a big deal for them. 

And we can talk about these one on one. But the funny thing that it’s not even funny, it’s it’s it’s frustratingly funny in its own way. 

You know, I’ve seen a lot of things come out from, you know, Focus on the Family and the National Organization for Marriage and all of these, you know, right wing, more right wing religious conservative organizations that, you know, their number one goal is to get the the Johnson amendment repealed. And so it’s it’s interesting. 

And it’s so I mean, the evangelical supported him because he you know, they they doubled down on him because he spoke to the things that they they wanted to have happen under a Republican president, which is, you know, scary for us. 

Well, also I mean, it also reveals how fundamentally pragmatic and transactional people who wear the veil of piety can be. Right, because I I just assumed that he would be a person who is thrice married and has children from multiple different marriages and who talks as vulgarly as the way he does and is so obviously part of mammon and money, a money grabbing person, big splashy gold all over the place. He’s so obviously not Christian in the old fashioned Jesus sense of the term, but that they can put all of that aside for for pragmatic policy reasons because they want someone on the Supreme Court who’s going to ban abortion and a repeal of the Johnson amendment. It strikes me is that they either hypocrites or the Jane, the generous interpretation. 

They’re willing. They’re pragmatists who can hold their nose and vote for what’s in their interest, which I suppose is true of all voter groups, isn’t it? 

Well, I think it’s a mixture of both of those things, but I think it’s pretty obvious that the evangelicals in this country have no problem selling their soul to the best bidder. And that’s what I think is is something that we have to be really, really cautious of going forward. OK, here we thought we were you were coming to an election season whereby we’ve seen the least amount of of religious strong holding on the American people, which I still think is true. 

But yet it’s very clear that the religious right double down whenever they have to and they will put their own values aside or whatever claimed to be. Values. 

I want to get to those Long-Term Trends in the rise of secular voters in America in a second, but before we leave the Johnson amendment, just in case people have any any questions about it. So the amendment basically prevents nonprofit religious institutions from directly funding political campaigns, is that correct? 

That is correct. And what would what would it take to repeal? How long is the amendment been around and what would it take to repeal it? Is it a simple, simple bill through the House and Senate? 

There are actually currently already two bills that have been introduced that were introduced in September, and they were introduced by two conservative members of Congress. The you know, the whole idea of doing that was to really embolden the evangelical base to get out and vote because the bills are already sitting there. They’re just waiting for the House and Senate to take up to take action on them. I have no doubt that now that we have a Republican House, a Republican controlled Senate and a Republican White House, that these bills will be introduced very early. And one hundred and fifteen Congress is a standalone bill. They may be tagged on to something else ultimately, but there’s a there’s real potential that the bill, the bill could prevail and that if we have to be very vocal about it. 

And that would mean that not only would trade unions be a big source of money for the Democrats and large corporations, a big source of money for Republicans, but all of a sudden, megachurches would be a source of funding for into the political campaign, into the political landscape. 

We would be talking. We would. Yes, you’re absolutely right, Josh. We’d be talking about more more dark money in politics. And with no real with with no with no line of accountability. And it would it would be religious. Dark money. 

Political candidates being selected by Joel Osteen. Right. 

So you mentioned the bill, the bills that they’ve got line lined up there. One of the things that fills me with a little bit of a sense of dread is I think back over my political reporting and reading over the past year or two when I think about instances where it looked like the Republican House was sort of just being silly in passing bills that they knew that President Obama would veto, like they they went through a big jujitsu earlier this year with Obamacare, where they they put together, I think, the sixtieth repeal of Obamacare, which was passed by the House and the Senate. And it turns out in hindsight, I hadn’t paid attention at the time, but what they were actually doing is constructing the repeal in such a way that it was a reconciliation bill, a budget reconciliation bill, which is a type of bill that only requires that is not subject to a filibuster and only requires a simple majority. 

That’s right. And they now have that bill sitting there. And because I thought that it was so improbable that Donald Trump was going to win the election, I thought this was just them doing their standard Republican Kabuki dance of of throwing red meat to the base. But now, of course, there is a bill that will be sitting on Trump’s desk on day one to repeal. 

Obamacare, and it it’s already been been passed. How do you how does that fit into your Washington wonk brain? And and what do we do about it? 

