2011 Media Coverage
The Huffington Post
December 30, 2011 - The Last Veto
"Atheists are at the bottom," admitted Herb Silverman, President of the Secular Coalition of America, an umbrella association for nontheistic organizations, which acts as a pressure group in Washington, D.C. "Many Americans still think that if you don't believe in God, you will not have any moral standard. And they are wrong; the less religious countries, like the Scandinavian, are very ethical countries," said Mr. Silverman...."We are a relevant and growing minority," said Mr. Silverman. "And we have rights. After all, this is one of the last civil rights fights." Read more.
The Christian Post
December 3, 2011 - Study Explores Believers' Distrust of Atheists
"Interestingly, the Secular Coalition for America recently claimed there are 28 atheists in our nation's Congress, but said Calif. Rep. Pete Stark is the only one who has gone public with his nonbelief." This article also ran in Christian Today.
November 21, 2011 - Marriage Activists Ramp Up Spending
"...Baha’is, Buddhists, Hindus and Sikhs also have national offices, as well as secular or atheistic groups such as the American Humanist Association and Secular Coalition for America."
October 13, 2011 - PA governor's school voucher program raises church-state concerns
Discussing a Washington D.C. taxpayer-funded voucher program, the Secular Coalition for America, a group that aims “to protect and strengthen the secular character of our government as the best guarantee of freedom for all,” notes, under their issues tab in the category 'stop federal funding of religious schools,' “When private religious schools are privately funded, religious schools have an undisputed right to include religious content in their curriculum. But once taxpayer dollars enter the equation, it is impossible for the government to avoid favoring one religious program over another or over non-religious programming.”
The Secular Coalition for America's page continues, “One of the most dearly held principles of religious liberty is that government should not compel any citizen to furnish funds in support of a religion with which he or she disagrees, or even a religion with which he or she does agree.”
The Guardian (UK)
October 1, 2011 - Rising atheism in America puts 'religious right on the defensive'
Herb Silverman, president of the Washington-based SCA, lives in Charleston, South Carolina. His local secularist group was founded in 1994 with 10 people, but now has 150 members. "I've been living here in the buckle of the Bible belt since 1976 and things are getting a lot better," Silverman said.
Columbia City Paper
August 5, 2011 - The Prayer Before the Bomb
"I am also reminded of something Herb Silverman wrote recently. Silverman is South Carolina’s leading atheist, founder of Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry and the Secular Coalition for America. In a recent online column for the Washington Post, he noted that the Almighty seems to come to the aid of troubled politicians in this state."
WAMU 88.5 FM: The Kojo Nnamdi Show
July 28, 2011 - Atheism (Transcript available here)
"SCA's Amanda Knief, Roy Speckhardt of the American Humanist Association, and Edwin Kagin of American Atheists join NPR's Krista Tippet to discuss how atheists are working to raise their profile and create a better understanding about what they do--and don't--believe."
Religion News Service/Huffington Post
July 25, 2011 - Church-State Groups Slam Obama on Hiring Issue
"The person who questioned the president, Amanda Knief of the Secular Coalition for America, also criticized Obama's comment. 'Unfortunately, the president didn't address the most egregious aspect of this policy -- that religious discrimination is occurring on the taxpayer's dime,' she said."
July 25, 2011 - Obama Keeps Status Quo for Religious Hiring
"A Maryland town hall attendee who works for Secular Coalition for America asked Obama about statements he made as a candidate in 2008 when he said, 'If you get a federal grant, you can't use that grant money to proselytize to the people you help, and you can't discriminate against them - or against the people you hire - on the basis of their religion.'"
July 25, 2011 - Obama Affirms Faith-Based Hiring in Recent Speech
"During the meeting, a question came from an 'atheist,' who was an employee of the Secular Coalition of America, asking Obama if the order permits discriminatory hiring with taxpayer's money."
July 25, 2011 - Atheist Asks Obama Why Faith-Based Hiring Discrimination Still Exists
"At last week’s town hall meeting at the University of Maryland, President Obama was asked a question that he probably wasn’t expecting. Amanda Knief, Government Relations Manager for the Secular Coalition for America, demanded to know why Obama hasn’t rescinded the controversial executive order that allows some faith-based organizations that receive federal funding to discriminate against non-believers in their hiring practices. Obama, perhaps because he was caught off-guard, did not have a good answer."
