This was the title of an essay by Richard Dawkins in which he announced: “I am a bright. You are (quite probably) a bright. Most of the people I know are brights. The majority of scientists are brights.” A bright is a person who has a naturalistic worldview free of supernatural and mystical elements. The Brights are an online constituency whose major aim is to lobby for a level playing field for the naturalistic worldview. The Brights movement (www.the-brights.net) originated in the United States where being an atheist is still not widely acceptable to the American public. Here in New Zealand we are fortunate to live in a relatively secular society. However there are still a number of areas where the supernatural worldview enjoys special privileges while NZ brights are disadvantaged.
Consider the following examples:
– Churches pay no taxes; over one million (1 in 3) NZers who have no religion are therefore forced to indirectly subsidise churches
– The Integration Act enables the state to fund in large measure faith-based schools; once again NZ brights are forced to subsidise the promotion of beliefs that they do not subscribe to, beliefs that they may in fact oppose
– Every day that our parliament sits it begins with a prayer to a Jewish god; this means the House of Represents affirms each day the existence of the Jewish god and gives status to this belief
Churches enjoy these traditional privileges unchallenged in spite of the fact that their congregations have declined rapidly in the last few decades. They retain an influence with the establishment – politicians, the media, etc. – far out of proportion to the size of their following. This is because they are organised and, like the proverbial squeaky wheel, they attract attention.
The Brights in New Zealand are attempting to redress this imbalance. Brights include atheists, rationalists, humanists and others who want to promote a naturalistic worldview and who want to reduce the influence of the supernatural outlook. The Brights are primarily an online community who use the web to communicate, to organise and to mobilise.