Well, I mean, fortunately, it’s going to have to pass again, particularly if they send the bill to President Obama and he vetoes it. But they have to pass that. They’ll have to pass it again early in one hundred and fifteen Congress. But, you know, now that they have they have stronger numbers than they had before going into this. So I think it’s fair to be concerned about it. And I think that that’s what we really have to be vigilant about, is looking at what the first handful of things that this administration is going to do with this Congress and with this White House. And I’m sorry, with the House and with the Senate. And I think we also have to be extremely vigilant of what’s this shift in the ideology of Speaker Ryan and Majority Leader McConnell going to look like? Because, you know, I I’ve I’ve looked at this, you know, from a number of different ways. And I think that the Republicans have to be concerned, though, not just about 2018, but 2020. And they have to look at the numbers. I mean, you know, it’s not all doom and gloom when we look at, you know, the fact that millennials overwhelmingly voted for for Secretary Clinton and rejected Trump in that, you know, we are seeing the numbers change in the demographics. You know, the religious right agenda is somewhat built on a demographic hardcastle that can only last so long. So I don’t I don’t take those numbers for granted. But I think that the I think they have to be very careful about the rhetoric that they were using during the 2016 campaign. 

When they start actually implementing or beginning in 2017, just to touch on those numbers of millennials, I have seen several reports looking at the way that 18 to 25 year olds voted, which, of course, is overwhelmingly Democratic and saying, look, we did. 

This means that we just have to wait for all people to die because the next generation is obviously going to be heavily so Democratic that the Republican Party will barely exist. If you look at the voting preferences of 18 to 25 year olds, I think that’s mistaken. I think part of the reason why 18 to 25 year olds Democratic is not because they cast in stone Democrats, which will last forever. It’s because they 18 to 25 years off and 18 to 25 year olds tend to just broadly be. Yeah, let’s share the wealth. Why not? I mean, everyone does the old cliche about people being if you’re not if you don’t left wing when you’re young, you don’t have a heart. And if you’re not conservative or all, you know, the brain is that, as the cliche goes, do you how do you try to think about extrapolating out from current trends? Obviously, some portion of that cohort of young people is going to end up being conservative as they earn more money and get a mortgage and all that sort of stuff. But do you ever think about how much? 

Well, you know, what I think about actually is is the changing and the religious demographic. You know, now that we are the we’re the largest religious demographic in the Democratic Party, for instance, we’re the largest religious demographic in the country at twenty five percent. We you mean the no religions. I mean the no religions. That’s correct. And, you know, with that with that said, I mean, in the past eight years, we’ve doubled in terms of the number of millennials that claim no religion. I mean, today it’s almost 40 percent of 18 to 35 year old to claim no religion whatsoever. And with that said, I think that’s going to be more about values. Yeah. Now, people may become more conservative as they get older. And I understand the old adage, you know, but I think that the the values are going to remain the same. I don’t think it’s going to be as. It’s not going to be this this type of rejecting religious value conservative. I think it’s going to be more based on secular values. Well, they may look at economics and other issues, a slightly more conservative. 

Yeah, I think that’s a good point. You might get more conservative as you grow older, but you don’t get more religious. 

Right. Right. 

So let’s just think about how your job changes and how the job of people who are involved in trying to make the government as secular as possible changes. What what in your planning for a start? Would did this blindside you? And secondly, how much planning and thinking have you done about the different pathways to to upholding the things that we care about in a Clinton administration versus a Trump administration? 

Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, I’ll I’ll say two ways. I mean, personally, it really floored me. And I was I was just taken taken aback. I mean, for months, however, we’ve been talking about the seriousness of Trump’s camp candidacy and his campaign. And certainly, you know, a lot of a lot of the various areas in the country where we just knew that there was a pathway to victory for him. 

So, you know, it’s as an organization and from a professional standpoint, you know, we’ve been very prepared in terms of the issues that we need to to be focused on. And, you know, right now we’re very focused on looking at the transition and seeing what direction they’re going to go into. We’re certainly going to be extremely vigilant in the next few months watching this transition into the White House, but also looking as the new Congress comes in. You know, a couple of lines that I can know, just thoughts that I can point out there. I mean, we’re talking about, you know, potential short list of cabinet positions, including, you know, Ben Carson as the secretary of education or Health and Human Services. You know, this is the same guy and he was talking about this when he was running for president that believes in young earth creationists and that the pyramids were built by the biblical Joseph to store grain. And, you know, I mean, it’s also looking at climate and science deniers like Myron Ebell to head to the EPA. 

I mean, these are things that we have to be concerned about. We really need to look at as a society. 

Can. Can you just. Can you to unpack that? Because I don’t skip over that. I think it’s fundamentally important because one of the things that’s been haunting me over the past 24 to 48 hours after the initial shock set in was climate change, because I think I don’t think that Trump made it spells the end of American democracy, the end of the American experiment. 

I think America is robust. I think it will be fine. I think he his administration will be bad and we’ll become deeply unpopular fairly quickly. 