July 22, 2011 - Atheist to Obama: Get Religion Out of Hiring
"Amanda Knief, a lobbyist for the Secular Coalition for America and a co-founder of Iowa Atheists and Freethinkers, complained to Mr. Obama that he has "not rescinded the (2002) executive order that permits this type of discrimination" at a town hall meeting at the University of Maryland in College Park."
July 22, 2011 - Obama Pressed on Faith-Based Hiring
"Amanda Knief, the questioner, issued a statement after the event saying the president dodged a key point of her question. 'Unfortunately, the president didn’t address the most egregious aspect of this policy – that religious discrimination is occurring on the taxpayer’s dime. Discrimination is wrong in all forms, especially when it is being funded by taxpayers,' she said."
July 22, 2011 - Obama Muffs Question on Faith-Based Religious Discrimination
"I'm an atheist," began Amanda Knief, Government Relations Manager for the Secular Coalition for America, directing a question to President Obama at his townhall today at the University of Maryland, about why he hasn't rescinded the Bush-era executive order permitting taxpayer-funded organizations to discriminate in hiring based on religion.
The New American
July 18, 2011 - Atheists Trying to Stop Texas Governor's Day of Prayer
"Earlier an atheist group called the Secular Coalition for America had demanded that elected officials shun the event, pointing to its Christian leanings."
Center for Responsive Politics
July 13, 2011 - God's Lobbyists: The Hidden Realm of Religious Influence
"Some groups view church lobbying disclosure exemptions as unfair, unnecessary or even unconstitutional. These exemptions "would shock Thomas Jefferson and James Madison," Sean Faircloth, the executive director of the Secular Coalition of America, told OpenSecrets Blog."
Christian Broadcasting Network
June 30, 2011 - Cuccinelli: Pastors Can Talk Politics in the Pulpit
"Atheist and secularist groups on the other hand feel this legal obstacle is fair and good. 'All groups that are tax-exempt and non-profit should have to abide by the same rules, and that would include churches and their employees, and refrain from politicking from the pulpit,' said Amanda Knief, government relations manager for the Secular Coalition for America."
June 27, 2011 - Keith Olbermann and the Anti-Gay Organized Religion Argument
"Even the comments of New York senator Mark Grisanti, praised by the Secular Coalition [for] America and others for his comments on Friday, point to that declining [religious] influence. 'As a Catholic, I was raised to believe that marriage is between a man and a woman,' Grisanti said. 'I’m not here, however, as a senator who is just Catholic.'"
Zanesville Times Recorder
June 21, 2011 - Barack Obama Pressed to Keep Zanesville Promise
"The Secular Coalition for America and the Coalition Against Religious Discrimination, among others, are asking Obama to sign an executive order to end an exemption they say allows religious organizations receiving federal contracts to discriminate in hiring on the basis of religion."
(Reprinted in Port Clinton News Herald, Coshocton Tribune, and The News-Messenger)
The Washington Post
June 16, 2011 - Atheists fed up? Believe it!
"The day before the Rapture (that did not come) at the Secular Coalition strategy meeting in D.C. I was sought out by a young woman. A month earlier, she had come out to her devoutly Christian family about being an atheist. The reaction was an outrage: Some disowned her. Others demanded she change her last name."
The New York Times
June 11, 2011 - Texas Governor Draws Criticism on Prayer Event
"Similar concerns were voiced by other Washington groups, including the Secular Coalition for America, which represents atheists, and the Interfaith Alliance, which said Mr. Perry was misusing religion for political purposes."
The Daily Texan
June 9, 2011 - Perry's Proclamation Draws National Attention, Incites Criticism from Non-Christians
"The American Family Association will cover the costs of the event, a move that has raised alarm from the Secular Coalition [for] America. Sean Faircloth, executive director of the Secular Coalition [for] America, said the civil rights firm Southern Poverty Law Center designated the American Family Association as a hate group in 2010."
June 8, 2011 - Texas Governor's Plan for Day of Prayer Meets Resistance
"The Secular Coalition asked other governors to reject Perry's invitation because the day of prayer excludes anyone who is not a Christian."
June 8, 2011 - Rick Perry's Controversial Call to Prayer
"Several groups, including the Interfaith Alliance and the Secular Coalition, have already expressed concern about the “Christians only” nature of the event, as well as Perry’s apparent official endorsement of a sectarian prayer gathering."
June 7, 2011 - Perry's Planned Prayer Event Riles Critics
"The Secular Coalition for America, the national lobby for secular and nontheistic Americans, has called on all elected officials to reject Perry's invitation, saying the event favors Christianity over other religions and beliefs."
