Current Actions

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  • ACT NOW!!! House School Vouchers Program Amendment #13 to H.R.

    The House of Representatives is considering Amendment 13 to H.R. 5, sponsored by Rep. Cantor (VA) and Rep. Miller (CA), which is a veiled attempt at a school vouchers program, aimed at diverting federal funds away from public schools to private, often religious, schools.

    The Secular Coalition for America strongly opposes any attempt to funnel taxpayer money to religious schools. A bedrock constitutional principle in this country is the separation of church and state. The government should not use taxpayer money to furhter religious education, and no citizen should be forced by his or her government to fund a religion which he or she does not identifies with, or even a religion that he or she does identify with.

    Do not let your tax money be used to fund religious education.

    Let your voice be heard. Ask your Representative to vote NO on Amendment 13 to H.R. 5!

  • ACT NOW! Stop Federal Funding to Build Churches!

    Last Thursday, the most egregious disregard for the separation of church and state was introduced in the US Senate. Your taxpayer dollars will fund the building of houses of worship if Senate bill 1274 passes. Under this bill, churches, synagogues, and mosques, buildings that exist solely to provide religius services, can receive federal relief aid to rebuild their structures. 

    Every federally funded brick used to rebuild  houses of worship is a brick taken out of the wall of separation between church and state!

    Ask your Senator to vote NO on S.1274!

  • Tell Governor McCrory to Veto SB 353; Defend Women's Reproductive Rights in NC!

    Last week, the North Carolina State House passed SB 353. Titled the "Motorcycle Safetey Act", this law is actually an sneak attack on a women's right to make personal choices of conscience. Faced with a veto on anti-abortion legislation, the House inserted the same language into SB 353 in order to force their agenda through. This is a new low in the continued fight to restrict a woman's choice to make her own decisions, and without your help, they may succeed. 

    In October 2012, Governor McCrory promised to prevent any further restrictions on providing access to abortion. Unfortunately, he's given no indication that he will veto this egregious bill, and instead is expected to sign it into law.

    Write to Governor McCrory and hold him accountable for the promises that he made. Urge him to stand up to those that attempt to impose their morals on North Carolina and that you have the right to make your own personal choices of conscience. Call his office at (919) 814-2000 and 1-800-662-7952 to make your voice heard.

    Tell him to veto the bill NOW, not only to keep his promise to the people of North Carolina, but to preserve your right to personal choices of conscience.

  • Action Alert: Urge Your State Senator to Vote “No” on SB 202, Defend Reproductive Rights in Wisconsin!

     

    The Wisconsin State Legislature’s attack on family choice has hit a fever pitch. In June, the legislature passed ACT 37, a bill that would require ultrasounds for women seeking abortions and mandated abortion doctors have admitting privileges to hospitals, which would close at least two of the clinics left in the state. A federal judge has issued a temporary stay in its implementation, but that’s done nothing to stop them.


    Now they’re at it again. The State Senate is currently considering SB 202 which would deny women access to contraceptives through her health insurance if her employer cites religious exemptions, as well as prohibit county and local plans from providing abortion coverage. The House version--AB 216--has already passed.


    We need your help to stop this assault on personal rights of conscience now -- you have a right to make your own moral decisions. Don’t let others’ religious beliefs infringe on your rights.


    Tell your state senator to vote no NOW and preserve your rights of conscience.

  • Tell the Governor to Veto the Choose Life License Plate Legislaton

     Last week, in the rushed, final days of the legislative session, the RI General Assembly passed a bill that will authorize a "Choose Life" license plate. Proceeds from the sales of the license plates would fund CareNet, an evangelical Christian "crisis pregnancy center". CareNet states that their purpose is "to share the love and truth of Jesus Christ in both word and deed" and that their 

    "pregnancy centers are committed to sharing the love of Jesus Christ with every person who walks through their doors." 

    These license plates would create unnecessary and disturbing entanglement of government and religion right here in Rhode Island, where 350 years ago Roger Williams began his "lively experiment" in religious liberty and separation of church and state. 

    This is URGENT. Once this bill hits the Governor's desk he will only have 6 days to sign, veto or allow it to pass into law without his signature. Governor Chafee has already expressed concern about this bill, but is receiving pressure from religious groups to sign it. Please contact Governor Chafee today to urge him to do the right thing and veto this bill. 
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  • TAKE ACTION: Thank Your Rep. for Voting YES on Nontheistic Military Chaplains

    Today, more than 150 members of Congress voted in favor of nontheistic military chaplains that would serve the 23 percent of the military who are “nones”. While we are extremely disappointed the amendments failed, we were heartened to see the show of support today's amendment received from a full third of the U.S. House of Representatives.

