Question the Candidates

So you want to represent me?

As a voter, you have the right to know where your elected officials and the candidates trying to win you over stand on the issues you care about. Will they represent your secular values? Will they respect the separation of church and state?

Asking incumbents and candidates questions directly is your opportunity to find out where they stand. This is also a great way for you to educate politicians about secular values and get secular voters on their radar as a constituency worth courting.

Secular Coalition for Iowa volunteer, Justin Scott, asks Secretary Hillary Clinton about Church-State Separation

On the Record

 Ask in person

  1. Find out the date and time candidates are holding campaign events or town halls near you. Save the date. This information is typically available on the campaign’s website or in your local newspaper’s political section.
  2. Print out a copy of our candidate questionnaire.
  3. It’s important to make sure you literally get the candidate on the record! Prepare to record the candidate’s answer by making sure your phone is fully charged and has enough space to record audio and video. If you have a tape recorder or video camera you are familiar with using, bring that with you.
  4. Get to the event early to grab a seat close to the front.
  5. When it’s your turn, identify yourself as a secular constituent (or an atheist, humanist, however you choose to identify!), turn on the record button and ask your question!
  6.  Send your recording to [email protected] so we can help make the information available to other voters in your area.
  7.  Share your experience with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

Here are some sample questions you can ask:

My name is Jane Doe and I am from (YOUR CITY, STATE). I am a secular constituent…

…and I believe strongly that the separation of church and state is the best way to guarantee religious freedom for people of all faiths and nonreligious people like me. How will you make sure that the secular character of our government is protected?

…and I believe that all children deserve access to medically-accurate and evidence-based information. Do you support comprehensive, medically accurate sex education in our public schools?

…and I support the right of terminally ill patients to end their life on their own terms in accordance with their own conscience. Do you support medical aid-in-dying?

…and I don’t think the government should be policing my beliefs, my bedroom, or my doctor’s office. Limiting access to safe, legal, reproductive health care, including abortion, in the name of religion is a violation of our First Amendment rights to freedom of and from religion. Do you support the right for people to make reproductive health decisions according to their own beliefs?

Ask by email

Can’t make it to an event? Email the questionnaire to your candidate’s campaign. Some campaigns are hesitant to click on links, while others might prefer to fill it out online, so we recommend including both a link to the questionnaire and attaching it to your email. You can find contact information or contact web form on the campaign’s website. Don’t forget to forward responses to [email protected] and to share them with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

Here’s a sample email:

Dear [CANDIDATE’S NAME AND TITLE],

My name is Jane Doe and I’m a voter in [YOUR CITY, STATE]. I want to know if you would represent my secular values if elected to office. I would appreciate you taking the time to fill out this questionnaire. I have also attached it to this email for your convenience. Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,
Jane Doe