NBC - San Antonio
June 7, 2011 - Perry's 'Call for Prayer' Brings Mixed Reactions
"Now, the Secular Coalition for America is sending its own letters to the governors. The group's officials say the prayer rally would marginalize millions of secular Texans, and are asking governors to keep church and state separate."
June 7, 2011 - Perry Invites Governors to Christian Rally
"That has led to pushback from several organizations, including the Secular Coalition for America, which represents nonreligious Americans. “Our nation’s governors represent Americans of all beliefs, not simply Christians," the group said in a statement."
June 7, 2011 - Will Tomblin Attend Perry's Prayer Rally?
"The Secular Coalition for America is urging governors to decline the invitation, with the group’s executive director calling the event an 'explicitly Christian platform for theocratic grandstanding that does nothing to offer substantive solutions to our country’s problems.'"
June 6, 2011 - Perry's Prayer
"Not everyone is thrilled, however. 'The last thing our officials should do in times of national struggle is promote a divisive religious event that proposes no real solutions to our country’s real-world problems,' says Sean Faircloth, executive director of the Secular Coalition for America. 'Our nation’s governors represent Americans of all beliefs, not simply Christians. We urge all elected officials to reject Gov. Perry’s invitation.'"
June 6, 2011 - Texas Governor Rick Perry to host prayer summit that calls upon Jesus to solve America’s problems
"The Secular Coalition for America strongly condemned the proposed prayer summit. The group, which represents atheists, agnostics and other nontheistic Americans, said the event privileges Christianity over other religions and is 'an insult to the millions of upstanding citizens who practice religions other than evangelical Christianity.'"
June 6, 2011 - Perry Puts Faith in Houston Meeting
"The Secular Coalition for America, Interfaith Alliance and the Texas Democratic Party all issued statements Monday criticizing the event for having too much of a Christian focus."
June 6, 2011 - Perry Invites Governors to Prayer Meeting
"The Secular Coalition for America issued a statement urging governors not to attend the event. 'The last thing our officials should do in times of national struggle is promote a divisive religious event that proposes no real solutions to our country's real-world problems," said Sean Faircloth, executive director of the lobbying organization for secular and nontheistic Americans."
*(Reprinted in Albany Times Union, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Boston Globe, Buffalo News, Charlotte Observer, Connecticut Post, Fox News, Houston Chronicle, Kansas City Star, Las Vegas Sun, Modesto Bee, MSNBC, New Jersey Star Ledger, Newsday, Omaha World-Herald, Raleigh News & Observer, San Jose Mercury News, Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, Seattle Post Intelligencer, Wichita Eagle, Worcester Telegram, and many others)
June 6, 2011 - To Pray or Not to Pray
"The Secular Coalition for America released a statement this morning calling on its supporters to 'to contact their governors and ask that they stand up for all Americans, regardless of religion or worldview, by rejecting [Texas Governor Rick] Perry’s invitation to this divisive, extremist-sponsored event and ask elected officials to work on solutions to substantive problems that face all Americans.'"
May 30, 2011 - Interview with Sean Faircloth
"This week we talk to Sean Faircloth, executive director of the Secular Coalition for America."
Christian Broadcasting Network
May 27, 2011 - Pastors Question IRS Over Preaching Politics
"[Amanda] Knief [of the Secular Coalition for America] argues that tax exempt status for ministries isn't a constitutional right. 'This is an issue of separation of church and state, not an issue necessarily of free speech,' she said. 'All organizations should have to abide by the same rules, and there shouldn't be any special privilege for a religious organization.'"
May 24, 2011 - This Meeting Did Not Open With a Prayer
"Last Friday morning, 70 godless Americans besieged Capitol Hill. It was Day Two of a three-day summit sponsored by the Secular Coalition for America, which lobbies on behalf of atheists, nontheists, humanists, secular Jews, and other nonbelievers. In all, the petitioners met with 42 lawmakers that morning—13 Republicans and 29 Democrats."
May 20, 2011 - Skeptics Organize Political Summit in D.C. on 'Rapture Day'
"The Secular Coalition for America is organizing a gathering on Saturday against what they call the 'theocratic agenda.' Over 100 atheists, agnostics, humanists and other nonbelievers will lobby lawmakers to strengthen their commitment to the Constitutional separation of church and state."
Center for Responsive Politics
May 19, 2011 - The Secular Lobby Visits Washington
"A group of secular activists are flocking to Capitol Hill this weekend, where they hope to meet with lawmakers and congressional staff to promote the causes of 'godless' Americans."
