National Secular Movement Update Call

Thursday, June 21, 2012 - 12:00 - 13:00


National Secular Movement Update Newsletter and Call

Call Every Thursday at Noon (ET)
Phone Number: 559-726-1300 Code: 199568

June 14th, 2012

I. White House and Congressional Update

  • House of Representatives: House in session this week and next. The House has been considering land use and energy bills this week. They will finish consideration of an domestic energy bill this afternoon and recess for the weekend. Wednesday afternoon a House resolution holding Attorney General Holder in contempt of Congress in relation to the Fast and Furious operation was passed on a party line vote. Next week’s schedule has not been officially announced but a transportation extension, student loans, and expressing their concern in UN internet regulation is likely. In July the House majority is expected to bring bills related to taxes, including extensions of the Bush Tax Cuts, to the floor. House Republicans are planning on having an  up or down vote on  repealing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, if the the Supreme Court decision doesn't overturn it.  Democrats are going to focus on the importance of the pre-existing condition section in that legislation.
  • Senate: Senate in session this week and next week. Farm bill will be finished by the end of the week. Next are most likely moving on to the Flood Insurance bill.  Very unlikely any Senate appropriations bills will come to the floor with the possible exception of Military-Construction/Veterans Appropriations bill. NDAA (Defense authorization) is a distant possibility in July but not likely.
  • White House: President continues to focus on the “to-do” list for Congress. He made headlines with his immigration enforcement announcement late last week. The Student Loan interest rates will still be a topic as will the coming expiration of the current Highway bill extension. On Monday, he had meetings with the President Calderon of Mexico and President Putin of Russia and President Hu of China. He was at the G20 meeting in Los Cabas, Mexico until Tuesday night.
  • Campaigns and Conventions:  Democratic National Convention is September 4-6 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Republican National Convention is August 27-30 in Tampa, Florida.  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.  
  • Supreme Court: Today (Thursday) and Monday are the last scheduled days for the release of opinions. The decision on whether or not the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (i.e. the individual insurance mandate) is constitutional has still not been released. It will most likely be released on Monday. Experts at guessing Supreme Court decisions think that there is a 75% chance that the mandate will be found unconstitutional.  

II. Events and Calendar

The National Secular Calendar is on the Secular Coalition Website Homepage.  The calendar will include 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].

III. Meet the Secular Coalition!

  • June 22nd, 2012: Executive Director Edwina Rogers Speaking at HUUmanist Annual Meeting
  • 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

IV. Upcoming Conferences and Events

V. Upcoming Meetings

  • Staff from Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) on Monday, July 2nd at 2pm.
  • Rep. Stark’s office (D-CA) and the Senate Armed Services Committee Democratic staff on Tuesday, July 3rd at 11am.
  • The Senate Armed Services Committee Democratic staff on Tuesday, July 3rd at 10am.

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

VI. 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. 

Next call will occur Tuesday, June 26th, 2pm (EST) and the following one will be on Tuesday, July 10th at 2pm (EST). 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! 

VII. In the News

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

Secular Coalition In the News

Alerts, Press Releases, and Blog Posts

Other News

VIII. Legislative and Regulatory Update

  • SCA is submitted comments on the HHS Preventive Services mandate. National Council of Jewish Women joined us on that letter.
  • SCA joined the National Coalition for Public Education (NCPE) in sending a letter to the House Appropriations Committee asking that they zero out funding for the DC School Voucher program in the House Financial Services Appropriations bill.
  • We also joined a letter from the ACLU to House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King expressing concerns about the latest hearing on the Radicalization of Muslims in America.
  • At the end of April, the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships issued guidance on the "Fundamental Principles and Policymaking Criteria for Partnerships” Executive Order. The working group’s report can be viewed here. CARD has a meeting with two members of the White House Council of Faith-Based and Other Neighborhood Partnerships on June 27 to go over the report. Chris will be attending.
  • We have meetings with staff from Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) on Monday, July 2nd at 2pm and with Rep. Stark’s office (D-CA) and the Senate Armed Services Committee Democratic staff on Tuesday, July 3rd at 10am and 11am, respectively.
  • We are also reaching out to Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Dick Durbin (D-IL).
  • We have reached out to the staff person leading the International Religious Freedom Caucus in the House for a future meeting.

