Part of life’s meaning is to care for and help others. This, we believe, is a view shared by most people, including the nonreligious. A life devoted entirely to promoting one’s own interests is a narrow, unfulfilled life.
Everyone, religious and nonreligious alike, understands the value of family. We give priority to the needs to those closest to us because of their importance in our lives and our strong bonds of affection.
But many of us nonreligious, just like many of the religious, also care for those outside our immediate circle. We recognize our obligations to those who are connected to us only through our shared humanity. We are committed to providing assistance to others simply because they are humans in need.
Our concern for others goes beyond material assistance. We also respect them as persons. All people are entitled to the same dignity and rights regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation—or religion.
In this regard, the historical record of religion is mixed. There are many religious leaders who have spoken eloquently in favor of human rights and have resisted oppression. All too often, however, religious dogma has been used to deny human beings their rights, to mark certain groups as less worthy than others. Religious dogma has justified slavery, the subordination of women, and the murder of people of other faiths. Even in advanced democracies, religion is still used as a justification for denying gays and lesbians their full complement of rights.
The nonreligious firmly reject the concept of a chosen people. We should have no dogmas that divide humans into groups. Our circle of concern should embrace everyone in the global community.