May 19, 2011 - Non-Theists Ignore May 21 Rapture, Plan Summit to Spread Secularism
"The Secular Coalition for America – made up of 10 non-theist groups including the American Atheists, American Humanist Association, and Secular Student Alliance – said more than 100 non-theistic activists will gather on Capitol Hill for its first-ever Biennial Strategic Summit. Beginning on Thursday and ending on May 21, the summit will bring together “America’s growing secular movement” to form strategies to advance public policies that promote the separation of church and state and other secular values."
May 19, 2011 - Rapture Fuels 'Godless' Group's Push
"As some Christians quit their jobs this week to prepare for the end of the world, the Secular Coalition for America headed to Capitol Hill with an ambitious task: reducing the influence of religious interests on government."
May 18, 2011 - Betting Against the Rapture, Godless Gather in D.C. to Lobby Against Religion
"Seizing upon forecasts by some Christian groups that the Rapture is set for Saturday, a coalition of atheists, agnostics, humanists, and others plan to gather (but not be gathered up) in Washington to lobby against what they call a theocratic agenda. Pretty much convinced that the end is certainly not nigh—at least not this weekend—the more than 100 nontheistic activists will start arriving in Washington on Thursday for what they’ve dubbed the first ever three-day strategic summit of the Secular Coalition for America at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill."
The Washington Post
May 18, 2011 - Susan Jacoby: Secular America: Growing Numbers With Too Little Political Clout
"The Secular Coalition for America will hold a “strategic summit” conference this weekend in Washington (I will be one of the featured speakers) and this seems an appropriate moment to ask why Americans with a secular orientation—whether they call themselves atheists, agnostics, freethinkers or simply refuse to join any church—do not possess political influence commensurate with their growing numbers."
May 13, 2011 - Obama's Religion Problem: White House Funnels Money to Discriminatory Religious Groups
Using federal dollars to hire applicants chosen according to discriminatory practices is "a blatant violation of fairness and religious liberty, and the president knows this," said Sean Faircloth, executive director of the Secular Coalition for America, also a CARD member. In addition, "If religious organizations wish to help their community with US taxpayer dollars, we believe it's only right that they be required to create a separate, non-religious entity for that purpose -- one that would be open to government oversight."
May 10, 2011 - A First: Member of Congress Formally Recognizes National Day of Reason
"For the first time since its establishment in 2003, a sitting member of Congress issued a formal proclamation last week in support of the 2011 National Day of Reason. Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) collaborated with the Secular Coalition for America on a proclamation that enters the National Day of Reason into the congressional record. Rep. Stark is currently the only openly nontheist member of Congress."
May 5, 2011 - On National Day of Prayer, It's National Day of Reason for Some
"Secular groups praised a proclamation Representative Pete Stark (D-CA) entered into the congressional record today recognizing May 5 as the National Day of Reason. The proclamation resulted from collaboration between Representative Stark and the Secular Coalition for America, the leading national lobby for secular Americans."
Christian Broadcasting Network
May 5, 2011 - People Around the Nation Join in 'Day of Prayer'
"Not all Americans believe it's proper for the government to call for a Day of Prayer. Amanda Knief, the government relations manager for the Secular Coalition for America, said it violates separation of church and state. "We do not believe the government should be in the business of telling people when or how to pray," she explained."
The Washington Post - Live Q&A
May 4, 2011 - Why Do Americans Still Hate Atheists? Herb Silverman Explains.
"Rarely denounced by the mainstream, this stunning anti-atheist discrimination is egged on by Christian conservatives who stridently - and uncivilly - declare that the lack of godly faith is detrimental to society, rendering nonbelievers intrinsically suspect and second-class citizens."
Ask An Atheist, KLAY AM 1180
April 25, 2011 - Interview with Sean Faircloth
"Sam, Mike and Becky talk politics and interview Sean Faircloth of the Secular Coalition for America."
The Chronicle of Philanthropy
April 15, 2011 - Makeup of Church Investigative Group Questioned
"The Secular Coalition for America complains that all 14 members of Mr. Busby’s group, which is known as the Commission on Accountability and Policy for Religious Organizations, are evangelical Christian leaders."
Worcester (MA) Telegram
April 15, 2011 - Atheist Says Separating Church, State is Hard Work
"It wasn’t that long ago that the Secular Coalition of America solely depended on volunteers to lobby on Capitol Hill on behalf of atheists, agnostics, humanists and others who believe in an ironclad separation between church and state affairs. Today, the organization has about half a dozen staffers and office space on K Street — Washington, D.C.’s 'lobbying row.'"