    The Secular Coalition for America is thankful to all of the representatives who supported the amendment and would like to give a special thanks to Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) who sponsored today’s amendment on the House floor and Congressman Robert Andrews (D-NJ) who sponsored a similar amendment last week in the House Armed Services Committee.

    We hope you will join us in showing our gratitude to those representatives who stood up for the secular and nontheistic community. We urge you to contact your representative now and let them know that how they voted matters to you. Entering your zip code below will automatically generate either a thank you letter if your Congress person voted “aye” or a letter expressing disappointment if you Congress person voted “no.”

    Additionally, even if they are not your personal representatives, we encourage you send a note of thanks to Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO)  and Rep. Andrews (D-NJ) for their outspoken support of our community on these issues.

    You can view the full list of final vote results here.

  • SPEAK UP NOW: Nontheistic Military Members Get A Second Chance!

    We just learned that an amendment crucial to our nontheistic service men and women is getting a second chance. We need your help once more!

    Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on an amendment that would allow nontheistic chaplains in the in the Chaplain Corps of the Armed Forces. The amendment to H.R. 1960—which would fund the military for fiscal year 2014—is crucial to the roughly 23 percent of men and women in the armed services who are religiously unaffiliated “nones” or atheists.  

    Although it fell short of the votes needed to pass the House Armed Services Committee, your overwhelming response was heard throughout Congress' halls. With more co-sponsors and more support, the amendment will be introduced once more, this time for consideration by the full House. 

    Why are chaplains so important to nontheistic service members? Why don’t they just talk to a psychiatrist or counselor? The answers may surprise you:

    • Military psychiatrists and counselors are an inadequate substitution for chaplains because information discussed in sessions with a counselor or a psychiatrist can be shared with military personnel and possibly harm a service member’s future military career.
    • The chaplain-patient relationship enjoys more confidentiality then the psychiatrist or counselor relationship does.
    • Studies indicate that service men and women fail to seek the needed help from psychiatrists and counselors because of the stigma that doing so makes them weak.

    Our nontheistic service members sacrifice for all of us daily—now they need you to sacrifice just a minute of your time to write your representative and urge them to support this amendment.

    The vote is THURSDAY morning– write your representative NOW!

  • YOUR Congressman Stood Up for Atheists!

    Wednesday evening an amendment that would have benefitted the men and women of our military who are either atheist or non-religious was voted down in the House Armed Services Committee. Offered by Congressman Andrews (D-NJ), the amendment would have provided atheist and non-religious service members, a group that makes up roughly 23% of the military, the ability to have access to atheist and non-religious chaplains.

    Your Represenatative was one of 18 members of the committee to vote in favor of the amendment. They did so in the face of ignorant statements like "atheists don't believe anything" or suggesting an atheist or humanist chaplain would tell a grieving family their son is "worm food."
    We ask you to email your Congressman or Congresswoman and thank them for standing up and supporting atheists, humanists, and religiously unaffiliated servicemembers!

  • TAKE ACTION: Tell Congress to Support Military Chaplains for Service Members NOW

    An amendment crucial to our nontheistic service men and women will be voted on tomorrow and we need your help.

    Tomorrow, members of the House Armed Services Committee will vote on an amendment that would allow nontheistic chaplains in the in the Chaplain Corps of the Armed Forces.

    The amendment to H.R. 1960—which would fund the military for fiscal year 2014—is crucial to the roughly 23 percent of men and women in the armed services who are religiously unaffiliated “nones” or atheists. The official amendment language has not yet been made available, but is expected to be voted on tomorrow.

    Why are chaplains so important to nontheistic service members? Why don’t they just talk to a psychiatrist or counselor? The answers may surprise you:

    ·         Military psychiatrists and counselors are an inadequate substitution for chaplains because information discussed in sessions with a counselor or a psychiatrist can be shared with military personnel and possibly harm a service member’s future military career.

    ·          The chaplain-patient relationship enjoys more confidentiality then the psychiatrist or counselor relationship does.

    ·         Studies indicate that service men and women fail to seek the needed help from psychiatrists and counselors because of the stigma that doing so makes them weak.

    Our nontheistic service members sacrifice for all of us daily—now they need you to sacrifice just a minute of your time to write your representative and tell them to vote YES on the amendment to allow nontheistic military chaplains.

