2007 Media Coverage


Washington Post

When Lori Lipman Brown, director of the Secular Coalition for America, which lobbies to keep religion out of government, and her husband were asked to be godparents of her nephews they accepted, seeing it as more of a caretaking responsibility than a religious obligation.

Manchester Evening News

Dec. 23, 2007 - How Would Jesus Vote? (David Ottewell's politics)

A 2004 poll by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found that 72 per cent of US citizens agreed with the statement "The president should have strong religious beliefs". Earlier this year the Secular Coalition [for] America offered $1,000 to the person able to identify the "nontheist" holding the highest public office in the country.

The Independent

Earlier this year, the Secular Coalition [for] America ... sought to unearth the highest ranking non-believer holding elective office in the US. The best it could come up with was a 75-year old San Francisco congressman called Pete Stark, a loose cannon on the Democratic far left.

Philadelphia Weekly

Last March Congressman Pete Stark from California came out as ... the first open atheist member of Congress. The Secular Coalition for America estimates there are at least 50 other congresspeople still in the closet.


"We're very saddened that people walk into the voting booth and do bring their prejudices, in terms of only voting for people who believe in God," said Lori Lipman Brown, head of the Secular Coalition for America, a Washington-based group campaigning for separation of church and state.
[Webmaster's note: Michael Shermer is quoted in this article as saying Ron Paul might be an acceptable candidate for an atheist voter. Since the writing of the article, Secular Coalition for America Lori Lipman Brown and others have spoken to Mr. Shermer regarding Ron Paul's position against separation of church and state. Mr. Shermer had not been aware of Paul's writings when he made the comment in this article.]

The Economist Magazine

Dec. 11, 2008 - Believe It or Not

...And yet those with no religious beliefs are shut out from political power. Earlier this year, a secularist group offered $1,000 to the highest-ranking politician in the land who would publicly proclaim no belief in God. [Webmaster's note: We responded with a letter clarifying that we did not pay Congressman Pete Stark to come out as the highest elected atheist official.]


Lori Lipman Brown, director of the Secular Coalition for America, spoke at the University Unitarian Church in Seattle on Saturday, Dec. 1 at an event co-sponsored by the Secular Jewish Circle of Puget Sound.


The Secular Coaltion for America, a lobbying organization for atheists and others concerned about preserving the separation of church and state, is taking aim at Mitt Romney on the eve of his Big Speech to address his Mormonism and to promote religion in general...

Salt Lake City Weekly (Utah)

Nov. 29, 2007 - Faith No More

"I thought it was going to be hard raising a kid without religion, because religion was what taught me about morality," [Julia] Sweeney said. "[But] being in a community is a completely effective way of teaching people how to behave. ...Now I think it must be hard to teach a kid with religion." Such sentiments are the sort that can turn public figures into targets of wrath by religious groups. Yet despite serving on the advisory board of the Secular Coalition for America and having a portion of Letting Go of God performed on National Public Radio's This American Life, she has remained largely, in her own words, "under the wire" as a spokesperson for humanist nonbelief.


In 2007, Richard Dawkins' scarlet "A" campaign is making coming out as a nontheist easier for so many people than it had been just a few years ago. I like to hope that the existence of the Secular Coalition for America has also helped...

The Nevada Sagebrush

Oct. 16, 2007 - Secular director visits

Nontheists are the only minority in the United States still looked down upon in society, said Lori Lipman Brown, the director of the Secular Coalition for America.


Lori Lipman Brown, the director of the Secular Coalition [for] America, believes it's a good idea to keep religion out of the workplace. "If someone applies for a job and the busiest time for the company is on the weekend but you have to take the Sabbath off, maybe you’ve applied for the wrong job," she says.

Boston Globe

A recent Gallup poll found fewer than half of respondents saying they would vote for a well-qualified atheist for office. More people were willing to support a woman, homosexual, Mormon, or a 72-year-old. Such findings are the reason that the Secular Coalition for America -- whose survey of politicians first revealed Stark's beliefs, and whose president flew from his home in South Carolina to attend the talk -- honored the requests of atheist politicians who wanted to keep their views private.

