Secular Coalition for West Virginia Monthly Conference Call

Thursday, October 18, 2012 - 13:00 - 13:30
Call In Details: 
530-881-1400 code: 978895


Secular Coalition for America - West Virginia Chapter Conference Call
Call in number: 530-881-1400 Participant Code: 978895
Wendesday, October 18th at 1pm ET


Welcome Message

  • Who is here and who is not here that needs to be?
  • Agenda available at West Virginia chapter page at
  • Explanation of conference call style and recording
    • No one is required to speak up, but there will be opportunities to do so.
  • Thank you for joining us for the Secular Coalition for West Virginia monthly conference call!
  • The Secular Coalition for America is the only 501(c)(4) lobbying organization representing secular and nontheistic Americans.
  • Based in Washington DC, we are working to make sure that you are heard on Capitol Hill, on the 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 to bring together secular and nontheistic Americans in each state to lobby on secular issues.


State Government 

  • Capital city is Charleston
  • Governor Earl Ray Tomblin
    • Democrat, first elected in 2011 in special election after Joe Manchin won the U.S. Senate seat
    • Running for re-election against Bill Maloney (R)
  • West Virginia State Legislature
    • In 2012, the State Senate was in session from February 13 through March 9
    • West Virginia State Senate
      • 34 senators serving 4 year terms
      • 17 seats up for election in November
      • Controlled by the Democratic Party with a 28-6 marjoity
    • West Virginia House of Delegates
      • 100 members serving 2 year terms
      • All 60 seats up for election in November
      • Controlled by the Democratic Party with a 65-35 marjoity
  • U.S. Senate
    • The election will fill the Class 1 Senate seat, which is currently held by Joe Manchin (D). First elected in a special election in 2010, Manchin is running for re-election in 2012.
    • Political reports predict Manchin is likely to keep his seat against challenger John Raese (R)
  • U.S. House of Representatives
    • West Virginia's 3 seats in the U.S. house are up for election in November
    • Currently held by: David McKinley (R), Nick Rahall (D), and Shelley Moore Capito (R)



  • WV HB 2126 -Would exempt children receiving an exemption from compulsory school attendance, in favor of church school, from standardized testing requirements.
    WV HB 2564- Would designate the first Thursday in May the West Virginia Day of Prayer.
    WV HB 2662- Would exempt existing churches from paying tax on propane and other forms of heating oil.
  • Marriage amendment not on the ballot
  • 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
  • Any other issues we should know?

Chapter Model Overview

  • 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 Secular Coalition
    • Chapters are part of the Secular Coalition
      • 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
      • West Virginia Lobbying Rules:
        • LOBBYIST  any individual employed by a lobbying firm or who is otherwise employed or contracts for economic consideration, other than reimbursement for reasonable travel expenses, to influence legislation and government actions. 
        • EXCEPTION:  Persons who lobby without compensation or other consideration for acting as lobbyists, and, whose total expenditures in connection with such lobbying do not exceed $150.00 during any calendar year
  • Chapters are representatives of the Secular Coalition for America
    • 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.
    • As lobbyists we must be the diplomats of the secular movement, always act respectfully and professional
    • We believe secular values are American values, we are nonpartisan and want to work with everyone
  • Fundraising
    • Fundraising challenges prevent chapter growth
    • Secular Coalition will do all the fundraising and provide all resources the chapter needs
    • Donations will go to the Secular Coalition for the benefit of the state chapters
  • Official Chapter Recognition
    • Once your state chapter is organized, the executive committee and a representative of the Secular Coalition will sign a memo of understanding officially recognizing the Secular Coalition for California and giving the group access to our resources.
  • Leadership / 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
    • Interested? Email [email protected]
  • 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].
  • Database
    • Sign up to receive action alerts to be part of a grassroots campaign when particular issues arise. Sign up online here.
  • Secular Coalition’s Support for the Chapters
    • Conference Calls
      • Initial organizing calls focus on setting up the structure, identifying leadership, discussing how the legislature in California operates and the best ways to meet the needs of the Secular Coalition for California
      • 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
    •  CQ Statetrack
      • Full bill text and details
      • Committee hearings calendar
      • Customizable reports
      • Automatic web publishing
    • Website
      • Temporarily:>States>Your State>West Virginia
      • 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 West Virginia
    • Email Address for Chair/Co-Chairst
    • Gmail Group Mailing List for leadership to discuss which issues they should address and to coordinate action
    • Facebook Page
      • Set up for each state
      • Will add leadership as admin, 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

Wrap Up

  • What the Secular Coalition is doing until the next call:
    • Getting resources in place
    • Researching technologies to assist in chapter coordination
    • Outreach
    • Identifying leadership and putting Executive Committee interested individuals in contact with each other
  • What you can do:
    • Email [email protected] if interested in leadership or volunteering
    • Sign up on our website to receive info and updates
    • Check out West Virginia’s state chapters page for updates
    • Like the Facebook page
    • Spread the word about the next conference call!


Next Conference Call Date and Time

  • November 15th at 1pm ET
  • Third Thursday of the month
  • Same call in number and code


Contact Information

  • Kelly Damerow
  • Research and Advocacy Manager, Secular Coalition for America
  • Email: [email protected]g
  • Phone: 202-299-1091 ext. 204

Thank You!


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