    The vote is TOMORROW – write your representative NOW!

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  • Thank Senator Harkin for Speaking to Secular Americans

    Even if you couldn't make it to this year's Lobby Day, you can watch the video of Senator Tom Harkin personally addressing the attendees of our 2013 Secular Summit and Lobby Day! Let Senator Harkin know how much we appreciate him taking the time to speak to secular Americans!

    Voice your appreciation! Enter your zipcode to send him an email, or call his DC office at 202-224-3254

  • Thank Rep. Nadler for Speaking to Secular Americans

    Congressman Jarrold Nadler, representing New York's 10th District, is opening our 2013 Secular Summit and Lobby Day!

    As former Chair and current ranking member of the US House of Representative Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil rights, he's the expert on faith-based funding and the strongest line of defense in the House against legislation that violates the Establishment Clause. Let him know how much you appreciate him speaking to Secular Americans!

    Voice your appreciation! Enter your zipcode to send him an email, or call his DC office at 202-225-5635

  • Urge Your Representative to Vote YES on Senate Version of VAWA

    Today the U.S. House will vote on the Violence Against Women Act and we need your help.  Join us now in urging your representative to vote “YES” on the Senate version of the bill and “NO” on the House substitute amendment that would allow for federally-funded employment discrimination.

    The difference between the Senate and House versions is small, but important. In fact, the problem with the House version is what’s NOT included. On page 18 of the House version (lines 10-16), the phrase "be denied the benefits of" has been removed. That small phrase has been interpreted to apply to both people who benefit from the grant and people who are employed by the organization that receives the grant. Removing the language would allow religious groups that discriminate in hiring to receive grants.

    The 1964 Civil Rights Act allowed churches and other religious organizations that used their own funds to discriminate on the basis of religion when hiring employees. However, the substitute amendment will allow these groups to receive federal funds while continuing that discrimination. Additionally, adoption of the substitute amendment will send the bill back to the Senate and lead to a lengthy conference on the bill, further delaying reauthorization of this important bill.

    The Violence Against Women Act has been an essential part of our nation’s effort to end domestic violence. However, reauthorization of this Act should not be used as an excuse to support discrimination in the workplace.

    Contact your representative now and tell them to vote YES on the Senate version of the Violence Against Women Act!

    [PLEASE NOTE: Some users may need their 4-digit zip code suffix to complete the form. Click here to get your full zip code]

  • Today! Tell Your Senators To Say NO to School Vouchers!

    As you read this, the Senate is considering an amendment to the 2014 Budget Resolution which would create a federal private school voucher program. Voting on the budget could occur today. Please contact your Senator to voice your opposition to any amendment to the Fiscal 2014 Senate Budget Resolution (S. Con Res. 8) that creates a private school voucher program. 

    This program would allow taxpayer money to directly fund the indoctrination of children with religious teaching. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, over 80 percent of all private school students attend religiously affiliated schools.  The majority of students who use vouchers will use them to fund their education at one of these religious institutions, which seek to promote specific religious traditions and beliefs.

    While parents certainly may choose a religious education for their children, no taxpayer should be forced to furnish funds in support of a religion with which he or she disagrees. 

    Tell your senator, school vouchers violate a central tenet of our secular government by using taxpayer money to fund religious education. Oppose any school voucher amendment to the 2014 Senate Budget Resolution

  • Urge Your Representative to Vote YES on Senate Version of VAWA

    Today the U.S. House will vote on the Violence Against Women Act and we need your help.  Join us now in urging your representative to vote “YES” on the Senate version of the bill and “NO” on the House substitute amendment that would allow for federally-funded employment discrimination.

    The difference between the Senate and House versions is small, but important. In fact, the problem with the House version is what’s NOT included. On page 18 of the House version (lines 10-16), the phrase "be denied the benefits of" has been removed. That small phrase has been interpreted to apply to both people who benefit from the grant and people who are employed by the organization that receives the grant. Removing the language would allow religious groups that discriminate in hiring to receive grants.

    The 1964 Civil Rights Act allowed churches and other religious organizations that used their own funds to discriminate on the basis of religion when hiring employees. However, the substitute amendment will allow these groups to receive federal funds while continuing that discrimination. Additionally, adoption of the substitute amendment will send the bill back to the Senate and lead to a lengthy conference on the bill, further delaying reauthorization of this important bill.

    The Violence Against Women Act has been an essential part of our nation’s effort to end domestic violence. However, reauthorization of this Act should not be used as an excuse to support discrimination in the workplace.