However, the one thing that we really don’t have time to be screwing around with that we can’t postpone is climate change. And just tell us about this person who he is appointed to in the interim to head up the EPA, the transition of the Environmental Protection Agency. 

Essentially, he’s he’s a coal lobbyist. He works for a coal industry, funded a libertarian group. He has repeatedly denied that climate change is real and and his has pointed to clean coal technology. I mean it we’re talking about someone who literally has reports that he could read on a daily basis, but just chooses to blatantly deny this and to have him, you know, leading up the transition team for the EPA and being talked about as being, you know, the next head of the EPA is really scary reality. 

So I think you’re absolutely right. I mean, we have to. We have to. And we have to. We have to hold his feet to the coal fire, if you will, on this. 

How do you do that? Just to add in a practical sense, when you know that all of the all of that, that the deck is entirely stacked against you in an administration, I don’t know if you can think of any of any parallels where you’ve been dealing with a subject on which you care about where is just. 

No, there’s no sliver of sunlight coming through from an administration. How do you how do you get the wedge in? 

Well, it’s kind of two things. I mean, what what we do on a on a public scale is we really try to engage our constituents and those of our member organizations that we represent 19. But, you know, in addition to that, we also try to provide as much Real-Time experience in real time talking points and policy papers and that sort of stuff to our friends up on Capitol Hill so that they are made aware that there’s a very strong secular position on this issue. And, you know, part of this whole process is also helping to educate on the growing demographic in this country. And I think that it’s not specific to this, but it’s one of our fundamental objectives looking at 2018 and certainly 2020 is to really help educate our community that we can’t afford to be a spectator community. We have to be engaged so much more. It became clear on Tuesday night that we have to fight for these issues that we firmly believe in and and that we have a coalition around now. It’s just a matter of getting people to take action. 

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One of the things that worries me about and I won’t stop, I won’t keep being so doom and gloom, I promise to listen that we will we will end up with something positive out of this out of this episode if it kills me. But while we’re still on climate change, you’re one of the problems with the legacy that Obama hands over to Trump. 

Is that due largely to the intransigence of the Republican Congress and their success in making their number one priority to thwart everything that Obama might do with congressional approval rather than work with him on areas in which they might have found common ground? 

One of the consequences is that he’s done a lot of his stuff through executive orders, through, you know, action that is that didn’t require Congress’s approval. And the downside of that, of course, is that your successor can just write another executive order which scraps it. And one of those executive orders is one of the centerpieces of Obama’s climate policy, which is restrictions on on the pollution that that coal fired power plants, while at any power plant, can can emit. Are you looking at that with caution? And are you as concerned that I as I am that I’m that I’m in Trump’s first week? He’ll just scrap those executive orders and it’ll be it’ll be full steam ahead for the call for the coal plants? 

Yeah, I actually think it’s that after the inaugural parade that the the president, the new president who will have been sworn in at that point will go back into the White House, go into the Oval Office and sign a handful of executive orders that are going to overturn a lot of things, you know, potentially not just not just that particular protection for the environment and on coal burning factories and industries in this country. But also, you know, let’s look at the protections for employees of federal contractors having to, you know, follow the same types of federal protections that are put in place to protect LGBTQ people and to protect women and to protect, you know, we could see an overturn in a backlash on any number of issues. And I guarantee you that right now in the Trump transition team, there are any number of lawyers who are sitting there going through every single executive order that President Obama put into place to see what they can do legally in the very short term and also what will have the most political impact so that he can show America that he is making America great again and he’s bringing that type of change to Washington that he promised. So, yes, I’m concerned about it. 

And I think you raise a good issue and talking about it. And this is one of the reasons that I think that we have to have as many people engaged in this fight as possible. Now, unfortunately, when it comes to executive orders, there’s there’s less that that can be done in terms of, you know, if we were talking about, you know, trying to overturn legislation or going through the court system or even trying to implement new new legislation and regulation. So it’s it’s it’s it’s unfortunately a serious reality and one that we have to be very mindful of. 

Let’s touch briefly on the Supreme Court. I am frustrated with Ruth Bader Ginsburg for not having retired at some point in the past eight years. Let’s hope that she is well for the next four to eight years. And that being said, there is still one seat on the court that the Republicans were shrewd enough not to confirm Obama’s Obama’s nominee. Where do you see the Supreme Court going and Western best case scenarios? 

I think it’s one of the biggest issues that will affect any minority community in this country and certainly those who believe in separation of church and state, because the president elect has made it clear the type of justices that he wants to appoint. 

