Secular Coalition for DC Monthly Conference Call
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
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 secular.org 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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
Legislative RSS feed: http://www.dccouncil.washington.dc.us/pages/dc-council-rss-feeds
Bill searching: http://www.dccouncil.washington.dc.us/legislation/current
Full bill text and details
Committee hearings calendar
Automatic web publishing
Temporarily: Secular.org>States>Your State>DC
Conference Call dates, time, numbers
Call replays and Agendas
Sign up to receive alerts
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 secular.org
Mailing List/Forum to host discussions
Set up for each state
Will add leadership as admins
Can schedule events
Promotional resources- brochures, stickers, buttons, handouts
Informational resources - Research, fact sheets and policy papers
Trainings and Guides - media and lobby trainings and guides
Powerpoints -available at secular.org/resources
National Secular Calendar - secular.org 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
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
Research and Advocacy Manager, Secular Coalition for America
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 202-299-1091 ext. 204