    Contact your representative now and tell them to vote YES on the Senate version of the Violence Against Women Act!

    [PLEASE NOTE: Some users may need their 4-digit zip code suffix to complete the form. Click here to get your full zip code]

  • Don't Let Congress Use Tax Money to Build Churches

    February 12, 2013—Tomorrow Congress is quietly attempting to sneak through a bill that would allow federal grant money to go directly to the brick and mortar rebuilding of churches and other houses of worship.

    Despite its unconstitutionality, lawmakers tomorrow will consider HR 592—a bill to amend the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, to allow houses of worship to directly receive taxpayer dollars.

    There’s a reason houses of worship are prohibited. This bill would reverse years of Supreme Court precedent and directly conflict with the First Amendment to the Constitution. Additionally, permitting public grants for churches and other houses of worship would unfairly privilege religious institutions above secular institutions, many of which are not eligible for the grants.

    This bill comes two weeks after churches were granted special exemptions from a law requiring coverage of contraceptive services.  Churches are attempting to have their cake and eat it too. They want to choose when they must comply with a law and when laws must comply with them.

    Passage of the bill would create unfair advantages for religious institutions—and in effect, a government endorsement of religion—because these institutions are exempt from paying taxes, offering financial transparency and filing the same paperwork as secular organizations, but would still benefit from public tax dollars

    Tell Congress, not so fast! Will you send a letter to your Representative urging him or her to vote no on this bill right now?

    Tell your Representative to vote “no” on HR 592.

    [PLEASE NOTE: Some users may need their 4-digit zip code suffix to complete the form. Click here to get your full zip code]

  • Vote No on the Defense Authorization Bill

    The U.S. House and Senate are expected to vote on a version of the National Defense Authorization Act that would allow service members to discriminate against other service members based on religion. Furthermore, this discrimination will be protected under the guise of “religious liberty.” 

    Our service members make enormous sacrifices for our country and deserve to be treated with respect while serving, regardless of their personal religious beliefs or sexual orientation. Urge your representatives and senators to vote no on this bill.

  • TAKE ACTION: Urge PA House to Vote No on Prayer Month

    The PA State Legislature is poised RIGHT NOW to use the non-controversial resolution system (Rule 35 in the House of Representatives) to pass another bill that further erodes the wall of separation between church and state.  HR 922 declares October 2012 as "Prayer Month" in Pennsylvania.

    Prayer is a strictly religious activity.  The legislature should not be using their valuable time to promote it - That should be left up to the dictates of an individual's conscience.  On the heels of the “Year of the Bible” in Pennsylvania, this is a clear attempt to continue to promote religion using our state government.

    Please, join us in telling your state representative to vote “No” on HR 922.  This is URGENT - This bill is on today's calendar in the PA State House of Representatives, and could be addressed today or tomorrow.  Join us in urging your representative to do the right thing and leaving the choice to pray or not up to the individual voter.

  • The State of Secular America

    Encourage your U.S. Representative to attend a briefing on Monday October 1, 2012 at 10:30 am. The briefing titled, “The State of Secular America,” aims to educate lawmakers and their staffs on secular and nontheistic Americans and our issues.

    Despite the prevalence of religion in modern-day politics, today nearly one in five Americans are “nones”, those who do not identify with any religious affiliation. This number has reached the highest percentage ever recorded and includes many nontheist Americans who don’t express a belief in God. Atheists and agnostics outnumber many religious traditions in our country, including Jews, Muslims, Episcopalians, Mormons and many other religions and religious sects. Furthermore, the percentage of “nones” is now equal to the number of mainline Protestants in our country.

    Secular Americans are a large demographic—but unfortunately a group that is often forgotten or ignored by those elected to represent us.

    Please urge your U.S. Representative's office to attend a briefing on The State of Secular America. The briefing will address why the number of “nones” is growing so rapidly, and more importantly, what role your Representative plays in making certain our First Amendment freedoms are protected as we grow.

  • TAKE ACTION: Tell Your State Senators to Oppose Religious Discrimination in Counseling

    Many people go to a therapist for advice on any range of emotional or psychological issues. But if passed, a new law in Michigan could subject patients to further emotional distress—this time in the form of religious bigotry—coming from the very people that patients are turning to for help: the counselors.