The Eloquent Atheist

Marilyn Westfall interviews Lori Lipman Brown for this new e-zine whose mission is "to expose people to the positive aspects of Atheism and Humanism through various types of the written arts, and at the same time give exposure via the Web to non-religious writers who may have a hard time finding an audience elsewhere."

Boston Globe

Sep. 16, 2007 - The Nonbelievers

Five years ago, to try to change the low opinion many Americans have of atheists (a national Gallup poll this year found more than half of those surveyed would not vote for an atheist for president), a group of four organizations started the Secular Coalition for America. Now, the coalition employs a full-time lobbyist in Washington, regularly issues press releases about everything from stem cell research to religious language used by politicians, and represents eight national organizations with more than 25,000 members ...


Representatives of atheist and humanist groups say the [five atheist-themed books to hit bestseller lists in the past two years] probably haven't converted many religious people. But, said Lori Lipman Brown, a lobbyist for the Secular Coalition for America, which represents eight atheist or humanist organizations, the books "tremendously increase the visibility of nontheist rights."

Worcester Telegram & Gazette News

For the first time in its 66-year history, the American Humanist Association has joined forces with a lobbying group — the Secular Coalition for America ...

Las Vegas Review-Journal

"I think, generally, we're having an easier time," said Lori Lipman Brown who, as director of the Secular Coalition for America, lobbies in Washington, D.C., on behalf of atheists, humanists and other nontheists. "People at least are acknowledging we deserve to have a place in society and can live beside us peacefully and with some degree of respect."

Las Vegas Review-Journal

[E]arlier this year, [Pete] Stark added another, slightly unusual, line to his resume: He's the only openly nontheistic member of Congress. In March, Stark, who represents California's 13th Congressional District, acknowledged his nontheistic beliefs in response to a query from the Secular Coalition for America, which lobbies on behalf of atheists, humanists and other nontheists.

Sydney Morning Herald

Pete Stark found himself in a unique and slightly uncomfortable position earlier this year. The longtime Democrat congressman for the Oakland district near San Francisco had responded to a survey from the Secular Coalition for America which offered a $1000 prize to the person who could identify the "highest-level atheist, agnostic, humanist or any other kind of 'nontheist' currently holding elected public office in the United States". To his surprise, that was him. Stark was the only one of 535 federal politicians prepared to admit he had no religion.

Weekly Surge

Aug. 9, 2007 - Losing our religion? New atheist movement fighting for rights in Palmetto State (article republished here with permission)

The Secular Coalition for America has even hired the first lobbyist in Washington to look out for the rights of non-theists. We hope the publicity will help change the culture - atheists and humanists may not get elected to high office today, but women and blacks wouldn't have gotten elected to high office 50 years ago. Herb Silverman, President, Secular Coalition for America

New York Times

Until Americans start voting based on issues rather than theologies of candidates, they will not elect representatives who truly share both their values and policy goals. Lori Lipman Brown, Director, Secular Coalition for America

BBC World Service

Jul. 21, 2007 - Heart and Soul

Do you have to be religious to get elected in the U.S.? Matthew Wells interviews Secular Coalition for America director Lori Lipman Brown about the influence of religion in the presidential election. (Audio file online.)

Chicago Tribune

A Harris Interactive survey in 2003 found that 9 percent of Americans don't believe in God, while another 12 percent are uncertain about the issue. Even if their numbers are lower, the Secular Coalition for America calculates that the ranks of non-believers are larger than the combined number of religious Jews, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Presbyterians, Hindus, Muslims and Eastern Orthodox Christians.

Nevada Today

As director of the Secular Coalition for America, former Las Vegan Lori Lipman Brown would like you to know that, actually, there are atheists in foxholes.


[Atheists] got a boost with the admission in March by the Californian Democrat congressman, Pete Stark, that he "does not believe in a supreme being", 127 years after Charles Bradlaugh became Britain's first openly atheist MP. America's first atheist congressman was flushed out by the Secular Coalition for America, the first godless group with a full-time Washington lobbyist.

