Secular Coalition Flunks U.S. House on Religious Freedom Issues

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Secular Coalition for America today released its 2011 Congressional Report Card. A majority of the members of the U.S. House of Representatives earned failing grades on seven issues related to religious liberty and discrimination against nontheistic and secular Americans.

The Representatives were scored on seven bills and amendments they voted on during the first session of the 112th Congress. Each addressed important issues for the secular and nontheistic communities. The grades were calculated by the number of votes favorable to secular Americans, as determined by the Secular Coalition, and divided by the total number of votes on all seven issues voted by each individual member.  Not all members voted on all seven issues and their scores were adjusted accordingly.

Representatives earned a grade from “A” to “F” based on their scores. The majority of members, both Democrat and Republican, received a grade of “C” or below, with the overwhelming majority of Republicans receiving a grade of “F”. Seventy-two Democrats and no Republicans received a grade of “A” or “B”.

“The results of this report card show that our secular government struggles to be free from the encroachment of religion,” said Herb Silverman, president of the Secular Coalition. “The only way to protect everyone’s right to religious freedom is to keep all religion out of government and leave it free for the individual to pursue or not.”

Grades earned by Representatives include:

  • Grade A: 17 Democrats, 0 Republicans
  • Grade B: 55 Democrats, 0 Republicans
  • Grade C: 110 Democrats, 6 Republicans
  • Grade D: 5 Democrats, 5 Republicans
  • Grade F: 3 Democrats, 230 Republicans


(The total number of Representatives graded does not equal 435 due to members who did not vote,, did not serve a full term, or were absent due to injury.)

The report card included the votes on the following legislation:

  • HR33—The Church Plan Investment Clarification Act.
  • HR 440—To establish a Special Envoy to Promote Religious Freedom of Religious Minorities in the Near East and South Central Asia.
  • HR471—The Scholarship Opportunity and Results Act.
  • HR 473—To convey land to the Boy Scouts of America, which discriminates against nontheists (voice vote; all Representatives earned a negative score).
  • H. Con. Res. 13— To reaffirm “In God We Trust” as the national motto of the United States.
  • H. Amdt. 95—To eliminate federal funds to Planned Parenthood, a national secular nonprofit organization that provides reproductive and health services, based on religious objections.
  • H. Amdt. 245—To add a new section to the Congressional Acceptance of Scientific Findings acknowledging climate change.


“These grades underscore the importance of having a watchdog like the Secular Coalition for America protecting the secular character of our government,” Silverman said. “Every Representative must be accountable to their constituents—including nontheistic and secular Americans—for how they vote.”

On March 23, 2012, the Secular Coalition for America will lead secular-minded Americans to Capitol Hill for the Lobby Day for Reason, an event to allow atheists, agnostics, humanists, and secular Americans to directly lobby their members of Congress on the issues that matter to the nontheistic community.

The Secular Coalition for America released its 2012 Presidential Candidate Scorecard last month, grading the major presidential candidates on their stances on nine issues important to secular and nontheistic Americans. An updated Presidential Candidate Scorecard will be released this summer, prior to the election, and the Secular Coalition for America will continue to serve as a Congressional watchdog for secular and nontheistic Americans.
 
View the 2011 Congressional Report Card at: http://secular.org/content/scorecards/Congress/2011/Summary

For more information, contact Communications Manager, Lauren Anderson Youngblood at 202-299-1091 ext. 205 or [email protected].

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