    The Michigan House of Representatives recently approved House Bill 5040, also known as the “Julea Ward Freedom of Conscience Act.” If passed, the bill would protect therapists who discriminate against everyone from nontheists to members of the LGBT community. H.B. 5040 would prevent colleges and universities from taking any disciplinary action against counseling students who discriminate against patients, as long as that discrimination is based on “sincerely held religious belief.”

    The law was conceived after a gay student at Eastern Michigan University was discriminated against by fellow student Julea Ward. Ward served as a graduate counselor in the university's counseling program. She was terminated from her position after she refused a patient whose file indicated a past gay relationship, a relationship Ward morally opposed as an evangelical Christian. She took her case to court and lost. That’s when lawmakers got involved.  And incredibly, proponents of the bill are claiming Ward was the one discriminated against. The bill is headed to the Michigan Senate to be voted on in the near future.

    Students like Ward are subject to The Code of Ethics of the American Counseling Association and the Ethical Standards of the American School Counselor Association. As outlined by these guidelines, counselors may not allow their personal values to encroach upon their professional work. The role of the therapist is not necessarily to “affirm” the client’s beliefs, it is to offer support and guidance, even to clients whose practices a counselor may find distasteful. Ward violated these accepted standards, and her school was correct to relieve her of her position.

    A brief filed by the ACLU in response to Ward’s case affirmed that the standards of the profession rightly put the needs of clients ahead of the personal moral views of counselors. In a high school setting, for instance, a counselor may be the one adult who gay, lesbian, or transgender students can look to for help. If students were to be turned away simply because of their sexual past or sexual orientation, the consequences could be devastating.

    This bill clearly ignores the standards of the counseling profession, and furthermore, it protects religious discrimination inflicted by the very people who are supposed to be there to help vulnerable patients.

    We need your help. Will you send a letter to your state senator urging them to vote this discriminatory bill down?

  • TAKE ACTION: Tell Your State Senators to Oppose Religious Discrimination in Counseling

    Many people go to a therapist for advice on any range of emotional or psychological issues. But if passed, a new law in Michigan could subject patients to further emotional distress—this time in the form of religious bigotry—coming from the very people that patients are turning to for help: the counselors.

    The Michigan House of Representatives recently approved House Bill 5040, also known as the “Julea Ward Freedom of Conscience Act.” If passed, the bill would protect therapists who discriminate against everyone from nontheists to members of the LGBT community. H.B. 5040 would prevent colleges and universities from taking any disciplinary action against counseling students who discriminate against patients, as long as that discrimination is based on “sincerely held religious belief.”

    The law was conceived after a gay student at Eastern Michigan University was discriminated against by fellow student Julea Ward. Ward served as a graduate counselor in the university's counseling program. She was terminated from her position after she refused a patient whose file indicated a past gay relationship, a relationship Ward morally opposed as an evangelical Christian. She took her case to court and lost. That’s when lawmakers got involved.  And incredibly, proponents of the bill are claiming Ward was the one discriminated against. The bill is headed to the Michigan Senate to be voted on in the near future.

    Students like Ward are subject to The Code of Ethics of the American Counseling Association and the Ethical Standards of the American School Counselor Association. As outlined by these guidelines, counselors may not allow their personal values to encroach upon their professional work. The role of the therapist is not necessarily to “affirm” the client’s beliefs, it is to offer support and guidance, even to clients whose practices a counselor may find distasteful. Ward violated these accepted standards, and her school was correct to relieve her of her position.

    A brief filed by the ACLU in response to Ward’s case affirmed that the standards of the profession rightly put the needs of clients ahead of the personal moral views of counselors. In a high school setting, for instance, a counselor may be the one adult who gay, lesbian, or transgender students can look to for help. If students were to be turned away simply because of their sexual past or sexual orientation, the consequences could be devastating.

    This bill clearly ignores the standards of the counseling profession, and furthermore, it protects religious discrimination inflicted by the very people who are supposed to be there to help vulnerable patients.

    We need your help. Will you send a letter to your state senator urging them to vote this discriminatory bill down?

  • Tell the House to Reject Amendments Allowing Religious Discrimination

    Two amendments that allow religious discrimination in our military were made to the National Defense Authorization Act during the House Armed Services Committee hearing on May 8, 2012. We must ensure that these amendments are removed from the NDAA before final passage.

    The amendments, offered by Representatives Akin and Palazzo, allow chaplains and members of the Armed Forces to discriminate against LGBT service members without repercussion and ban the use of military bases to perform marriage or commitment ceremonies for gay and lesbian members of the Armed Forces.

