Secular Coalition for America Makes History with Administration Briefing
Since our meeting, rightwing groups have been telling the media that ours is a “hate-filled” coalition, but the truth is that our message could not have been more compassionate and constructive. We used this historic opportunity to raise issues such as protecting children from religiously-based medical neglect, ending military proselytizing, and curtailing religious discrimination. SCA President Herb Silverman responded to some the far-right’s attacks in his Washington Post On Faith column, and outlined the secular movement’s struggle for justice on behalf of all Americans, even those with whom we disagree.
To get a better idea of the positive, inclusive agenda we brought to the administration, take a look at the formal testimony of our presenters:
- Liz Heywood, who as a child suffered terribly due to religiously-based medical neglect (Ms. Heywood was unable to attend due to weather, so her testimony was read by SCA Legislative Director Sasha Bartolf).
- Jason Torpy, President of the Military Association of Atheists & Freethinkers, and Kathleen Johnson, Vice President of American Atheists, addressed religious coercion and equality for nontheists in the US military.
- SCA Executive Director Sean Faircloth outlined the problems of religious discrimination and misuse of taxpayer funds in the Faith-Based Initiatives program.
The news media took note of the significance of the meeting, with coverage by ABC News, USA Today, the Washington Post, and the McClatchy News Service (appearing in the Miami Herald, the Denver Post, the Sacramento Bee and other large papers). All over the blogosphere, the event remains a topic of impassioned discussion. Over at the Christian Broadcasting Network, one rightwing pundit warned that the SCA and its allies are “influential” and “very effective.” We’re pretty sure he didn’t mean it as a compliment, but we agree just the same.
The Secular Coalition for America has big goals for the coming months and years. We’re executing a strategy that will see us expanding our base of issues, increasing our lobbying efforts, and generating new and innovative ways for secular Americans to connect, network, and get active throughout America. As Sean Faircloth said in his closing remarks to the administration:
“It is not our disbelief that brings us before you today. Rather it is our deep belief in the light of reason -- and our confidence that the light of reason and justice will lead us all to a better and more compassionate world.”