National Secular Movement Update Call

Thursday, July 5, 2012 - 12:00 - 13:00
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

July 5th, 2012

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. SCA State Chapters
VI. Policy and Research Documents
VII. Secular Coalition Expansion
VIII. 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: House is out this week for July 4th recess. Last week, the House and Senate passed Flood Insurance Reauthorization, Student Loan Interest Rate reduction, and Surface Transportation legislation before adjourning for the recess. They have announced they will take up a repeal of the Affordable Care Act on July 11. The rest of the week’s schedule has not yet been announced.

Senate: Senate is out this week for July 4th recess. When they return on Monday, they will turn to possible consideration of a Small Business Tax Cut bill.

White House: President Obama undertakes his first campaign bus tour today (Thursday) and tomorrow in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Campaigns and Conventions: Democratic National Convention is September 4-6 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Republican National Convention is August 27-30 in Tampa, Florida. Green Party Convention is in Baltimore July 12-15; Jill Stein has been selected as their candidate. Libertarian Party Convention is already concluded; happened May 4-6 in Las Vegas; Gary Johnson was chosen as presidential candidate. Contacts established with Romney and Obama campaigns. Mitt Romney is coming to Washington, D.C. for several fundraisers on Monday, June the 25th. The campaign has started an informational call for coalitions every other Tuesday at 7pm, which we will participate in. The staff has also begun preparing our questionnaire for to distribute to the four presidential candidates who are on the ballot (Republican, Democratic, Green, Libertarian).

UN: The 20th session of the Human Rights Council is currently taking place in Geneva (June 18-July 6). The Center for Inquiry and International Humanist and Ethical Union will deliver several statements on topics such as freedom of belief and expression, specifically in regards to the Internet; violence against children accused of witchcraft; and a bill before the Ugandan parliament that would impose the death penalty for practicing homosexuals. We will also track religious freedom resolutions coming out of this meeting. Fortunately, these resolutions no longer contain the harmful “defamation of religions” concept, which was abandoned in 2011, but they still contain troubling language referring “incitement.”

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 [email protected]

Meet the Secular Coalition!

  • July 7th, 2012: President Herb Silverman Speaking at Secular Student Alliance Conference
  • July 8th, 2012: Executive Director Edwina Rogers Speaking at Secular Student Alliance Annual Leadership Conference
  • July 21st, 2012: Research and Advocacy Manager Kelly Damerow Speaking at the Colorado Secular Conference
  • August 31st, 2012: Executive Director Edwina Rogers Speaking at Ascent of Atheism

Upcoming Conferences and Events

Upcoming Meetings

  • Staff with Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA) on Tuesday, July 17th at 9:30am.
  • Staff with Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) on Wednesday, July 18th at 11:30am.

If you are interested in attending one of these meetings, please contact [email protected]

Legislative and Regulatory Update Calls
We will have 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 two legislative and regulatory calls will occur on Tuesday, July 10th and Tuesday, July 24th at 2pm (EDT) (no calls will be held in August.) These calls are open to donors and member organization staff.  Current donors will receive an invitation; if you are interested in participating in these calls, please donate today!

III. Secular Movement In the News
Are there any upcoming issues or events that the movement needs to coordinate press around?

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more news!

Secular Coalition in the News

Alerts, Press Releases, and Blog Posts

Other News

IV. Legislative and Regulatory Update

  • Federal -
    • The House will consider a repeal of the Affordable Care Act on July 11.
    • We are working with CARD to offer language to the Senate-passed Violence Against Women act that will strengthen the anti-discrimination provisions.
    • We had a good meeting with Rep. Eshoo’s staff. We discussed education-related issues such as school vouchers and the existence of student-atheist/freethought groups. We also left a list of local groups in the Congresswoman’s District that could be used to help with future policy discussions at the local level.
    • We talked with Rep. Stark’s staff about reserving a room for a Hill briefing in September. They agreed and we are working on several options for the presentation and the best date for a briefing.
    • Our meeting with Senate Armed Services Committee staff confirmed that they would like to see the full Senate consider the Defense Authorization bill in July. This would set up a conference between the House and Senate in August with final passage in September. This has been the goal for the past few years but has not been successful. The Committee hasn’t heard any talk of floor amendments similar to the Akin and Palazzo amendments in the House-passed version. The Akin amendment would allow servicemembers to discriminate against other soldiers without recrimination if they did so because of religious belief. The Palazzo amendment would prohibit the use of DoD facilities from being used for gay marriage ceremonies even if those ceremonies were legal in the state where the DoD facility is located.
  • Judicial -
    • Moss v. Spartanburg County School District – On June 28, 2012 the 4th Circuit federal appeals court upheld a South Carolina program that allows high school students to earn elective credit toward graduation through off-campus religious courses. Previous cases held that students may be released for religious education during the day as long as the instruction is not on school grounds and the school does not encourage participation. The suit was brought by the Freedom from Religion Foundation, with amicus briefs filed by the American Humanist Association and the Secular Student Alliance, who argued the policy is unconstitutional because students are rewarded for religious participation by receiving school credit. The court ruled the school’s policy had the secular purpose of accommodating students’ desire to receive religious instruction.

