Heretic on the Hill: Resolutions, Joint and Otherwise

It’s not quite too late to say Happy New Year! so there, I said it, even though we have a Christian nationalist now running the House, a Supreme Court that believes the Establishment Clause in the First Amendment violates the Free Exercise Clause, and the presidential candidate leading the polls said “Together, we’re warriors in a righteous crusade to stop the arsonists, the atheists, globalists and the Marxists” in a campaign speech.

The Christian nationalist is floundering a little and the Supreme Court hasn’t taken up any cases recently that directly affect the right to discriminate based on religion or the lack of it, so there is a bright side.

I’m not big on New Year’s Resolutions but I did make one, to win the lottery. But only when it’s really big so I don’t have to buy a ticket every week. Big enough that I can retire and make a significant donation to the Secular Coalition for America which reminds me to thank everyone who responded to our year end campaign with a donation. I promise we will put it to good use.

When did New Year’s Resolutions originate, you might ask? At the beginning of each year the ancient Babylonians crowned a new king or reaffirmed their loyalty to the reigning king. They also made promises to the gods to pay their debts and return any objects they had borrowed.

After Julius Caesar came up with a new calendar in 46 B.C.E. and named the first month for the god Janus, who looked both backwards and forwards, Romans began to offer sacrifices to Janus and made promises of good conduct for the coming year. Speaking of Janus and the Roman gods, were the people back then who didn’t believe in them atheists? Or, were they just right. Gods plus time = myths.

You probably know that Congress also does resolutions. They aren’t laws, more like a sentiment expressed by Congress. There are House and Senate resolutions which only need to pass the House or Senate. An example of a House resolution is Congressman Raskin’s H.Res.356 which designated May 4, 2023, as a “National Day of Reason” and recognized the central importance of reason in the betterment of humanity. A Senate resolution which did not pass was S.Res.380 from Senator Graham, a resolution designating the week of October 1, 2023, through October 7, 2023, as “Religious Education Week” to celebrate religious education in the United States. Thanks to everyone who used our Action Alert to oppose that one.

There are also concurrent resolutions which are used for things like setting the date for adjournment by Congress and joint resolutions that have to pass the House and Senate and be signed by the President to become official.

You may have heard that this has been a historically unproductive Congress. In 2023 Congress sent 34 pieces of legislation to the President to be signed into law, and five of them were joint resolutions that did things like appoint people to the Smithsonian Board of Regents. I’d say Congress phoned it in in 2023, but that might be overestimating the difficulty in making a phone call.

This is going to be an interesting year. I’ll be on the Hill and working with the coalition to advocate for and against bills (and resolutions) that affect secular Americans, and protecting their (your) rights. And I’ll be keeping you informed about how to get involved. That’s a resolution.


Spreading Happiness

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