The Secular Coalition for America is the Washington, D.C. lobbying group made up of several national freethought organizations:
- American Ethical Union
- American Atheists
- American Humanist Association
- Atheist Alliance International
- Camp Quest
- Freedom From Religion Foundation
- Institute for Humanist Studies
- Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers
- Secular Student Alliance
- Society for Humanistic Judaism
As of this past Sunday, we have a new member — one that had previously been a glaring absence from the list: The Council for Secular Humanism.
The decision to request membership in SCA was supported by the management of the Council and the Center for Inquiry, as well as a majority of the boards of directors for both organizations. Management expects the Council’s membership in SCA will provide significant assistance to the Council in fulfilling its mission to support and advance the interests of humanists and other nonreligious Americans. Joining the SCA will allow the Council to work effectively with other nontheistic organizations on shared goals.
It’s briefly alluded to above, but let’s get the obvious question out of the way. It’s a question that I suspect people familiar with the freethought movement might have (while the rest of you could care less): Why is the Council for Secular Humanism joining the SCA and not the (arguably better known) Center for Inquiry? This was a major point of discussion at the SCA meeting.
CFI’s president, Ron Lindsay, explains the reasons for the decision in their email press release:
We decided that the Council, rather than the Center for Inquiry (CFI) should join SCA. CFI is itself a coalition of sorts, supporting both humanists and skeptics as it works with its two affiliates, the Council and the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI). Not all supporters of CSI are nonreligious or interested in the public policy issues that especially concern the nonreligious. As SCA focuses almost exclusively on such issues, we concluded that the Council rather than CFI would be a better fit for membership.
In other words, CFI is the umbrella organization for CSH and CSI (got that straight?) and only CSH focuses specifically on non-theism. So it was the better fit.
CFI also has its own lobbying office in D.C., but the Office of Public Policy has a broader focus than SCA and our priorities tend to be difference. We’ll be working together wherever we can.
I was present at the meeting on Sunday, representing the Secular Student Alliance, and voted for the inclusion of CSH into the SCA’s membership. I’m thrilled they’re part of the group and I’m looking forward to working with their organization.