The highlight of my morning was being sworn in to jury duty this morning. I had forgotten I had been summoned until yesterday and was wondering what kind of extremist position I would feel comfortable simulating in order to get out of it and go to my math class for a test when the clerk came in and had us all hold up our right hands. I wondered through her list of consequences of perjury if it was going to end in “so help me god.” It didn’t. I would have answered, “I do not,” if it had, but I’m in one of the easiest states to be an atheist: California.
I tell my online friends who live in midwestern and southern states that I’m always jealous of all the activist work they get to do. In California most instances of “Hey, you need to keep government and religion separate” are met with, “Oh, okay. Will do.” Every once in a great while we have a stubborn city government not wanting to play by the rules, but its nothing like we see in Bible Belt states.
For instance, there was the recent dispute in Lake Elsinore who wanted to erect a Veterans monument on public property that prominently featured Christian crosses (with one Star of David they added after the AHA complaint so they could be “inclusive”). Well, it’s been settled swiftly and reasonably by a federal judge who deemed it “unmistakenly religious” and put a stop to the whole thing. That will be the end of that.
The FFRF has been fighting a questionable entanglement of city government and religion in Rancho Cordova near Sacramento, but that’s pretty much the worst we have it here.
Activism in California is centered more around getting out a message that being an atheist is okay and getting together for secular activities that those whose atheism intersects with geek culture, science, and humanism can enjoy. We’re pretty lucky here.