    Chaplains in our nation's military already have the ability to refuse to perform ceremonies or rites that conflict with their religious faith. These amendments, however, allow military personnel to speak out against religiously defined "inappropriate expression(s) of human sexuality" without fear of reprisal. Such harassment of LGBT servicemen and women has no place in our military.

    Akin and Palazzo claim that his language was added to the NDAA as a "necessary protection of religious liberty." In a statement released by his office, Akin said that this language would protect servicemembers who "are facing recrimination for their sincerely held moral and religious beliefs." Opponents of this exception have called it a "license to bully" because it allows service members to express anti-gay and homophobic views regardless of their impact on the members of their unit as long as they use a religious justification.

    Please tell your Representative that discrimination based on religious belief has no place in our nation's military and urge them to vote to remove these dangerous amendments before final passage of the National Defense Authorization Act.

  • Tell HHS to Stop Funding Abstinence-Only Education Programs

    In April, the Department of Health and Human Services added Heritage Keepers Abstinence Education, an abstinence-only education program, to its list of evidence-based pregnancy prevention programs that receive government funding. This decision was based upon unpublished, unreliable, and biased research conducted at Brigham Young University.

    Studies typically go unpublished because critical review would shine light on bias or skewed data. This study did not include the conflicts of interest disclosure required by most journals to publish research. This is likely because there is a clear conflict of interest for researchers at BYU, where the university honor code requires students and faculty “live a chaste and virtuous life.” This bias leads researches to draw conclusions based on their existing belief. 

    The testing procedure calls the reliability of this study into question. Instead of randomly deciding which students would receive the abstinence-only education, researchers purposefully selected which students would participate in the abstinence-only program. Intentional selection allows researchers to fill the abstinence-only education group with students already more likely to abstain from sexual activity and then attribute their abstinence to the program. Additionally, only past studies by the lead researcher are cited when describing the reliability and validity of the testing measures. 

    Government officials should rely on high quality research, not studies tainted by religious belief, when making health care and education policy decisions.

    Please tell the Department of Health and Human Services to remove the Heritage Keepers Abstinence Education program from its list of evidence-based pregnancy prevention programs that receive government funding until they are supported by published, unbiased, reliable research. 

  • Vote "No" on Religious Refusal Bill

    The issue of “religious freedom” continues to be fought out on the national stage—but now New Hampshire state legislators are aiming to attack employees’ individual freedoms at the state level.

    Wednesday, the New Hampshire Republican-controlled House voted to allow employers with religious objections to exclude contraceptive coverage from their health plans.

    This bill comes on the heels of the Blunt Amendment, a failed attempt to pass similar legislation in the U.S. Senate last week. The Blunt amendment would have allowed employers to exclude any insurance benefit they deem immoral or “contrary to their religious beliefs.”

    The New Hampshire House voted 196-150 to send the bill to the state’s Republican-controlled Senate, where it will be up for vote soon.

    Will you help stop this bill by contacting your state senator today?

    Email your state senator now and tell them to protect real religious freedom—and vote “no” on this bill. 

  • Tell the Senate to Vote "NO" on the Blunt Amendment

    Urge the U.S. Senate not to support Sen. Roy Blunt’s amendment that would allow employers to exclude any health insurance benefit they deem immoral or “contrary to their religious beliefs.” 

  • Urge Virginia Gov. McDonnell Not to Sign ‘Religious Refusal’ Bill

    Earlier this month, the Secular Coalition urged you, our Virginia supporters, to contact your State Senators and tell them not to pass Virginia House Bill No. 189, a bill to that would add a “religious refusal” language to the existing laws governing child placement agencies.

    Unfortunately and despite all efforts, Virginia lawmakers voted to pass the bill.

    This bill is wrong. If signed into law, it would allow state-funded faith-based agencies to turn away potential adoptive parents based on the adoptive parents’ sexual orientation or the agencies’ written religious policies. In short, it would use taxpayer dollars to discriminate against some Virginians on the basis of religion.

    But it’s not too late. Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell can still turn things around by refusing to sign the bill.

    If the last few weeks have shown us anything, it’s that the Virginia lawmakers will listen to their constituents—if they don’t back down. Just this week, after 1,000 protestors showed up on the steps of the State Capital in silent protest, Gov. McDonnell pulled support for an anti-abortion ultrasound bill that would have required a transvaginal ultrasound for women seeking abortions.

    Just yesterday, the full Virginia Senate killed the so-called “personhood” bill for the year, despite that it was projected to be passed. The bill would have defined life as beginning at conception.

