The Secular Coalition for America’s Briefing with the Obama Administration February 25, 2010

The Secular Coalition for America’s Briefing with the Obama Administration

Occasionally, certain groups will get briefed by the White House on issues relating to their interests. This happens for environmental groups, health groups, and even religious groups.

But never an atheist group… until tomorrow.

Friday morning, surrounded by representatives from various national atheist organizations as part of the Secular Coalition for America, we will be meeting with White House officials about issues that matter to us.

Here is the official press release from the SCA (PDF).

Marking the first time in history a presidential administration has met for a policy briefing with the American nontheist community, on February 26 the Secular Coalition for America will engage with White House officials on issues of great concern to the secular movement.

Among the issues we plan to discuss are religious exemptions for parents who mistreat their children (i.e. kids with medical issues), military proselytization, and fixing Faith-Based Initiatives.

To any religious critics, we’re not looking for “special” treatment. All we ask for is fair treatment.

Dr. Ed Buckner, President of American Atheists, said “We are delighted that we will get the chance to speak to and to hear from the Obama administration at the briefing with the Secular Coalition for America tomorrow. We will not be seeking support for Atheism from the federal administration, because we know they must be neutral and because we are confident that our conclusions can compete and win in the marketplace of ideas, unaided by government. We seek an end to special rights for religious ideas and beliefs–in all regulations, laws, procedures, and pronouncements. The privileging of religiosity violates the First Amendment and good sense.”

I won’t be able to give a blow-by-blow account of what happens, but I hope that I can provide a summary of what we brought up while in the presence of key personnel in the Obama administration.

The goal is for them to take our stories and concerns to heart when setting their policies in the coming years.

It’s a wonderful opportunity, and it just shows the type of seat we now have at the political table.

This isn’t something that could have happened if we didn’t have national atheist organizations working together.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • This sounds like good news. I like the approach of not wanting special treatment, just fairness all-around.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    The way to “fix” the Faith-Based Initiatives is to eliminate them.

  • Matto the Hun

    Give ’em Hell Hemant!

    oh… we don’t believe in hell… dang.

  • This is brilliant news. I’m really looking forward to a summary afterwards.

  • What a great opportunity! I’m glad you get to be a part of it.

  • Bailey

    Awesome! I can’t wait to hear where this goes.

  • Very cool to see. Their ears are open, I know you’ll do us justice.

  • How exciting! Have fun. 🙂

  • Deb

    This is a wonderful opportunity Hemant! You will be a great representative of the atheist community.

  • mkb

    Go Sasha! This is the fruit of great staff work by the SCA’s Legislative Director, Sasha Bartolf.

  • This is great news! I just hope the religious right doesn’t spin it into more hate directed at Obama.

  • mkb

    Maria, think that you can count on that.

  • It’s a step in the right direction. It brings me joy to read this.

  • Delphine

    Oh man, if we can get something as simple as this through it will really make a world of difference.

    No longer will parents who try to “pray their kids well” get special treatment, etc.

    I just hope we’ll some day be able to take away religious organization’s tax exempt status.

  • Angie

    Great! Let us know how it goes!

  • TPO

    This is good news. Hopefully the Coalition will be able to convince the administration to act on the important issues you mentioned above.

  • Siamang

    I can’t wait for Glenn Beck’s rant about this! Or Limbaugh or all of them.

    Elizabeth Dole or whoever.

  • Stephanie

    Hey, that’s great! I’m sure you guys will do us all very proud. Good luck! I’ll see you on Monday by the way, if you’re coming to the kickoff meeting at DPU.

  • Good luck tomorrow! What an honor.

  • ckitching

    Religious advocacy groups meet with presidents and other government leaders all the time and people rarely even bat an eye. A secular advocacy group gets a meeting granted and feels the need to say that they’re not asking for special treatment. There is something very wrong here.

  • Richard Wade

    This isn’t something that could have happened if we didn’t have national atheist organizations working together.

    That’s true, and it’s also not something that would have ever happened under Bush, nor could it have happened if McCain and Palin had won.

    It’s also not likely to happen again when the next Republichristian administration finally returns to power, so we’d better make the most of our opportunity while we can.

  • I hope this has so called “real world results” and isn’t just appeasement.

  • muggle

    It’s about time we got represented. I’d be against it if it weren’t for all the religious groups getting such a private audience. Since they do, we deserve equal time, damnit!

    Hopefully, it won’t be surface only and he will listen. He does seem more open to the nonbelieving community. It’s sure as a hell a long cry from Bush Sr’s declaration that Atheists shouldn’t be considered citizens.

  • Ryan


  • Karen

    So cool! You’ll have represented us well, I’m confident. 🙂

    Thanks for all you do, and a belated happy birthday as well.

  • Richard Rhodes

    Nice organization and real winners that frequent this group. You want representation. No saying that religion has no place in government or in society is discrimination. You want your non religious views to be paramount over everyone else’s views. I wonder how many of you people are single parents or drug addicts or alcoholics. This country is going down because there are too many people without any religious convictions who think anything goes. You are truly a sad bunch of people.

  • Kuba

    @Richard Rhodes

    Religion has no place in government. We don’t live in a theocracy and our founding fathers created a secular constitution to avoid just that, a theocracy. They created a wall of separation of state and church to protect everyone’s individual rights, including religious ones.

    As for “non-believers” pushing our views on everyone else…well, that’s just false. All we ask for is equality and to stop the special treatment that the Christian cult receives.

    For some reason you believe that most atheists are drug addicts, alcoholics, and single parents and yet you missed all the statistics that show that atheists tend to be more moral than religious ppl almost across the board.

    85% of the population in the US is religious and you somehow come to the conclusion that the 2% that describe themselves as atheists are to blame for all of our society’s problems. You need a lesson in reasoning.

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