I’m back from my short vacation and started my first day with the Secular Coalition for America. The good news is that I got to visit family in New York, the bad news is that I wasn’t around when some of my coworkers scored an exclusive meeting with White House officials.
Last week they met with Paul Monteiro, the White House Associate Director of Public Engagement. One of his roles is to act as the ‘religious liaison,’ interacting with religious lobbying groups – and now the Secular Coalition as well.
From what they tell me, the meeting went very well. Mr. Monteiro is a Seventh-day Adventist himself, but was very friendly and made it clear that he welcomed us, and wanted to hear our point of view. He agreed to have regular meetings with us to make sure he knows about our concerns.
Of course, there’s still lots of progress to be made. But there have been positive steps. First President Obama went out of his way to include us in speeches, even in the national day of prayer proclaimation. Now his office is listening to us, too. It’s a signal that we’re a welcome part of the nation and the political process.
At the meeting, they discussed coercive religious proselytizing in the military, the faith-based initiatives, and employment discrimination. What else do you think we should address?
If you could tell an administration official what nontheists care about, what would you say?