And, you know, I think that with the potential of, you know, anywhere from one to probably three seats that in the next four years might come up, that that that puts a major disadvantage to to the work of the secular community. In particular, if we have justices, as he has said, that would fill the mold of former Justice Antonin Scalia. So, you know, I it’s it’s you know, we get one more area where it’s it’s exceedingly grim. I hope it. But I think it’s one thing that we can also really appeal to, you know, hopefully for the betterment of of of his ideas and his thoughts and really help to educate him on why it’s important that we actually put the right people on the court and that we don’t turn back this this recent history of progress that we’ve made in this country. 

Educate who. Educate. Trump. 

Educate the administration, certainly, and play a role on that in the Senate and work with our our partners on the Senate Judiciary Committee to make sure that that the right questions are asked and that the opinions of the Democrats to the minority on the Senate Judiciary Committee are heard and that they stand up to do the right thing. 

You know, it’s it’s a difficult place to be in. And even though the Democrats have been in the minority for for a while now in the House and Senate, it’s a very difficult place to be. 

I mean, it’s it strikes me, Larry, that once the nominee is named, there’s then the rest is is mostly just for show. And it’s very difficult for the minority party to do anything once that once that hearings I mean, the Senate is supposed to do is just advise and consent. And if you have the majority like the Republicans have, then you can block it indefinitely. But if you’re the minority, then I don’t see what what you can really do without creating a constitutional conundrum. The point at which I would hope that we can get some of our interests heard is when the short list is being drawn up. Do you how do you know how that is actually done and who does that? And is there any chance for a fair also for any other lobby group to get the ear of the people who are writing the short list? 

Well, I would suggest two things. One. 

You know, during the campaign, candidate trumpet put out a list of about two dozen individuals that he thought had the right temperament and the right credentials to be Supreme Court justices. 

I don’t think that there was a single person on that list that we agreed with in terms of having them join the court, because they all have have extremely harsh conservative credentials and, you know, have had stood for religious privilege in this country and things that that we would not stand for. They certainly are candidates that are OK with rescinding the reproductive rights of women, the LGBTQ qualities that have that have been before the court in the past several years. So, you know, I mean, it’s it’s a challenge. And I think that that list is essentially already drawn up. And what we have to do is we have to be vigilant and we have to be strong with, you know, again, our members and get people engaged in the process. You know, there’ve been conservative judges who have been appointed to the court before. And, you know, I kind of go back to the 1980s when Judge Bork was rejected by there, by the Democrats in the Senate, when Ronald Reagan had appointed him to have nominated him to be a justice on the court. So I think that there’s there’s precedent where we can we can hopefully help to block nominees and make sure that we get more moderate judges on the court and that we get our nominees from the Trump administration that would be more moderate and more appealable and an appropriate for where we are in our history. 

I would also just add that many observers criticize the blocking of book as the beginning of the politicization of the process of appointing Supreme Court justices. So I’m not sure that it’s an unalloyed it’s good in its historical implications. But I take your point. It is possible. Let’s talk to talk about potentially Sonia subjects, the long term trends of voters in America. You make the point that Trump’s agenda is incredibly unpopular with the people who didn’t vote for him. So this is not you know, if we thought that if Obama is if one of Obama’s great regrets, as he says, it is the fact that he wasn’t able to bring the country together in the eight years that he was in power, that sure as heck isn’t going to change. Does that give you some hope that in in the medium to longer term, the the the numbers run outside? 

Well, it does to some degree. I mean, the majority of Americans still side with secular values and issues that are important to secular Americans. 

I mean, I look at nearly 80 percent of Americans support legal access to abortion. More than 70 percent of Americans favoring nondiscrimination laws protecting LGBTQ people. Nearly 70 percent of Americans believe that religious employers should be required to provide birth control services to their employees or birth control to their employees. And more than half oppose using taxpayer money to pay for religious education. So I think that if there was such a thing, which I don’t believe there was, you know, as a referendum in this election, it was, you know, around change. It wasn’t on the issues that most Americans can can side on. You know, with that said, I think that we have work to do in terms of, you know, reaffirming our strong relationships with faith that allies to stop religious right’s agenda for the next four years. I think that we really need to redouble our efforts on talking about secular values and promoting secular values, voter accord ahead of the midterm elections and try to work to solidify, consolidate our voting block. 

And it’s like I said before, I just don’t think that we can afford to be a spectator community in in politics. And, you know. I think we also need to really help elevate secular values across the political spectrum, not just, you know, mobilizing secular Democrats, but also working with secular Republicans and libertarians and Green Party affiliated individuals. You know, if if if the Democratic Party, though and this is something that I think is very important, it is actually looking to make some major gains in the midterms. They have to look to the religious community in this country because we are, without a doubt, one of the greatest untapped forces in politics. And we really we can be there to support them because the majority of our of our community has sided with with Democrats to me. We saw that throughout this election. 