Religion News Service (Huffington Post, Belief.Net)
April 14, 2011 - Evangelicals Named to Ministry Watchdog Panel
"Secularists, however, say the panel’s all-evangelical leadership will be unable to police other evangelicals. [...] Sean Faircloth, executive director of the Secular Coalition for America, criticized the choices. "Stacking this so-called ‘independent’ commission with people representing only one narrow religious viewpoint is entirely inappropriate,” he said."
April 9, 2011 - "Ask An Atheist" Event at Pitt April 13
"Believers often have questions for atheists about what they think will happen after they die or what they believe the meaning of life is, said Catherine Laskovics, president of the Pitt chapter of the Secular Alliance. [...] Ms. Laskovics is a senior, with a major in philosophy and a minor in religious studies. She is contemplating law school or a degree in religious studies, but will spend the summer as an intern with the Secular Coalition for America, a lobbying group in Washington, DC."
March 23, 2011 - Reaffirming National Motto: Divisive Symbolism or Pressing Need?
"This week, a coalition of atheists, agnostics, humanists, and others -- who argue the resolution is unneeded, inappropriate, and not inclusive of the beliefs of all Americans -- has launched a campaign urging citizens to e-mail lawmakers about their opposition. As many as 2,100 e-mails already have been sent to lawmakers objecting to the resolution, say leaders of the Secular Coalition for America. “To me, as a former legislator myself, I was always skeptical of this kind of symbolic resolution,” said SCA Executive Director Sean Faircloth, who served for a decade in the Maine State Legislature, his last term as the Democratic majority whip."
March 20, 2011 - House to vote on 'In God We Trust' resolution
"The phrase ‘In God We Trust’ does not apply to the more than 16 percent of Americans who identify themselves as atheist, agnostic, nonreligious, or unaffiliated, and it does not apply to religious Americans who do not have Judeo-Christian beliefs," said Sean Faircloth, executive director of the Secular Coalition for America. "Branding our secular country with a religious motto only creates division among its citizens and erodes the wall of separation between church and state."
The Associated Press
March 19, 2011 - Move to reaffirm 'In God We Trust' as national motto advances in House
"The resolution, which now goes to the full House, was opposed by the Secular Coalition for America."
March 10, 2011 - Sean Faircloth: Constitution is Clear: U.S. Not a Christian Nation
"Exactly what language in the U.S. Constitution does Newt Gingrich think “means the power comes from God to each one of you personally”? Is it our Constitution’s complete lack of reference to any god or religious deity? Or its historically unprecedented preamble in which the authority for government is derived not from a higher power but from “We the People”?"
The Huffington Post
March 4, 2011 - Secular Coalition Asks Newt Gingrich to Respect America's Secular Heritage
"In light of Newt Gingrich's recent announcement about his presidential ambitions for 2012, the Secular Coalition for America is asking the former GOP Speaker to adjust some of his recent rhetoric in order to more accurately portray the secular American government envisioned by our Founders. The following is an open letter to Newt Gingrich."
The American Independent News Network
Feb. 8, 2011 - Kline sponsors bill to reaffirm 'In God We Trust'
"That resolution has sparked concern among separation of church and state watchdogs. The Secular Coalition for America (SCA) sent a letter to members of the House Judiciary Committee urging them to reject the bill because it’s unnecessary because the motto is already written in law and that it shuts out millions of Americans."
The Birmingham News
Feb. 2, 2011 - Non-theists start Secular Coalition for Alabama
"Alabama becomes the second state in the nation, following Arizona, to have a chapter affiliated with the Secular Coalition for America."
The Huntsville Times
Jan. 29, 2011 - Secular Coalition for America: Legislate for common good -- and mind your own business!
"The legislative agenda for the Secular Coalition for America can be summed up in one four-word phrase: 'Mind your own business,' said Sean Faircloth, the coalition's executive director."
The Huntsville Times
Jan. 28, 2011 - Non-theists organize Secular Coalition for Alabama
"Governor Robert Bentley's inauguration day remark that non-Christians are not his brothers and sisters is the latest example of why Alabama needs a state chapter of the Secular Coalition for America, local organizers say."
Jan. 3, 2011 - Atheists, Humanists Protest Inaugural Prayer Service
"Already several hours into Vincent Gray's first day as mayor, the Secular Coaltion for America is crying 'prayer without representation' over Gray's first inaugural event of today. The group is publicly protesting this morning's ecumenical prayer service for excluding atheists, humanists, agnostics and other non-theists in the event's program."
Become a Secular Activist