Secular Coalition for New Jersey Monthly Conference Call
Secular Coalition for America New Jersey Chapter
Initial Organizing Conference Call Agenda
Call-in number: (530) 881-1400 Participant Access Code: 978895
Thursday, September 13th at 2:00 pm ET
Who is here and not here that needs to be here?
Explanation of conference call style and recording
No one is required to speak up, but there will be opportunities to do so.
Agenda available at secular.org state page.
Thank you for joining us for this historic event. The inaugural Secular Coalition for New Jersey monthly conference call!
Despite the fact that there are tens of millions of nontheistic Americans, we remain one of the most marginalized groups in the country.
The Secular Coalition for America is the only 501(c)(4) representing secular and nontheistic Americans.
The Secular Coalition for America is working to make sure that we are heard on Capitol Hill. We fight in Washington DC against religious privileging on a federal level, yet some of the most egregious violations of separation of church and state are being promoted and passed at a state level.
The Secular Coalition for America is forming state chapters across the country.
Our chapters will bring together secular Americans in each state to lobby on secular issues.
Capital city is Trenton
Chris Christie, Republican elected in 2009
New Jersey governors are restricted to two consecutive terms in office, after which they must wait four years before being eligible to run again.
New Jersey State Legislature
Currently in session
Two-year legislative terms
All business from the first year may be continued into the second year
Begin at noon on the second Tuesday in January of each even-numbered year
2012 session began January 10 and will end at a date to be determined by the Legislature
New Jersey Senate has 40 members which serve 4 year terms, Democratic Party controlled with 24 Democrats and 16 Republicans
New Jersey General Assembly has 80 members who serve 2 year terms, Democratic Party controlled with 48 Democrats and 32 Republicans
All 80 general assembly seats up for election in November 2013.
A few examples of previous or current laws, general practice, or religiously-inspired legislation seen in New Jersey that fall within the Secular Coalition for America's scope as an organization are:
The New Jersey Senate opens with a prayer.
NJ A 2448 - Would require that adoption agencies must maintain a child's religious upbringing when placing the child in an adoptive or resource family home. Foster and Adoptive Family Services, the leading statewide advocacy voice for foster and adoptive families for more than three decades, opposes this bill because it limits possible foster families. The bill would discriminate against families on the basis of their religion or non-religion.
NJ A 875- Would require principals and teachers of public schools to conduct an oral recitation from the Declaration of Independence before the opening of school each day in grades 3-12-specifically that "they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights".
National issues sweeping the states
Reframing discrimination as "religious freedom" or "religious liberty"
Similar authorization of discrimination, this time by medical professionals with "Rights of Conscience" bills
Does anyone know any legislation or regulation in New Jersey we should be watching?
Overview of the State Chapter Model
A Secular Coalition for America state chapter is unlike any other nontheistic state organization-it brings together interested organization and individuals for the exclusive purpose of lobbying.
Relationship to the SCA
Chapters are part of the SCA
Same Mission- to increase the visibility of and respect for nontheistic viewpoints in the United States, and to protect and strengthen the secular character of our government as the best guarantee of freedom for all.
Similar Purpose - accomplish its mission through cooperation between local groups and coordinated state lobbying activities.
Fundraising challenges prevent chapter growth
SCA will do all the fundraising and provide all resources the chapter needs
Donations will go to the SCA for the benefit of the state chapters
Don't need to file any tax documentation;Covered under our C4 tax exemption
Have C4 Lobbying privileges to educate and lobby on ballot initiatives, legislation, regulations, meet with policymakers, etc.
Cannot "electioneer" - endorse or speak out against specific candidates
Chapters are representatives of the SCA
As lobbyists we must be the diplomats of the secular movement
Nonpartisan, respectful, diplomatic
We believe secular values are American values
Official Chapter Recognition
Once your state chapter is organized, the executive committee and a representative of the SCA will sign a memo of understanding officially recognizing the Secular Coalition for New Jersey and giving the group access to our resources.
SCA's Support for the Chapters
Initial organizing calls
Focus on setting up the structure, identifying leadership, discussing how the legislature in New Jersey operates and the best ways to meet the needs of the Secular Coalition for New Jersey
After Official recognition
Future monthly calls will become a way to educate and inform: track legislation, coordinate lobbying efforts and coordinate secular organizations.
Agendas available online
Call replays available online
The New Jersey Legislature offers bill searching http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/bills/bills0001.asp
Full bill text and details
Committee hearings calendar
Automatic web publishing
Temporarily: Secular.org>States>Your State>New Jersey
Conference Call dates, time, numbers
Call replays and Agendas
Sign up to receive alerts
Uses our template, but you will be able to update information
Technical set-up work still needs to be done, hope to have up soon
Use of our logo and name Secular Coalition for New Jersey
Email Address for Chair/Co-Chairs
Executive Committee Chair's name at secular.org
Gmail Group Mailing List
For leadership to discuss which issues they should address and to coordinate action
Set up for each state
Will add leadership as admins
Can schedule events
Promotional resources- brochures, stickers, buttons, handouts
Informational resources - Research, fact sheets and policy papers
Trainings and Guides - media and lobby trainings and guides
Powerpoints -available at secular.org/resources
National Secular Calendar - secular.org homepage
National Secular Update Weekly Conference Call
Thursdays at Noon 559-726-1300 Code 199568
No set number of members or roles
Flexible to availability and strengths of individuals who want to get involved
Examples of Helpful Skills: leadership skills, familiarity with local groups, monitor legislation, conduct lobbying visits, mobilize grassroots, IT or website knowledge, social networking familiarity, comfortable speaking with press
New Jersey Lobbying Rules:
LOBBYIST means any person, partnership, committee, association, corporation, labor union or any other organization that employs, engages or otherwise uses the services of any governmental affairs agent to influence legislation, regulation or governmental processes.
Lobbying Registration Information:
Cost: Free, must renew annually and file quarterly reports.
Those who do not wish to be on the Executive Committee, but still want to play an active role and help out once there is work to be done, please email me Kelly@secular.org.
Sign up to receive action alerts to be part of a grassroots campaign when particular issues arise. Sign up online here.
What the SCA is doing until the next call:
Coordinating the lobbying needs of New Jersey with best practices in organizational development and lobbying to create the best structure for New Jersey
What you can do:
Contact us if interested in leadership
Sign up on our website to receive info and updates
Like the facebook page
Check out your state chapters page for updates
Spread the word about the next conference call!
Next Conference Call Date and Time
Thursday, October 11th at 2pm ET
Second Thursday of the Month
same call in number and code
My contact information
Research and Advocacy Manager, Secular Coalition for America
Phone: 202-299-1091 ext. 204