It’s a it’s a good point that you make about this being a change election rather than a specific Republican election. The Wall Street Journal did a did a great piece, I think was last Friday about the looking at the specific county in Pennsylvania, which accounted for 40 percent of Pennsylvania’s swing towards Trump and a large number of people. There were two time Obama voters who voted for Trump because they didn’t really think that things were going terribly well and they liked the same message of change. And they quite like Obama, but they don’t think that he quite pulled off to the level of change that they were hoping for. So they thought they’d change back again and Trump would be a breath of fresh air. There was nothing rigidly ideological about that. There was nothing deeply religious about that. I’m hoping that that maybe our coalition and those types of voters and maybe even libertarian voters who might be turned off by the next four years of whatever, whatever pandering the Trump administration does to evangelicals could form some kind of cobbled together secular coalition that expands across, you know, that isn’t just residing in the Democratic Party, but becomes a fundamental core that has a strength in a way that the evangelicals don’t because they’re so heavily dominated in a single party. 

Is that too optimistic? 

I it’s optimistic. There’s no doubt about it. Is it too optimistic? 

I don’t think so, because I think that a lot of the I think that what’s going to happen is the American people who voted for change and not necessarily they voted for change because they thought Washington was broken and they thought that here we had a different kind of candidate that can come in and clean it up and fix it and make it different and make it hopefully start to work in some way, shape or form for everyday Americans again. 

You know, I think that as soon as they see an agenda that is going to be implemented, as soon as they, you know, they kind of wake up and they’re like, oh, wait. 

You know, I don’t I don’t believe in rescinding this. I don’t believe in turning back the clock on this. 

No, no, no, no. What what are they doing? What are they trying to do then? 

I think it’s very likely that very possible that we can get we can get secular Republicans and libertarians and secular, secular, republican, secular, libertarian and secular Democrats, secular greens, secular independents. I think that we can create a coalition. And I think that that’s the direction we need to go into. 

I was speaking during the primary campaign with Howard Fineman of NBC, and he was and Huffington Post, he was saying that he actually feared Ted Cruz at the time more than Donald Trump because he felt like Trump would sort of blunder in like a bull in a china shop and ruin things in a haphazard way. Whereas Ted Cruz knew exactly where to place the landmines, to blow up the entire system and and destroy the New Deal forever. And I I’m if there’s any silver lining to this election, I suppose it is that, look, Ben Carson didn’t win. 

Ted Cruz didn’t win. A man who is extremely unseemly and just I think the worst candidate that we’ve had it certainly in my living memory did win. But he’s not a religious nutter. 

And it’s conceivable that I’m just tried to put a little bit of positive spin here. It’s conceivable that he that whatever he does that panders to religious nutters will be tempered by the fact that he’s not religiously deluded himself. 

Well, I hope that’s. 

I hope that that is the case. I really do. And I wouldn’t disagree with anything you said there. I mean, I was I was deeply troubled when, you know, Ted Ted Cruz was leading in the polls. I mean, you know, this is a candidate who he truly believes the words that come out of his mouth. 

I don’t know that that’s the case where President elect Trump and I think that what we have to really watch is what’s going to happen over the next two and a half months before he gets there. I guess just about two months before he’s inaugurated. And we watch what happens with the transition and the type of people that he chooses to to surround himself by into the influence by now. I will say this much and I say it unequivocally. Governor Pence, Vice President elect Pence scares me as much as Ted Cruz does. And, you know, just in terms of the ideology, in terms of I to borrow your phrase, if I may, a religious nutter, you know, I mean, he he passed some pretty controversial things while he was in Indiana. And he was a fairly controversial and extremely conservative member of the House of Representatives before he came became the governor of Indiana. 

So only does he not believe in in climate change. He doesn’t even believe in evolution. That’s correct. So I never thought you’d never thought you’d hear me saying, let’s pray for the well-being of Donald Trump, but perhaps we ought to pray for the well-being of Donald Trump’s and my pet doesn’t become president. Larry Decca, executive director of Secular Coalition for America, thanks for being on the show. You’ve got your work cut out for you. For the next four to eight years. I don’t envy you, but I’m sure you’ll do us proud. Thanks for being on the show. 

I appreciate that. Josh, thanks so much for having me. You got it. 

Josh Zepps

Josh Zepps

An Australian media personality, political satirist, actor, and TV show host. He lives in Brooklyn, New York. He was a founding host for HuffPost Live.