    Two down, one to go—and we need your help to get over that final hurdle. Stand with reasonable Virginians across the state, and tell Gov. McDonnell not to sign the religious refusal bill.

  • Tell the U.S. Representatives to respect individuals' religious freedom in contraceptive coverage

    Yesterday, House Speaker John Boehner demanded that the Obama administration add additional exemptions to a Department of Health and Human Services regulation requiring that most employers' health insurance plans cover no-cost access to women's preventative health services, including access to contraception.

    The Speaker, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and others have insisted that this requirement is a "unambiguous attack on religious freedom in our country." The Speaker and other opponents of this regulation are confusing individuals' right to practice their religion without interference from the government with the notion that employers should be able to impose their beliefs on their employees.

    Almost every sexually active American woman has used contraception at some point in her life. To allow religiously affiliated hospitals, schools, and nonprofits to deny millions of women access to contraception would be a gross and unconstitutional infringement on their religious liberty. This regulation does not force Catholic or other religiously affiliated hospitals or care providers to actually provide care that runs counter to their deeply held beliefs. It only requires that they, as employers, make available to their employees access to contraceptive care if their employees choose to use it.

    Please tell your Representative to not support any attempt to dilute this regulation and deny millions of women access to contraception.

  • Tell your state senator: Discrimination has no place in Virginia adoptions

    The Virginia Senate will likely soon vote on House Bill 189, a measure which will add a "religious refusal" clause to Virginia’s child placement laws. This clause would allow state-funded private adoption agencies to discriminate in the placement of children based on the agencies' "written religious or moral convictions or policies."

    By codifying this exemption for "religious or moral convictions," the Virginia General Assembly is providing a license for private adoption agencies to use taxpayer dollars to discriminate against their own citizens. As written, the bill would allow private agencies to deny the placement of children with qualified adoptive parents on the basis of sexual orientation or marital status or the agencies' written religious or moral policies.

    This is not, as advocates of this bill have said, a question of religious liberty for these groups. Rather, it would allow for discrimination on loosely defined “moral” grounds by all private adoption agencies, and would force Virginia taxpayers to support agencies which treat their fellow citizens unfairly and unjustly.

    True religious liberty requires that individuals are free to practice their religious beliefs without interference from their government. It does not mean that faith-based organizations which receive public funding to provide adoption services are free from regulations that protect citizens from discrimination and which help to ensure the best interests of the approximately 1,300 children waiting to be adopted in Virginia.

    Please tell your state senator to not support HB 189 in its current form or in any other form which allows publicly funded organizations to discriminate on the basis of religious belief. 

  • Tell Congress: Stop Wasting Time on Divisive Symbolic Religious Issues

    Tomorrow, yet again, Congress will vote on a resolution aimed at promoting state-sponsored religion.

    H. CON. RES. 13, aims to reaffirm ‘‘In God We Trust’’ as the official motto of the United States and supports and encourages the public display of the national motto in all public buildings, public schools, and other government institutions.

    “In God We Trust” is already the official motto of the United States, and in raising this as an issue yet again, Republicans in the House are throwing a red herring to inflame culture wars and draw the focus off of fixing the economy.

    The resolution, sponsored by Representative Randy Forbes (R-VA), does nothing more than waste precious time and money on symbolic religious issues that divide rather than unite Americans in a time of universal economic struggle.

    With time being wasted on issues like this, it is no wonder the Congressional approval rate is at an all-time low. At a time when unemployment is at its highest point in decades, when American homes are being foreclosed at alarming rates, when Americans are crippled under the weight of student loan payments and millions of Americans are living pay check to pay check, members of Congress need to focus on the economy and stop trying to inflame culture wars.

    Tell Congress to stop wasting the taxpayers’ time and money on “reaffirming” symbolic religious issues and get to the business that the American people elected them to do—getting Americans back to work and the economy back on track.

  • Take Action: Tell President Obama to End Federally Funded Religious Bias in Hiring

    More than three years ago, then-candidate Barack Obama made a campaign pledge to end a Bush-era policy that allowed religious organizations receiving federal tax dollars to discriminate in hiring on the basis of religion. “If you get a federal grant, you can’t use that money to proselytize to the people you help, and you can’t discriminate against them – or against the people you hire – on the basis of their religion,” Obama said in Zanesville, Ohio, on July 1, 2008.

    More than two years into Obama’s presidency, however, this practice is still in place, and your tax dollars are being used to support religious organizations that can fire or refuse to hire employees on the basis of religion.

