National Secular Movement Update Call: Pew Study finds increase in "nones"

Thursday, October 11, 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

October 11, 2012 

A new study from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found that "nones" now make up 19% of the population:  The finding lend credence to the growth of the secular movement, and found that 67% feel that churches and religion are too involved in politics.  One in three Americans under 30 are now unaffiliated.

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

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

I. White House and Congressional Update

  • House of Representatives:  In recess until November 13th.  They held an oversight hearing yesterday regarding security failures in Libya, bringing House members back to DC despite the recess. Major national political issues at this time are security issues surrounding the terrorist attack in Libya, and as well Medicare and the Ryan budget.  House is working on the Nutrition Block Grant Bill from the Ryan budget. 
  • Senate: In recess until November 13. A tax battle is happening behind the scenes-- Congress is preparing for a battle over the budget in the days after the November 6 election.  A bi-partisan group of Senators gathered at Mount Vernon for a three day retreat aimed at producing an alternative debt-reduction strategy including a tax overhaul.
  • White House: Obama met on Wednesday with Secretary of State Clinton.  He spent Tuesday at campaign events in San Francisco and Columbus, Ohio.
  • Campaigns: The first presidential debate was Wednesday night. There are two presidential debates remaining on October 16th in Hempstead, NY, and October the 22nd in Boca Raton, FL.  The VP debate will be this Thursday, October 11th in Danville, KY.  There is a strong focus on Biden and Ryan both being Catholic.  They almost perfectly embody the split in the American Catholic Church, with Biden representing the old-school social focus who are more comfortable with questioning, with Ryan representing the more conservative anti-aborting focused Catholicism.
  • UN:  Civil society leaders and groups are placing increasing pressure on the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and Islamic member states at the United Nations to work for a measure barring criticism of religion. One track being taken by religious leaders who recently met in Pakistan is to call for changes to the UN Charter and other agreements to remove insults against religious ideas from the scope of freedom of expression, and make it a global crime. Another track, which is both more popular and practical, was taken most recently by former Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who wants the UN to approve a measure framing international laws as prohibiting insults against religious ideas. It is important to note that the UN Human Rights Committee, which interprets the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, has stated firmly that the ICCPR is absolutely incompatible with blasphemy laws and fully supports dissent from religion. As such, those in support of blasphemy laws at the UN will likely have to push for an incitement measure if they want anything. (Thank you to Michael DeDora for this update, [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!

  • October 12, 2012: President Herb Silverman speaking at Books on the Square, Providence, RI
  • October 13, 2012: Edwina Rogers speaking at the Alabama Freethought Convention
  • October 14, 2012: President Herb Silverman Speaking to the Humanist Community at Harvard

Upcoming Conferences and Events

Upcoming Meetings

  • We still haven’t heard from Senator Rubio’s (R-FL) office despite repeated requests for a reschedule. 
  • We will be following up with several of the offices that attended our Congressional briefing.

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

Legislative and Regulatory Update Calls
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 23th 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?

  • Freethought Day (October 12th)
  • International Religious Freedom Day (October 27th)
  • Carl Sagan Day (November 9th)
  • October is Freethought Month

IV. Legislative and Regulatory Update

  • Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA), speaking at a banquet at Liberty Baptist Church, claimed that evolution, embryology and the Big Bang Theory are “lies straight from the pit of hell”. He believes the Earth to be “about 9,000 years old” and that it was created in six full days. Rep. Broun is a member of the House Science, Technology and Space Committee. 
  • A Washington Post article released on Monday related a story about almost 400 pastors praying over a kneeling Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO). Rep. Akin is running for the Senate in Missouri and garnered national attention for his comments about rape and women’s bodies being able to naturally prevent pregnancy in an assault.
V. Judicial
  • "Pulpit Freedom Sunday."  According to a story in the Washington Post, 1,400 pastors planned to break the law on  Pulpit Freedom Sunday this past weekend. Sponsored by Alliance Defending Freedom, the day is designed to challenge the Internal Revenue Code provisions that bar 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations (including churches) from endorsing or opposing political candidates. The IRS is unlikely to be able to respond with enforcement actions against offending churches because a 2009 court decision required the IRS to enact new regulations determining who can authorize church tax inquiries, and proposals issued by the agency in response have not yet been adopted.  
VI. SCA State Chapters
State Legislative and Regulatory Update

  • Michigan – On Friday the governor signed into law HB 4934, requiring public schools to allow students to recite the pledge of allegiance with “under God” every day. Michigan was one of only 6 states without such a law.

New State Chapters

  • Massachusetts and California chapters officially launched!
  • We now have 5 operating chapters and one affiliate, with more states predicted to be ready to launch in 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!
  • By the end of this week every state will have held their initial organizing conference call!
  • Call Schedule:
    • Thursday, October 11th
      • Maine at 1pm ET
      • New Jersey at 2pm ET
      • Illinois at 2pm CT
      • Idaho at 2pm MT
    • Monday, October 15th
      • New Hampshire at 11am ET
      • Indiana at 3pm ET
      • Nebraska at 3pm CT
    • Tuesday October 16th 
      • New York at 1pm ET
      • North Carolina at 2pm ET
      • Tennessee at 2pm CT
      • Washington at 1pm PT
    • Wednesday October 17th 
      • Minnesota at Noon CT
      • Wyoming at Noon MT
      • Mississippi at 2pm CT
      • New Mexico at 2pm MT
    • Thursday October 18th
      • West Virginia at 1pm ET
      • Ohio at 1pm ET
      • Kansas at 2pm CT
      • Iowa at 3pm CT
  • 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.

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 76.  Our new endorsing organization is:
    • Freethought Society of the Midlands
IX. SCA Member Organization Announcements

  • Military Alliance of Atheists and Freethinkers: Remember Veterans Day is coming up soon. Few, if any, groups in the US have the respect and political clout of the military and veterans. We should focus on retaking that demographic to ensure organizations secular Americans are associated with service to the nation. Our member organization the Military Association of Atheists & Freethinkers is ready to partner with civilian groups who wish to do military outreach and has prepared the following short document with more ideas:
    Without our voice, organizations like the American Legion will decide what "Americanism" means: "Activists aim to distort and twist the core values of patriotism, morality and religion that gave birth to our nation, under God. They aim to kick God out of our public squares...The American Legion is dedicated to combating the secular cleansing of our American heritage."

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


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