Church & State / Americans United

The Secular Coalition, a lobbying office for non-religious Americans, sponsored a contest to find the highest-ranking public official who would identify as a non-theist. A Coalition press statement noted that only Stark and a few local officials would agree to do so.

Times Herald-Record Online

"Attempts to impose religious doctrine into civil law -- attacks on the character of our Constitution -- occur at all levels of government," said Lori Lipman Brown, director of the Secular Coalition for America.

Chicago Reader

Today [Hemant Mehta] represents the Secular Student Alliance in the lobbying group Secular Coalition for America, which was behind the recent survey that helped California congressman Fortney “Pete” Stark come out as the nation’s highest “nontheistic” elected official.

Associated Press

Mar. 30, 2007 - Atheists split over message (The New York Times)

Lori Lipman Brown, director of the Secular Coalition of America, sees a growing public acceptance of people who don't believe in God, pointing to California U.S. Rep. Pete Stark's statement this month that he doesn't believe in a supreme being. Stark is the first congressman to acknowledge being an atheist.

News & Record - Greensboro, NC

A group called the Secular Coalition for America set out to name the "highest-level atheist, agnostic, humanist or any other kind of non-theist currently holding elected public office in the United States," and they were delighted to find Stark; he may not be the highest elected official with such a worldview, but seems to be the highest to admit it.

Cincinnati Post

As a society we need to have conversations about right and wrong. But in this increasingly pluralistic country we also need to uphold the idea that morals are not the exclusive property of any one religion. More controversially, we need to welcome the idea that values are not the exclusive property of religion itself.

Campus Progress/Center for American Progress

Mar. 21, 2007 - Secular Confession

[T]he fact that only one member of Congress openly represents the nation’s humanists, agnostics, and atheists, is a sad reminder of America’s prejudice towards non-believers.


Since the survey results were released, Stark has been bombarded by letters, phone calls and e-mails, and almost all thanked him for making his position public. The response astounded the 75-year-old Stark, a dyed-in-the-wool liberal who's received plenty of nasty mail over the years. "The attention is amazing" he said. "I don't know what the guys who put out the press release did, but I'd like to hire their PR person to run my next campaign. I have been inundated (with responses) from literally all over the world."


My congregation is open to many different philosophies, so on Sunday morning I preach to theists, pantheists, atheists and agnositics. I have discovered that there is much more that unites them than divides them. What could unite theists and atheists? Values. The commitment to make the world a better place.

Oroville Mercury-Register

The 18-term Fremont Democrat's beliefs became public after the Secular Coalition for America offered a $1,000 prize to the person who nominated the highest-ranking public official who does not believe in God. Of the 47 nominees, Stark was one of four to acknowledge that he was a nontheist � a grouping that includes atheists, agnostics and other types of secular humanists.


Rep. Pete Stark of Fremont might have crossed what some are calling "one of the last frontiers" in politics when he delighted atheists this week by acknowledging that he does not believe in a supreme being.

Los Angeles Times

"I look forward to working with the Secular Coalition to stop the promotion of narrow religious beliefs in science, marriage contracts, the military and the provision of social services." - Rep. Pete Stark in an e-mail to The Los Angeles Times


"It is unfortunate in a society that is going down the path of godlessness and making right wrong and wrong right, that we continue down this path by celebrating one member of Congress who denies that God exists altogether," Concerned Women for America Director of Legislative Relations Mike Mears told Cybercast News Service.

Washington Post

The Secular Coalition for America, an association of eight atheist and humanist groups, held a contest in December to identify the highest elected "non-theist" in the land. Yesterday, it announced the winner: Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.).

New York Sun

"When the Secular Coalition asked me to complete a survey on my religious beliefs, I indicated I am a Unitarian who does not believe in a supreme being." - Rep. Pete Stark in an e-mail to The New York Sun

San Jose Mercury-News

Stark's beliefs garnered attention after the Secular Coalition for America offered a $1,000 prize to the person who could identify the "highest level atheist, agnostic, humanist or any other kind of nontheist currently holding elected public office in the United States."

