Secular Coalition for Colorado First Official State Chapter to Launch
Washington, D.C-The Secular Coalition for America is excited to announce the official launch of the Secular Coalition for Colorado, expected to officially launch on Saturday. The Secular Coalition for Colorado is the first chapter to launch as part of the SCA's greater effort to establish 50 new state chapters throughout the country this year.
The Secular Coalition for America is a lobbying organization representing nontheistic Americans and advocating protecting and strengthening the secular character of our government. The Secular Coalition for Colorado will lobby state lawmakers in favor of a strong separation of religion and government.
Secular Coalition for Colorado Executive Board Co-Chairs, Ben Donahue, 29 of Longmont, CO, and Murray Wallace, 31 of Longmont, CO are expected to sign the "Memo of Understanding" that marks the official launch of the chapter, on Saturday at the Colorado Secular Conference:
Date: Saturday, July 21st, 2012
Time: 11:00 am
Location: Colorado Mesa University Ballroom (2nd floor of University Center), Grand Junction, CO
Press: Welcome to attend the event-no registration necessary
"Secularism is one of the most important and fundamental necessities of any government, and for years I have watched that being continuously and persistently eroded both at the federal and state level," said Secular Coalition for Colorado Co-Chair, Ben Donahue. "Colorado is a keystone state when it comes to secular politics. It has long been a kind of Mecca for certain groups of Evangelical Christians such as Focus on the Family, with a history of attempting to insert their particular brand of theology into our politics."
A recent Pew Forum study indicated that 37 percent of Colorado residents do not express an absolute belief in God, and 59 percent disagreed that "religion is very important to their lives," both of which contributed to Colorado's rank as the 41st most religious state of 46 (some small states were grouped together for purposes of the study). Still Colorado has seen its share of attempts to insert religious theology into law, including numerous personhood ballot initiatives.
"Colorado, like many places, has a small but very vocal theocratic movement said Secular Coalition for Colorado Co-Chair, Murray Wallace. "To ensure freedom for everyone, it's imperative we do not allow religion to be imposed on our secular laws.
The most recent of these personhood amendments is being pushed by the Colorado Personhood Coalition for inclusion on the November ballot. The amendment seeks to define a fertilized egg as a "person." The proposed personhood amendment is based on religious dogma and has the ability to prevent people who don't agree-both believers and non-believers-from receiving health services such as common birth control, intrauterine devices (IUDs), the morning-after pill. Additionally, the amendment has the potential to criminalize abortion in the state and could render illegal some fertilization methods, such as in vitro procedures, which actually help families having trouble conceiving to do so
The chapter will likely take a stance on the so-called Religious Freedom Amendment, being pushed by Focus on the Family, for inclusion on the November ballot. The amendment seeks to protect a "person or religious organization's right to act or refusal to act in a manner motivated by a sincerely held religious belief", which is already protected in Article II, Section 4 of the Colorado Constitution. The bill instead is a thinly veiled attempt at creating exempting religious groups or people from following the law.
Donahue says the Secular Coalition for Colorado is important to protect the state from attempts to insert religion into government that could have a drastic impact on the state "within a generation.
"Groups like ours must be in place to ensure certain groups are not able to cross the line of separation between church and state," Donahue said. "I hope to be instrumental in battering down egregious legislation, informing the public to the inherent dangers of religious bills, and making sure that the voters of Colorado realize that regardless of their political affiliation or religious beliefs, the separation of religion and government is there to protect all of us."
Following the announcement of the Secular Coalition for America chapter, Secular Coalition for America Research and Advocacy Manager, Kelly Damerow, will give a speech titled, "Ignorance Becomes Intolerance: The Truth about Religious Liberty."
Since June, the SCA successfully held initial organizing calls for new chapters in 26 states. The remaining 24 states will hold initial organizing calls in August and September. The Secular Coalition plans to have all chapters up and running in every state, D.C. and Puerto Rico, by the end of the year.
Edwina Rogers, Secular Coalition for America Executive Director said she is excited to see the Colorado chapter launch. The state chapters play an integral role at the state level, as well as the national level, she said.
"In our current U.S. Congress, 38 percent of Representatives held local office first," said Rogers. "When we get to law makers at the local level, not only are we going to help curb some of the most egregious legislation we're seeing, but we are also building relationships and working to educate legislators on our issues, before they even get to Washington."
The Secular Coalition, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, represents 11 nontheistic member organizations and has as traditionally focused advocacy efforts on federal legislation. The SCA will continue to lobby at the federal level, while state chapters will lobby at the state level. Participation in the Secular Coalition for Colorado is open to all Coloradoans that support a strong separation of religion and government, regardless of their personal religious beliefs.
CONTACT: Lauren Anderson Youngblood, Communications Manager
O: 202-299-1091 ext. 205
E: [email protected]
For Bios, please visit: http://secular.org/states/chapters/colorado
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