V. SCA State Chapters
State Legislative and Regulatory Update
Minnesota – Same-Sex Marriage Amendment- SF 1308 was passed by the Minnesota Legislature in May 2011. The bill proposes an amendment to the Minnesota Constitution that states that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. Although Minnesota law already forbids same-sex marriage, amendment supporters want it cemented into the state Constitution to prevent judges or future legislators from changing it. The amendment will be voted on in the 2012 election. Although constitutional amendment legislation cannot be vetoed, on May 25, 2011, Governor Dayton issued a "symbolic veto" of SF 1308.

PennsylvaniaThe Year of Religious Diversity Resolution – To counter the Pennsylvania House of Representatives declaring 2012 “The Year of the Bible,” Rep. Mark B. Cohen has issued a memo asking for co-sponsors of a proposed resolution to declare 2012 as “The Year of Religious Diversity.” The memo states that “Pennsylvania is now home to [list of a variety of religions] “as well as many who claim no religious affiliation, and non-believers.”

State Chapters
The dates and times of the Phase 3 organizing calls are being announced today! Thank you to our member organizations for spreading the word! Most of the call participants learned about the chapter formation efforts through organizations they are already involved in. We are already working on sending out invites to our phase 3 states and can use your help. Please contact Kelly Damerow with any contacts you have in our phase 3 states! (Email: [email protected] ; P: 202-299-1091 ext:204)

Call in number and code (always the same!) 530-881-1400 code: 978895
New York – Tuesday, July 17th at 1pm ET
North Carolina – Tuesday, July 17th at 2pm ET
Tennessee - Tuesday, July 17th at 3pm ET/ 2pm CT
Washington - Tuesday, July 17th at 4pm ET/ 1pm PT
Minnesota - Wednesday, July 18th at 1pm ET
Mississippi - Wednesday, July 18th at 3pm ET/ 2pm CT
New Mexico - Wednesday, July 18th at 4pm ET/ 2pm MT
Ohio - Thursday, July 19th at 2pm ET
Kansas -  Thursday, July 19th at 3pm ET/ 2pm CT
Iowa - Thursday, July 19th at 4pm ET/ 3pm CT

Phase 1 and 2 organization is underway. We are working on getting the chapter websites up and running, but until then we encourage people to “like” the Facebook pages of their state chapter,
listed as "Secular Coalition for [State]". Please spread the word about the next conference calls for
phase one states. 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.

Second Calls for Phase 1 States
Alabama - Friday, July 6th at 1pm ET/ Noon CT
Connecticut - Wednesday, August 8th at 1pm ET
Kentucky - Wednesday, August 8th at 3pm ET/2pm CT
Massachusetts - Thursday, August 9th at 2pm ET
Michigan - Wednesday, August 8th at 2pm ET/1pm CT

Here are the remaining phases of the state chapter roll out. We will be releasing the exact call
dates and times for future phases approximately two weeks before the calls are scheduled to
begin. Please note that some states have moved from phase 4 to 5 to provide more balance and
phase 5 has been pushed back a few weeks due to the overwhelming response we’ve received
from our initial calls already.

  • Phase 3 (July 16 - August 3) - Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, New
    York, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Washington
  • Phase 4 (August 13 - 17) - Delaware, District of Columbia, Idaho, Illinois,
    Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon
  • Phase 5 (September 4-21) - Alaska, Indiana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota,
    Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin,

VI. Policy and Research Documents

  • Powerpoints are now available on the website.  These speeches will be free and available to everyone in the movement.  Others will be coming soon!
  • The U.S. Department of State's annual International Religious Freedom Report for 2010 is available online for those who want to see what religious freedom is looking like on a national scale. Also of note is the Department of State's list of Countries of Particular Concern, which are countries restricting or imposing on religious freedom.
  • 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 [email protected].

VII. 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 have 3 new endorsing organizations:
    • Tampa Bay Coalition of Reason
    • Detroit Coalition of Reason
    • Omaha Coalition of Reason

VIII. SCA Member Organization Announcements

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

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