Daily Kos

It is a long overdue move.

Friendly Atheist

I spoke with [Secular Coalition for America] lobbyist Lori Lipman Brown about how all the pieces came into place to make this event possible.


So today we learn that Rep. Pete Stark admits to being godless.


[Reposting of our press release by Secular Coalition advisory board member Richard Dawkins]

Shakespeare's Sister

Last week, I mentioned that the Secular Coalition for America would be announcing the first open 'non-theist' member of Congress in history today. And so they have: Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) is first Congressmember in history to acknowledge his nontheism.


[I]t's great to learn that Congress has exactly one representative with the 'nads to say he's an atheist.

The New Humanist.com

Resulting from an unusual contest sponsored by the Secular Coalition of America, Representative Stark's announcement is literally unprecedented: His public statement makes him the only openly declared unbeliever ever to occupy a seat in the House or Senate.

Irregular Times

In a bit of surprising news, the Secular Coalition for America has revealed that in just one week, it will unveil the name of the first open "non-theist" member of Congress in history.


"On Monday, March 12, the Secular Coalition for America, a national lobbying group representing Americans who do not hold a god-belief, will make history by announcing the name of the first open nontheist member of Congress. Folks this is HUGE -- I have no idea who this is (well, I have an IDEA), but s/he is a hero to me, and is going change the future."

The Labour Humanist

Speaking from [the British] side of the Atlantic it would also help if some Democrats demonstrated a bit more back bone and "outed" themselves as non-religious instead of pandering to anti-atheist prejudice. The Secular Coalition for America is about to announce the results in a contest to find the highest elected atheist/humanist/freethinker in the US.


Humanists and atheists gathered on the steps of the Supreme Court Wednesday, charging the Bush administration with overstepping its bounds by promoting grants to "faith-based" organizations ... The [Freedom From Religion Foundation], a partner of the Secular Coalition for America, claims that many of the [White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiative]'s activities propagated religion in violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.


Curious and open to Christianity, Hemant Mehta became the "eBay atheist" when he posted his soul on eBay and began accepting bids to visit churches and then share his thoughts ... [As Chair of the Secular Student Alliance h]e is a voting member of Secular Coalition for America, a Washington, D.C., organization lobbying for the rights of atheists and non-religious people. [Webmaster's note: Read to the end for a link to Outreach's Web exclusive of Chapter 1 from Hemant Mehta's new book, I Sold My Soul on e-Bay. Also see Friendly Atheist, Hemant's blog.]

Mother Jones

[Jonathan Stein:] "I guess I was so agog over the chutzpah [Republican presidential hopeful Chuck] Hagel has displayed in loudly and continuosly objecting to the war and the Bush Administration that I neglected to closely examine the man's record. Hagel's Planned Parenthood rating: 0%. Secular Coalition for America rating: 0%. Darfur Scoreboard grade: C. League of Conservation Voters rating: 14%. Human Rights Campaign (gay rights) rating: 0."

Charleston City Paper

Atheism is more popular today than it has been in many years, making the covers of major magazines and appearing on bestseller lists ... Herb Silverman, South Carolina's most outspoken atheist, organized a national organization, the Secular Coalition for America, [which] recently hired a Washington lobbyist to work on church-and-state and other issues of concern to secularists. [Webmaster's note: Also featured in this article are Coalition advisory board members Richard Dawkins and Wendy Kaminer.]


Lori Lipman Brown of the Secular Coalition for America spoke about political efforts to defend the rights of atheists, as well as the religious, in the U.S. (Lots of atheists were in the crowd, as you might imagine.)

Cybercast News Service

Lori Lipman Brown, director of the humanist lobbying group Secular Coalition for America, said she hoped pro-life lawmakers would not go so far as to want to protect what she described as "a cell."

Christian Science Monitor

[S]even organizations of nontheists - including atheists, freethinkers, humanists, and agnostics - began the Secular Coalition for America (SCA), a lobby seeking to increase the visibility and respectability of nontheistic viewpoints in the United States.


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