Thursday, May 26, 2011
Secular Coalition for America Biennial Summit Recap
I apologize for the lack of blog entries over the last couple of weeks but in exciting news, this past Thursday through Saturday I participated in the first ever Secular Coalition for America (SCA) Biennial Summit in Washington D.C. This event is indicative of the growing voice of secular Americans and I am proud to be able to say that I participated. The SCA is a national group that represents the interests of atheists, humanists, agnostics, freethinkers and other non-theistic Americans through lobbying efforts. While the focus of many lobbying groups is the introduction and passage of bills friendly to their cause, the SCA's lobbying efforts are not focused on this. Their effort is largely defensive in nature, as in combating the religious right's efforts to "Christianize" the United States. They have a long, arduous battle ahead of them and they need our assistance and support.
The SCA is comprised of ten member organizations (member organizations can be found here: http://www.secular.org/member_orgs) that focus on representing the interests of non-theistic Americans and the Biennial Summit was a way for the SCA to bring together representatives of the member organizations, in addition to random people like me, and come up with new ideas, strategies and plans for what the SCA has dubbed "Our Secular Decade" (more information here: http://www.secular.org/seculardecade). Among those present for the Summit were some of the more notable representatives of the secular movement to include David Silverman of American Atheists, Sean Faircloth and Herb Silverman of the SCA, guest speaker Susan Jacoby, the openly atheist Congressional candidate, Cecil Bothwell, David Niose of the American Humanist Association and numerous others.
For the second day of the summit, SCA Government Relations Manager Amanda Knief arranged for a lobbying day in which all those attending the Summit were to lobby their Congressional representatives, in both the House and Senate. In total, more than 40 Congressional offices, both Democrat and Republican, were lobbied. I lobbied my House Representative's staff (Rep. Moran, D) and the office of Senator Webb (D). This was a new experience for me and one I can confidently say is unique to living in the DC/Metro area. To be able to lobby Congress on behalf of millions of secular Americans is something that makes me proud and I have the SCA and the efforts of Amanda Knief to thank for allowing me that opportunity.
Sean Faircloth, the Executive Director of the SCA, gave an inspiring speech on Friday night, outlining the Secular Decade plan and I highly recommend and encourage you take a look at it from the link I provided above. I've seen Sean speak before but the energy he exuded and the passion apparent in his voice was different this time. It was motivating and encouraging. Part of the plan he discussed is to create state affiliates in all 50 states before the year 2020 and I think this is a manageable goal, as long as the SCA continues to receive support and secular Americans are motivated to participate. I suggest that anyone reading this blog, or visiting the SCA's website, who agrees with the mission of the SCA become a member of one of the organizations and support the cause!
Please visit the SCA's website at www.secular.org and see what they are all about. Also, if you have any questions about my experience please feel free to ask me in the comments section. Thanks!