Good Lord, here come the atheists.
Politically active nonbelievers are most known for making headlines for provocative billboards and side-of-the-bus advertising—the most recent, displayed in Boulder in January, said “God is an imaginary friend”—but they’re hoping to get more organized in an effort to stem what they see as overreaching religious influence in state and local laws. The Secular Coalition for America will begin an organizing campaign across the country next week to establish official lobbying organizations in every state, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico.
“Some of the most egregious violations of church state separation are being promoted and passed at the state level, and we absolutely must act to stop it,” said Edwina Rogers, the SCA’s Executive Director, in a press release. “There are 40 million Americans who don’t identify with any religion, but our political influence has been limited because we have not been organized. This year, that changes.”
According to the organization’s website, its core issues include removing the words “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance, revoking public funding of the Boy Scouts for alleged discrimination against atheists and eliminating “religious control” of sex education in schools, among other causes.
Meetings are being rolled out to a handful of states at a time, with Colorado among the first batch to see some organizing activity beginning on June 1. State chapters will have their own websites, training programs and educational material, but the main thrust will be to nip the zealots in the bud.
“In our current U.S. Congress, 38 percent of Representatives held local office first,” Rogers said. “When we get to lawmakers at the local level, not only are we going to help curb some of the most egregious legislation we’re seeing, but we are also building relationships and working to educate legislators on our issues, before they even get to Washington.”
While organizing groups of lobbyists in each state is a new tactic, the SCA is not a new organization. It’s been around for 10 years and already has chapters in Alabama and Arizona. Traditionally, its focus has been on preaching … er, make that advocating for, its goal of preserving a strong separation between church and state.