National Secular Movement Update Call: Nontheists help with disaster relief

Thursday, November 1, 2012 - 12:00 - 12:30
Call In Details: 
Phone Number: 559-726-1300 Code: 199568
National Secular Movement Update
Newsletter and Call
Call Every Thursday from 12PM - 12:30PM (ET)
Phone Number: 559-726-1300 Code: 199568


November 1st, 2012 

Many nontheist organizations are working to provide assistance to those affected by the recent storm.  The Secular Coalition has put together a list of resources for those who want to help.

Table of Contents:
I. White House and Congressional Update
II. Secular Events and Calendar
III. Secular Movement in the News
IV. Legislative and Regulatory Update
V. Judicial
VI. SCA State Chapters
VII. Policy and Research Documents
VIII. Secular Coalition Expansion
IX. SCA Member Organization Announcements

Please join our movement today! Follow this link to the SCA sign-up page.

I. White House and Congressional Update

  • House of Representatives:  The House is scheduled to return on Tuesday, November 13.
  • Senate:  The Senate will also reconvene on November 13.
  • White House:  The President will tour storm damage in New Jersey on Wednesday.
  • Campaigns:  Governor Romney will spend Wednesday in Florida. Congressman Ryan will be in Wisconsin.  

II. Secular Events and Calendar
The National Secular Calendar is on the Secular Coalition Website Homepage.  The calendar includes major secular events, state chapter calls, Secular Coalition speeches, and national secular calls.  If you have an event to add, or questions, please e-mail nathan@secular.org

Meet the Secular Coalition!

  • November 3, 2012: Kelly Damerow Speaking at Florida Secular Rally
  • November 4, 2012: President Herb Silverman speaking at the Washington Congregation of Secular Humanistic Judaism
  • November 5, 2012: President Herb Silverman speaking at One More Page Books, Arlington, VA
  • November 9, 2012: Chris Lombardi and Lauren Anderson Youngblood speaking at Skepticon.

Upcoming Conferences and Events

Upcoming Meetings

  • The staffer we had been coordinating with in Sen. Rubio’s office will be in Florida through the election. We agreed to arrange a meeting with him just after the election.

If you are interested in attending one of these meetings, please contact chris@secular.org.

Legislative and Regulatory Update Calls
Every other week on Tuesdays at 2pm a call featuring federal policy decision makers. Speakers will include Democratic and Republican House and Senate Staff members, Department of Defense, Education, and Health and Human Services policy officials.  We expect to feature at least one decision maker per call.  

The next legislative and regulatory call will occur on Tuesday, November 20th at 2pm (EDT) and the featured speaker will be a pollster.  (No call on Election Day).  Current donors will receive an invitation; if you are interested in participating in these calls, please donate today!

III. Secular Movement In the News

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more news!

Secular Coalition in the News

Alerts, Press Releases, and Blog Posts

Other News

Future Events
Are there any upcoming issues or events that the movement needs to coordinate press around?

  • Carl Sagan Day (November 9th)
  • Mark Twain's Birthday (November 30th)

IV. Legislative and Regulatory Update
Federal
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  • SCA has joined other members of the Coalition Against Religious Discrimination in sending a letter to federal agencies’ Offices of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. The letter offers suggestions on how the recommendations by the President’s Interagency Working Group on Faith-Based and Other Neighborhood Partnerships report can be improved. For example, the CARD letter is particularly requesting that the OFBNP make it clear that alternative service providers will be made available if a beneficiary objects to the religious character of a social service organization. The Working Group’s sample forms are not clear that this is required by agencies and not merely an option. 
  • The Coalition for Liberty and Justice will have its next meeting on Friday November 9. They will be discussing a recently-released poll on American attitudes toward religious exemptions.
V. Judicial
  • MA Supreme Court to Hear Pledge Case.    The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court last week granted an application for direct appellate review of the trial court’s decision in Doe v. Acton-Boxborough Regional School District, a case brought by the American Humanist Association on behalf one of its members, a humanist family.  The suit is challenging the constitutionality of a state law requiring the daily recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in Massachusetts schools under the equal protection provision of the state constitution as religious discrimination. 
VI. SCA State Chapters
State Legislative and Regulatory Update