IX. States

State Legislative and Regulatory Update

  • Florida: Amendment 8 “Religious Freedom”- Removes the prohibition now in the state Constitution against using revenues from the public treasury directly or indirectly in aid of any church, sect, or religious denomination or in aid of any sectarian institution. If voters approve it in November, state funds may be used to pay for religious services. As the Florida newspaper the Sun Sentinel put it “money, filthy lucre, a raw grab for taxpayers’ millions, is behind Florida’s proposed Constitutional Amendment 8, purposely misnamed ‘Religious Freedom.’”
  • Michigan: HB 5040, the Julia Ward Bill - passed the Michigan House by a vote of 59-50 on June 12 and was transmitted to the Senate.  On June 14 the bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Government Operations. The Senate will remain in session until the end of June. This misleading “Freedom of Conscience Act” would give students in the counseling, social work, or psychology programs the right to discriminate against LGBT students or students who do not agree with their religious views.
  • Pennsylvania: SB 1134 - A bill that would relax the qualifications for employees at religiously affiliated child-care centers in Pennsylvania passed the state Senate Education Committee on Tuesday. Additionally, this bill allows religiously affiliated child-care centers to forgo the annual certification and inspections process required of child-care centers, and instead file a onetime affidavit attesting to their meeting of requirements, free from oversight.

State Chapters

Phase 2 calls start Tuesday! Thank you to our member organizations for spreading the word to your affiliate organizations. Please continue to do so for our phase 2 states! Please contact Kelly Damerow with any contacts you have in our phase 2 states! (Email: [email protected] ; P: 202-299-1091 ext: 204)

Call in number and code (always the same)

  • Number: 530-881-1400
  • Code: 978895

Phase 2 states Initial Organizing Conference Calls

  • Arkansas - 6/28/12, 1pm ET (12pm CT)
  • California - 6/27/12, 4pm ET (1pm PT)
  • Florida - 6/26/12, 1pm ET
  • Georgia - 6/26/12, 2pm ET
  • Missouri - 6/28/12, 2pm ET (1pm CT)
  • Montana - 6/26/12, 4pm ET (2pm MT)
  • Rhode Island - 6/27/12, 3pm ET
  • South Carolina - 6/27/12, 2pm, ET
  • Texas - 6/26/12, 3pm ET (2pm CT)

Phase 1 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 I States

  • Alabama - Friday, July 6th at 1pm ET/ Noon CT
  • Arizona - Monday, July 2nd at 3pm ET/ Noon Arizona time
  • Colorado - Tuesday, July 3rd at 3pm ET/ 1pm MT
  • Connecticut - Wednesday, August 8th at 1pm ET
  • Hawaii - Tuesday, July 3rd at 5pm ET/ 11am HAST
  • 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
  • Pennsylvania - Tuesday, July 3rd at 2pm ET
  • Virginia - Tuesday, July 3rd at 1pm ET

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.

  • Phase 3 (July 16-August 3) - Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Washington 
  • Phase 4 (August 6-17) - Alaska, Delaware, District of Columbia, Idaho, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Wisconsin
  • Phase 5 (August 20-31) - Indiana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Puerto Rico, West Virginia, Wyoming

X. Policy and Research Documents

  • Powerpoints are now available on the website.  These speech will be free and available to everyone in the movement.  Others will be coming soon!
  • 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].

XI. Coalition Expansion

  • Over the next few months, we will be working closely with our board and staff to develop and implement a strategic vision for how to bring the Secular Coalition to the next level, and ensure that we are doing the best job possible of representing the interests of nontheists.   We want feedback from all our supporters!  Please take a few minutes to fill out this survey to give us an overview of your thoughts!
  • 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 will be meeting with the Coalition for Reason next week to discuss areas that we work together on.
  • We have 6 new endorsing organizations:
    • Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry
    • Humanist Society of Suncoast Florida
    • Mid Ohio Atheists Inc.
    • Humanists of Colorado
    • Michigan Atheists
    • The Secular Humanist Society of New York

XII. Member Organization Announcements

XIII. Contact Information

Secular Coalition for America
1012 14th St. NW, Suite 205
Washington, DC 20005

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


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