This is a program I’ve been eagerly looking forward to ever since we began discussing it.
Last year, the Secular Student Alliance and the Secular Coalition for America began talking about getting non-religious students up on Capitol Hill. It was a service the SSA wanted to offer students and it was a key reason we were eager to help form the SCA in the first place several years ago.
Our thinking was: how amazing would it be to get our students positions as interns in Washington, D.C. over the summer? What if they could work with the Secular Coalition and lobby alongside them?
Could it lead to a generation of non-theists eager to get involved in politics? Perhaps even persuade them to run for office one day?
The Christian Right has been doing this for generations. Just read this 2004 New York Times piece about the fundamentalist Patrick Henry College:
Of the nearly 100 interns working in the White House this semester, 7 are from the roughly 240 students enrolled in the four-year-old Patrick Henry College, in Purcellville. An eighth intern works for the president’s re-election campaign. A former Patrick Henry intern now works on the paid staff of the president’s top political adviser, Karl Rove. Over the last four years, 22 conservative members of Congress have employed one or more Patrick Henry interns in their offices or on their campaigns, according to the school’s records.
We need to get our own people — rational, science-oriented, equal-rights-for-all-advocating people — working in D.C.
We’re finally ready to launch that program.
We want secular college students to apply for the Secular Coalition for America’s Capitol Hill Scholars Program.
While we can’t guarantee that you’ll land an internship on Capitol Hill, the Secular Coalition will work with you to get your resume and cover letter through the door to elected offices and do everything in our power to help you land a highly coveted internship on Capitol Hill.
Applicants who are accepted for internships will then officially become part of our Capitol Hill Scholars Program, where we will offer you fantastic learning and networking opportunities and the tools and skills you need to be a nontheist advocate on Capitol Hill.
We also hope to offer a stipend for students who are part of the Scholars Program based on financial need.
If I were still in college, I would be jumping at this opportunity. The chance to do something meaningful, the chance to advocate for issues I care about, the chance to make professional contacts? Hands down, this would be a fantastic way to spend my summer.
The SSA and the SCA will be developing this program over the next few years, but there’s no better time to get involved in Washington. It’s an exciting time to be an atheist for a variety of reasons, but the chance to get a seat at the table on Capitol Hill is one I never thought would come this soon.