  • Governor Races
    • 11 states have scheduled gubernatorial elections in the 2012 electoral cycle: Delaware, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia.
    • Heading into the November election, the Democrats hold eight of the seats and the Republicans hold three seats.
    • 4 states are likely or lean Democrat: Delaware, Vermont, Missouri, West Virginia
    • 4 states are likely or lean Republican: Indiana, North Carolina , North Dakota, Utah
    • 3 states are considered a toss up: Washington, Montana, New Hampshire
      • In both Montana and New Hampshire, a win by the Republican candidate will possibly mean one political party holds the top three positions in a state's government: governorship, majority in the state Senate and majority in the state House.
  • Florida Amendment 8 
    • On the ballot in November, Amendment 8 seeks to eliminate the Florida Constitution's No-Aid Provision (sometimes called the Blaine Amendment), which prevents public funds from being used “directly or indirectly in aid of any church, sect, or religious denomination or in aid of any sectarian institution.”  
    • The impact if Amendment 8 passes:
      • Florida will directly fund houses of worship and other similar organizations to perform social service programs. 
        • Although such funding violates the U.S. Constitution, this has not stopped the Federal government from giving funds directly to churches, synagogues, and other houses of worship to perform “secular” social services.  Evidence has shown, however, that many of those accepting the funds under the federal program don’t separate religion from their secular programs properly and evidence of proselytizing, religious activities, and indoctrination is far more common.
      • Florida would be required to fund religious activities, proselytization, and indoctrination.
        • This practice  violates the general principle of the First Amendment: that no person should be forced to fund religious organizations, teachings, or activities with which they disagree—or even with which they agree.
      • Florida might be required to fund religious entities even if they claim their religious beliefs won’t allow them to perform all of the services.
        • When this occurred on the Federal level, the Obama Administration did not renew a grant with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) for human trafficking services because the USCCB refused to serve or even refer victims of human trafficking for reproductive health services, such as contraception, sterilization, or abortion, services critical to these victims. 
        • Rather than recognize that if they cannot perform the required services and therefore they should not apply for the contract, the USCCB has argued that the government should both give them the grant and allow them to perform only the services they choose to perform. Anything less, they claim, is “religious discrimination.” 
        • Amendment 8 bars the state from “discriminating” against organizations on the basis of religion when granting contracts. Supporters of Amendment 8 will surely make the same exact claims in Florida as the USCCB is making on the national level—religious organizations must be granted money even if they object to performing the required services.
      • Florida would be one big step closer to implementing private school vouchers in Florida.
    • Encourage Florida voters to vote NO on Amendment 8!

Conference Calls

  • Starting in the new year we will be rearranging the conference call schedule and employing online technologies to better facilitate chapter development and provide more flexibility to accommodate everyone’s schedule.
  • We will continue with the current conference call schedule through 2012. To join in, call in to 530-881-1400 and enter the participant code 978895 on your state’s scheduled date and time. Please spread the word about your state’s next conference call!
  • Call Schedule:
    • Thursday November 1st
      • Massachusetts at 2pm ET
      • Utah at 1pm MT
      • Alaska at Noon AKDT
    • Friday November 2nd
      • Alabama at 1pm ET
    • Monday, November 5th
      • Arizona at Noon AST
    • Tuesday, November 6th
      • Virginia at 1pm ET
      • Pennsylvania at 2pm ET
      • Colorado at 3pm ET
      • Hawaii at 5pm ET/ Noon HAST
    • Wednesday, November 7th 
      • Kentucky at Noon ET
      • Connecticut at 1pm ET
      • Michigan at 2pm ET
    • Thursday, November 8th
      • Maine at 1pm ET
      • New Jersey at 2pm ET
      • Illinois at 2pm CT
      • Idaho at 2pm MT
  • Agendas for the calls will be posted to each state’s page on secular.org a few days before the call and a replay of the call will be posted a few days after.
  • We encourage everyone to “like” the Facebook pages of their state chapter, listed as “Secular Coalition for [State].
  • Get the latest updates and sign up to receive emails about the chapter forming in your state on the state chapters page on our website.

VII. Policy and Research Documents

  • Powerpoints are now available on the website.  These speeches will be free and available to everyone in the movement.  
  • The Secular Coalition is looking for helpful research papers, to link to from our website and to determine where additional research needs to be done.  If you are aware of any, please send information to kelly@secular.org
VIII. Secular Coalition Expansion
  • Coalition expansion drive underway!  We are looking to add Endorsing and Allied organizations through additional website sign up opportunities and meetings.  Please recommend any non-movement groups we should meet with to discuss common ground. 
  • We had 34 endorsing organizations in May; we now have 91.  Our new endorsing organization is:
    • Secular Humanist Families of Charleston
    • Black Hills Freethinkers
IX. SCA Member Organization Announcements


To sign up for newsletters, call announcements, and action alerts, please visit our website.

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