What atheist groups learned from the Christian Coalition

Here was an interesting distinction between Christians and secularists: Christians had the same unifying word, but fought over theology; secularists had the same unifying theology, but fought over words. At least our wars were only verbal.

I give credit to the Christian Coalition. Though I disagreed with everything they stood for, they had a terrific model: put aside minor theological differences, work together on important political issues, and grab media attention. That was their plan to change the culture and make politicians take notice. Their strategy of demonizing atheists and secular humanists, while moving this country closer to a theocracy, worked all too well. I’m willing to learn from anyone who has something to teach us.

I joined a number of secular organizations in the 1990s because each was working on causes I supported. But these organizations saw themselves as competing with one another for funds from what they viewed to be a fixed pie of donors. The organizations were spending too much time arguing about labels (atheist, agnostic, humanistic, freethinker, etc.) and too little time showing strength in numbers and cooperating on issues that affect all secular Americans. I knew we needed to grow the pie to benefit all these groups and the secular movement as a whole.

There were lessons to be learned from the Christian Coalition and its religious right successors, who now argue less about dogma and cooperate more on political goals: preventing women from having access to all reproductive health care, promoting that evolution is just a myth and contending that our country was founded as a Christian nation that allows freedom of religion, but not freedom from religion.

The Secular Coalition for America was formed in 2002 to help break down walls and build bridges among atheist and humanist organizations. As a result, we now cooperate on the 95 percent we have in common, rather than argue about the 5 percent that distinguishes us from one another. The Secular Coalition has grown to eleven national member organizations, and covers the full spectrum of nontheists. Since each member organization has strict limits on lobbying, the Secular Coalition incorporated as a political advocacy group to allow unlimited lobbying on behalf of secular Americans. For too long, our nontheistic community has been considered politically inconsequential. There are over 50 million such Americans, and the Secular Coalition advocates for those millions without god beliefs.

 

Read more at the Washington Post's On Faith.

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There are many Non-religious aid organizations that do not inrcoproate a religious message into their operations or proselytize to those in need. Secular charities don't come with the rigid faith-based ethics, which can end up disadvantaging those in needSome: Secular Humanism organizations and resources.United Nations Children's Fund UNICEF mobilizes political will and material resources to help countries, particularly developing countries, ensure a first call for children and to build their capacity to form appropriate policies and deliver services for children and their families. UNICEF provides emergency and disaster relief.Doctors without Borders Doctors Without Borders/Me9decins Sans Frontie8res (MSF) is an international independent medical humanitarian organization that delivers emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, natural and man-made disasters, and exclusion from health care in nearly 70 countries.The Lance Armstrong Foundation unites, inspires and empowers people affected by cancer.Mercy Corps Mercy Corps exists to alleviate suffering, poverty and oppression by helping people build secure, productive and just communities.Amnesty International AI's vision is of a world in which every person enjoys all of the human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights standards. In pursuit of this vision, AI's mission is to undertake research and action focused on preventing and ending grave abuses of the rights to physical and mental integrity, freedom of conscience and expression, and freedom from discrimination, within the context of its work to promote all human rights.American Red Cross The American Red Cross, a humanitarian organization led by volunteers, guided by its Congressional Charter and the Fundamental Principles of the International Red Cross Movement, will provide relief to victims of disasters and help people prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergencies. The USA's premier emergency response organization, over 91% of Red Cross spending is on charitable services.Oxfam International Oxfam International is a confederation of 12 organizations working together with over 3,000 partners in more than 100 countries to find lasting solutions to poverty, suffering and injustice. The Oxfams operate in over 100 countries worldwide working with local partners to alleviate poverty and injustice.The Nature Conservancy The Nature Conservancy is a leading international, nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the diversity of life on Earth. An environmental group that protects natural habitats and the wildlife within them. Focuses on science-based initiatives.The Union of Concerned Scientists The leading science-based non-profit working for a healthy environment and safer world.Anti-Discrimination The ADSN Project The Freethought Society of Greater Philadelphia's Anti-Discrimination support network (ADSN) is collecting narratives highlighting instances of bigotry against the non- theist community.Womens Health Organizations EngenderHealth an international nonprofit organization that has been working for 60 years to make reproductive health services safe, available, and sustainable for women and men worldwide.Electronic Frontiers Foundation When our freedoms in the networked world come under attack, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is the first line of defense. Blending the expertise of lawyers, policy analysts, activists, and technologists, EFF achieves significant victories on behalf of consumers and the general public. EFF fights for freedom primarily in the courts, bringing and defending lawsuits even when that means taking on the US government or large corporations.American Civil Liberties Union The mission of the ACLU is to preserve all of constitutional protections and guarantees relating to First Amendment rights, including the freedom to practice religion and the freedom not to have religion rammed down our throats, equal protection, due process, and right to privacy.We need more organizations that protect the rights of those who are in need of charity and do not want to have to listen to proselytizing in order to get food or medicine. We also a need more organization that protects the rights of minority religions and those that have no religion.

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