National Secular Movement Update Call

Thursday, September 27, 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 13, 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. Judicial
VI. SCA State Chapters
VII. Policy and Research Documents
VIII. Secular Coalition Expansion
IX. SCA Member Organization Announcements

We are pleased to announce that our first Congressional Briefing will take place this Monday, October 1 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. The event is also open to the public.

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

I. White House and Congressional Update

  • House of Representatives: The House will not come back into session until after the November elections. This is the earliest a Congress has recessed in an election year since 1960. They are scheduled to return on Tuesday, November 13.
  • Senate: The Senate passed the Continuing Resolution funding the government for six months last Friday. The Senate is also scheduled to stay in recess through the November elections and return on November 13.
  • White House: The President gave remarks on Tuesday at the UN General Assembly. He also spoke at the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative. He was in Ohio on Wednesday for campaign events before returning to DC Wednesday night.
  • Campaigns: There are going to be three presidential debates and one vice presidentail 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: After Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan promised to introduce a resolution against insulting religion at the UN General Assembly, we have started to see draft resolutions leak out. One particularly troubling draft circulated at the Human Rights Council reads: "Deploring the use of print, audio, and electronic media including the Internet and any other means to incite acts of national, racial, or religious violence, xenophobia, or related intolerance and discrimination against any religion, as well as the targeting of religious symbols and venerated persons." This language is pulled directly from a 2009 version of the so-called "defamation of religions" resolution (A/HRC/RES/10/22). Fortunately it appears the Council will not take this up before its session closes on Sept. 28, but we can't be sure. Also, the NGO Committee on Freedom of Religion or Belief is hosting a lunch meeting Thursday with Dr. Paul Bhatti, Adviser to the Prime Minister of Pakistan on Minority Affairs. We plan to discuss with him blasphemy laws and their harmful consequences for religious minorities, dissidents, and nonbelievers. The draft resolution can be found here: (Michael DeDora, [email protected], 646.706.6080)

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]

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

  • We are working to reschedule our meeting with the staff of Sen. Rubio (R-FL). Last week’s meeting had to be postponed due to a scheduling conflict in the Senator’s office. 
  • Chris will be accompanying Jason Torpy of MAAF to meet with Sen. Blumenthal (D-CT) this Friday.

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, October 9th at 2pm (EDT).  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

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more news!

Secular Coalition in the News

Alerts, Press Releases, and Blog Posts

Other News

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

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

IV. Legislative and Regulatory Update

  • Two weeks ago, the Senate Judiciary Committee favorably reported a bill that would establish a permanent background check system for child care providers (S. 645). The program is a voluntary one so no provider – religious or secular – would be required to use the system. 
  • Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-TN) introduced a resolution reaffirming the importance of religion in the lives of United States citizens and their freedom to exercise those beliefs (H.Res. 789). Among other things, this bill offers the claim that "Judeo-Christian heritage has played a strong role in te development of the United States". 

V. Judicial

  • Challenge to Utah anti-bigamy law.  A Utah federal district court has denied a motion made a county attorney to dismiss as moot a challenge to the state’s anti-bigamy statute brought by members of an openly polygamous family (who appeared on a TV show on the subject). The county attorney argued that his office has recently adopted a policy of not prosecuting under the statute unless there has been some other criminal conduct as well.  The court ruled that the case was not moot because this policy could be reversed at any time.  The suit argues that the law violates the constitutional rights of polygamists.  
  • Complaint filed with I.R.S. about politicking by CO Christian group.   Americans United for Separation of Church and State filed a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service asking it to investigate the Colorado-based Ridgway Christian Center for violating tax code limitations on the political activities of non-profit organizations.  A magazine distributed by Ridgway included a headline that read, “Honor God! Love your country! VOTE REPUBLICAN!”
  • TRO issued allowing cheerleaders’ Bible signs at TX school football games.  Following a complaint from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the Texas Association of School Boards advised the Kountze (TX) Independent School District to ban football cheerleaders from displaying banners, including “run-through banners,” containing Bible verses.  Cheerleaders and their parents filed suit in state court seeking a temporary restraining order allowing them to use the banners.  The court issued a TRO restraining the school district from preventing the cheerleaders from displaying banners  and has scheduled a hearing for early October to consider whether the TRO should be converted into a temporary injunction.
    (Bill Burgess, [email protected], 202-238-9088)

VI. SCA State Chapters
State Legislative and Regulatory Update

  • Michigan – The House of Representatives opened its Wednesday, September 12th session with Rep. Lisa Brown adapting an invocation Secular Coalition for America president Herb Silverman’s delivered at a Charleston city council meeting. Here is an excerpt “I don’t ask you to close your eyes, but to keep your eyes constantly open to the serious issues that government can and should solve or improve. I don’t ask you to bow your heads, but to look up at what you can accomplish by applying your considerable talents and experience to the problems that confront us. As we work together on behalf of all who live in this state, may we gain strength and sustenance from one another through reason and compassion.”
  • Michigan – HB 4934 requires public schools to allow students to recite the pledge of allegiance with “under God” every day. It passed both houses and is awaiting the governor’s signature. Michigan was one of only 6 states without such a law.
  • Same-sex marriage is on the ballot in Maryland, Minnesota, Maine, and Washington State this election day.  

State Chapters
New State Chapters




  • Pennsylvania and South Carolina will become officially recognized chapters this weekend!
  • Secular Coalition for America Executive Director Edwina Rogers will conduct a signing ceremony with Secular Coalition for South Carolina chapter co-chairs Amy Monsky and Matt Facciani the morning of Sunday September 30th at the Carolina Secular Conference in Charleston.
  • States away at the Pennsylvania State Atheist/Humanist Conference, Chief of Staff Eliza Kashinsky will hold a signing ceremony with chapter co-chairs Justin Vacula and Brian Fields.
  • These will be the third and fourth operating chapters, joining Colorado and Massachusetts, with eight more states predicted to be ready to launch by November.
  • Visit for more information on your state’s chapter.

Conference Calls

  • Starting in the new year we will be rearranging the conference call schedule and employing online technologies to better facilitate chapter development and provide more flexibility to accommodate everyone’s schedule.
  • We will continue with the current conference call schedule through 2012. To join in, call in to 530-881-1400 and enter the participant code 978895 on your state’s scheduled date and time. Please spread the word about your state’s next conference call!
  • Call Schedule:
    • 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
    • Fri. Oct. 5th: 1pm ET Alabama
  • 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.
  • Next week we will announce the dates and times for our final round of initial organizing calls 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.

VII. 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. (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].

VIII. 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 75.  Our new endorsing organization is:
    • Camp Quest West
    • Stockton Area Atheists and Freethinkers
    • Sacramento Area Coalition of Reason
    • Free Inquiry Group of Southwest Florida
    • Gloucester County Humanists
    • Metroplex Atheists

IX. SCA Member Organization Announcements

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




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