Secular Coalition for DC Monthly Conference Call

Tuesday, September 11, 2012 - 13:00 - 13:30
Call In Details: 
Phone Number: 530-881-1400 Participant Code: 978895

Secular Coalition for America DC Chapter

Initial Organizing Conference Call Agenda

Call-in number: (530) 881-1400      Participant Access Code: 978895

Tuesday, September 11th at 1:00 pm ET 

Welcome message

Who is here and not here that needs to be here?

Explanation of conference call style and recording

No one is required to speak up, but there will be opportunities to do so.

Agenda available at state page.

Thank you for joining us for this historic event. The inaugural Secular Coalition for DC monthly conference call!

Despite the fact that there are tens of millions of nontheistic Americans, we remain one of the most marginalized groups in the country. 

The Secular Coalition for America is the only 501(c)(4) representing secular and nontheistic Americans.

The Secular Coalition for America is working to make sure that we are heard on Capitol Hill. We fight in Washington DC against religious privileging on a federal level, yet some of the most egregious violations of separation of church and state are being promoted and passed at a state level.

The Secular Coalition for America is forming state chapters across the country.

Our chapters will bring together secular Americans in each state to lobby on secular issues.

DC Government

DC Council

The Washington, D.C. Council is the legislative branch of the Washington, D.C. government and is responsible for the laws in the nation's capital.

The council:

approves the District's annual budget, financial plan and sets the revenue required to fund the budget

oversees the programs and operations of government agencies

appoints members to boards and commissions and gives the final say on appointments made by the Mayor

 The council consists of 13 members; all of which can serve a term of four years.

Chairman: Vincent C. Gray

Chair Pro Tempore: Jack Evans

At-Large Members: David Catania, Phil Mendelson, Michael A. Brown, Kwame R. Brown

Ward Members: Jim Graham, Harry Thomas, Jr., Jack Evans, Tommy Wells, Mary M. Cheh, Yvette Alexander, Muriel Bowser, Marion Barry

Bill Procedure

Once a bill or proposed law is introduced, it is passed to the council's committee prior to a public hearing. Should the committee support the passage of the bill or proposed law then the bill is reviewed by the entire committee. Two separate meetings are held before the Council, as a whole, votes on the issue. If it passes, the bill becomes law, pending the review by the Mayor and the U.S. Congress.

Examples of previous or current laws, general practice, or religiously-inspired legislation seen in Washington, DC

The federally funded D.C. voucher program, the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, funds religious education with taxpayer funding. Traditionally, the D.C. vourcher program has only covered the cost of religious school tuition, which is generally cheaper than secular private schools. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, over 80 percent of all private school students attend religiously affiliated schools.

Bill 18-482- The Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act of 2009, "protects" ministers and churches from having to perform same-sex marriages. This was an unnecessary piece of legislation, as churches already had this right.

National issues sweeping the states

Reframing discrimination as "religious freedom" or "religious liberty"

Similar authorization of discrimination, this time by medical professionals with "Rights of Conscience" bills

Does anyone know any legislation or regulation in DC we should be watching?

Overview of the State Chapter Model

A Secular Coalition for America state chapter is unlike any other nontheistic state organization-it brings together interested organization and individuals for the exclusive purpose of lobbying.

Relationship to the SCA

Chapters are part of the SCA

Don't need to file any tax documentation

Covered under our C4 tax exemption

Have C4 Lobbying privileges to educate and lobby on ballot initiatives, legislation, regulations, meet with policymakers, etc.

Cannot "electioneer" - endorse or speak out against specific candidates

Same Mission- to increase the visibility of and respect for nontheistic viewpoints in the United States, and to protect and strengthen the secular character of our government as the best guarantee of freedom for all.

Similar Purpose - accomplish its mission through cooperation between local groups and coordinated state lobbying activities.

Chapters are representatives of the SCA

As lobbyists we must be the diplomats of the secular movement

Nonpartisan, respectful, diplomatic

We believe secular values are American values


Fundraising challenges prevent chapter growth

SCA will do all the fundraising and provide all resources the chapter needs

Donations will go to the SCA for the benefit of the state chapters

Official Chapter Recognition

Once your state chapter is organized, the executive committee and a representative of the SCA will sign a memo of understanding officially recognizing the Secular Coalition for DC and giving the group access to our resources.


Executive Committee

No set number of members or roles

Flexible to availability and strengths of individuals who want to get involved

Examples of Helpful Skills: leadership skills, familiarity with local groups, monitor legislation, conduct lobbying visits, mobilize grassroots, IT or website knowledge, social networking familiarity, comfortable speaking with press

Volunteer List

Those who do not wish to be on the Executive Committee, but still want to play an active role and help out once there is work to be done, please email me [email protected].


Sign up to receive action alerts to be part of a grassroots campaign when particular issues arise. Sign up online here.

Lobbying Rules for DC

Communicating directly with any official in the legislative or executive branch of the District of Columbia government with the purpose of influencing any legislative action or an administrative decision, and who receive compensation or expends $250.00 or more in any three consecutive months

SCA's Support for the Chapters

Conference Calls

Initial organizing calls

Focus on setting up the structure, identifying leadership, discussing how the legislature in DC operates and the best ways to meet the needs of the Secular Coalition for DC

After Official recognition

Future monthly calls will become a way to educate and inform: track legislation, coordinate lobbying efforts and coordinate secular organizations.

Agendas available online

Call replays available online

Bill Tracking

Legislative RSS feed:

Bill searching:

CQ Statetrack

Full bill text and details

Committee hearings calendar

Customizable reports

Automatic web publishing


Temporarily:>States>Your State>DC

Conference Call dates, time, numbers

Call replays and Agendas

Sign up to receive alerts subdomain

Uses our template, but you will be able to update information

Technical set-up work still needs to be done, hope to have up soon

Use of our logo and name Secular Coalition for DC

Email Address for Chair/Co-Chairs

Executive Committee Chair's name at

Mailing List/Forum to host discussions

Facebook Page

Set up for each state

Will add leadership as admins

Can schedule events

Future Resources

Promotional resources- brochures, stickers, buttons, handouts

Informational resources - Research, fact sheets and policy papers

Trainings and Guides - media and lobby trainings and guides

National Resources

Powerpoints -available at

National Secular Calendar - homepage

National Secular Update Weekly Conference Call

Thursdays at Noon 559-726-1300 Code 199568

What the SCA is doing until the next call:

Coordinating the lobbying needs of DC with best practices in organizational development and lobbying to create the best structure for DC

Identifying leadership

What you can do:

Contact us if interested in leadership

Sign up on our website to receive info and updates

Like the facebook page

Check out your state chapters page for updates

Spread the word about the next conference call!

Next Conference Call Date and Time

Tuesday, October 9th at 1pm ET

Second Tuesday of the Month at 1pm

Same call in number and code

My contact information

Kelly Damerow

Research and Advocacy Manager, Secular Coalition for America

Email: [email protected]

Phone: 202-299-1091 ext. 204

Thank You!



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