National Secular Movement Update Call

Thursday, September 20, 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

September 20, 2012 

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

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

I. SCA Member Organization Announcements

The Secular Student Alliance and CampQuest (SCA member organizations) have been nominated for the Chase Community Giving Program.  This gives them the opportunity to get up to $250,000 in grants.  The grants will go to the top vote-getters on facebook; you can vote for the Secular Student Alliance by clicking here, and for Camp Quest by clicking here (you get two votes).  The cut off is Wednesday, September 19th at midnight, and every vote will help ensure that the organizations recieve the largest grant they can!

II. White House and Congressional Update

  • House of Representatives:  The House will be in session from Wednesday through Friday, primarily to consider any changes to the Continuing Resolution the Senate might make. The House majority has announced there will be no further votes before the November elections. They were originally expected to be in session through part of October. The House is not expected to take up an extension of the Farm Bill. This marks the first time since 1973 that the Farm Bill has expired.
  • Senate: On Wednesday, the Senate was scheduled to continue consideration of a veterans’ jobs measure and then move to consideration of the Continuing Resolution to fund the government.  
  • White House: The President will participate in a town hall with Univision on Thursday. Monday the President and the First Lady will appear on “The View”. The President will also speak before the United Nations General Assembly on Monday.
  • Campaigns: There are going to be three presidential debates and one vice presidential debate.  The presidential debates will occur October the 3rd in Denver, October the 16th in Hempstead, NY, and October the 22nd in Boca Raton, FL.  The VP debate will be on October 11th in Danville, KY,
  • UN: In response the controversial film on the Islamic prophet Muhammad that has sparked widespread protests, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has promised to speak at the UN General Assembly next week on adopting a resolution against insulting religion. Erdoğan, who will speak on September 25, said that "freedom of thought and belief ends where the freedom of thought and belief of others start." Erdoğan's efforts will probably find little support at the UN, as the concept of "defamation of religions" has fallen out of favor there. However, in response to Erdoğan's declaration, the Center for Inquiry released a statement making clear that any UN resolution protecting religious ideas from questioning and dissent would be dangerous and misguided, and conflict with foundational international agreements. We will keep you updated with any developments.
    News story:
    CFI press release:
    (Michael DeDora, [email protected], 646.706.6080)

III. 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]

The Richard Dawkins Foundation, the Secular Coalition, and other organizations are also working on a shared calendar that will be able to be used by many secular organizations.  Look for more information soon!  (Elizabeth Cornwell)

Meet the Secular Coalition!

Upcoming Conferences and Events

Upcoming Meetings

  • Staff of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL): Thursday, September 20. 10:30am

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 legislative and regulatory call will occur on Tuesday, September 25th at 2pm (EDT).  We have confirmed the coalition manager for Mitt Romney's campaign as the speaker on this call.  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!

IV. Secular Movement In the News

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more news!

Secular Coalition in the News

Other News

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

  • Banned Books Week (September 23rd)
  • Blasphemy Day (September 30th)
  • Freethought Day (October 12th)
  • October is Freethought Month

V. Legislative and Regulatory Update

  • Last Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee favorably reported a bill that would establish a permanent background check system for child care providers (S. 645). We are waiting from a response from the Committee to see if the bill would supersede any state exemptions for religious child care providers. 
  • We are pleased to announce that our first Congressional Briefing will take place on Monday, October 1st at 10:30am. It will be for staff of the House of Representatives and will feature a panel including Dave Niose, President of American Humanist Association, Greg Epstein, Humanist Chaplain at Harvard University, and Professor Chip Lupu of George Washington University School of Law. We highly encourage you to call or email your Representative’s office and request that a staff member attend this informative briefing.

VI. Judicial

  • Suit challenging 10 Commandments monument at school.  FFRF has filed a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a 6-foot tall Ten Commandments monument displayed in front of Valley High School in New Kensington, Pennsylvania.  The monument is one of the many around the country that were originally donated by the Fraternal Order of Eagles in the 1950s for display on public property. 
  • Two more suits filed challenging ACA contraceptive coverage mandate.   Two more suits challenging the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive coverage mandate have been filed in the past week.   In the first case, the plaintiffs are Hobby Lobby, a chain of hobby supply stores that operates over 500 stores in 41 states, and Mardel, Inc., a chain of 35 Christian bookstores in 7 states.  Both companies are owned by a single family, who identify as evangelical Christians.  The second case was filed by Missouri’s College of the Ozarks, a Christian school.  Both suits allege that the plaintiffs object to providing coverage on religious grounds and that being compelled to provide it is a violation of the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
    (Bill Burgess, [email protected], 202-238-9088)

VII. SCA State Chapters
State Legislative and Regulatory Update

  • Missouri - Broad religious exemptions to contraception coverage were enacted by Missouri lawmakers, overriding the veto of Governor Jay Nixon. Although Missouri and 20 other state already have some form of exemption from contraception coverage, this newly expanded law is the first in the nation directly rebutting the federal contraception mandate. The new law requires an insurer to provide policies without contraception coverage for those who request it. Nixon vetoed the bill because Missouri already has strong religious exemptions in its insurance laws and this expansion could allow insurers to claim a religious or moral exemption and thus deny birth control coverage to women who want it. This measure was championed by the Missouri Catholic Conference, Missouri Right to Life and other religious groups. 

State Chapters
Phase 4 initial organizing conference calls were a huge success! Illinois had the largest number of participants yet with 43 callers! To join in, call in to 530-881-1400 and enter the participant code 978895 on your state’s scheduled date and time.

Thurs., Sept. 20th: 2pm ET Ohio; 2pm CT Kansas; 3pm CT Iowa
Tues., Sept. 25th: 1pm ET Florida; 2pm ET Georgia; 2pm CT Texas; 2pm MT Montana
Wed., Sept. 26th: 1pm ET Rhode Island; 2 pm ET South Carolina; 1pm PT California
Thurs., Sept. 27th: 12pm CT Arkansas; 1pm CT Missouri
Mon. Oct. 1st: 1pm MT Arizona
Tues. Oct 2nd: 1pm ET Virginia; 2pm ET Pennsylvania; 1pm MT Colorado; 11 am HST Hawaii
Wed. Oct. 3rd: 12pm ET Kentucky; 1pm ET Connecticut; 2pm ET Michigan
Thurs. Oct. 4th: 2pm ET Massachusetts

Agendas for the calls will be posted to each state’s page on 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. Please spread the word about your state’s next conference call!




Our final round of initial organizing calls will be in October for our patient phase 5 states of Alaska, Indiana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

VIII. Policy and Research Documents

  • Powerpoints are now available on the website.  These speeches will be free and available to everyone in the movement.  
  • Introducing the Open Access on-line Research Library at the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society & Culture, Trinity College, Hartford, CT.  Go to  This is the academic website for ISSSC.  From there you can access (top right) all the reports and materials on the American Religious Identification Survey series since 1990. 
  • We are also intersted in gathering and posting more research on blasphemy and freedom of speech legislation material in different countries.
  • The 2012 Interim Report by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Heiner Bielefeldt, has been released. The report focuses on the rights to change or leave a religion, and to persuade others to convert.   (Barry Kosmin, [email protected])
  • 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].

IX. 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 69.  Our new endorsing organization is:
    • Connecticut Valley Atheists Organization 

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


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