    Saturday, June 25, marked the 70th anniversary of President Franklin D. Roosevelt signing the first executive order to prevent government contractors from discriminating on the basis of “race, creed, or national origin.” President Lyndon B. Johnson expanded these protections to include religion when he signed Executive Order 11246 in 1965. In 2002, however, President George W. Bush signed an executive order carving out an exemption that allows religious organizations receiving federal contracts to discriminate in employment on the basis of religion.

    At a June 21 press conference in Washington, D.C., members of the U.S House and the Secular Coalition for America called upon President Obama to keep his campaign promise to end federally funded religious discrimination in employment by restoring Executive Order 11246 without delay.

    In honor of the 70th anniversary of President Roosevelt’s original landmark order, please help us end religious discrimination by taking a moment to write to President Obama, urging him to live up to his campaign promise to stop allowing federally funded religious organizations to discriminate against employees on the basis of religion.

  • Take Action: Urge Your Governor to Reject Extremist Prayer Meeting Invitation

    Declaring that “some problems are beyond our power to solve,” Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) is asking his 49 fellow governors to join him at an evangelical Christian prayer meeting in Houston to “call upon Jesus to guide us” and ask for “God’s forgiveness, wisdom and provision.”  

    Please help stop such theocratic grandstanding by joining your fellow citizens in contacting your governor and demanding that he or she reject Perry’s invitation to this divisive and counterproductive August 6 event, “The Response: A Call to Prayer for a Nation.”  Ask your governor to stand up for all citizens regardless of religion or worldview and focus on finding substantive solutions to real-world problems, instead of taking part in an event that proclaims the only possible solution is Jesus Christ.

    Perry’s prayer meeting does nothing to offer actual solutions to our country’s problems but rather urges other governors to take the same hands-off approach to governing and problem-solving.  Perry states, “There is hope for America, and we will find it on our knees … [a]s a nation, we must come together, and call upon Jesus to guide us.”  The Secular Coalition for America believes there is hope for America, but this hope is rooted in science, reason, and critical thinking. A government official should not be pushing any religion on his constituency or our elected leaders.

    The Secular Coalition for America believes that calling on all Americans to embrace Perry’s personal belief system is an insult to the millions of secular Americans who contribute to society, as well as millions of upstanding citizens who practice religions other than evangelical Christianity.  The statement of faith for the event, taken from the American Family Association, states, in part, “We believe that for the salvation of lost and sinful people, regeneration by the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential” and that non-Christians “are lost unto the resurrection of damnation.”

    Let your governor know that his or her participation in this prayer event would alienate millions of Americans who do not agree with Perry’s prayer-centered attempts to solve to real-world problems. We need to remind our elected officials that they represent all Americans, not simply those of one narrow religious viewpoint.

    You can contact your governor using our form letters below. Please feel free to personalize your letter. If you live in Texas, a second letter option will appear that you can send to Gov. Perry directly. 

  • Take Action: Demand Taxpayer Representation on Church Tax Commission

    On Wednesday, April 13, it was announced that a commission formed at the request of U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) to "spearhead an independent national effort" to investigate issues related to tax loopholes for religious organizations is composed exclusively of evangelical Christians -- several of whom are directly benefitting from current tax inequalities in our system.

    Without representation from independent interests, other religious denominations, and secular nonprofits, there is absolutely no way such a panel can offer objective guidance for much-needed reform of the flagrant tax abuses routinely committed by churches and other religious organizations.

    The Commission on Accountability and Policy for Religious Organizations was designed to investigate issues including whether churches should be required to file similar tax paperwork to other nonprofit organizations, including Form 990; whether legislation is needed to curb flagrant abuses of tax breaks for clergy housing; whether the current prohibition against political campaigning by churches and other nonprofits should be repealed or modified; and, whether legislation is needed to clarify tax rules covering “love offerings” received by some clergy.

    Please help SCA protest this blatant conflict of interest by writing to Senator Grassley and Dan Busby, president of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, telling them to not sell out taxpayers to evangelical interests. Demand that American taxpayers and other voices be included in examining ways to reform religious tax laws.

    If you live in Iowa, you can contact Senator Grassley by inserting your zip code below. Non-Iowa residents can contact Senator Grassley here. To contact Dan Busby, simply use the form below.

    For non-Iowa residents who contact Senator Grassley through his website, below is a suggested letter to send. You are encouraged to revise, add to, and personalize your message. When you contact the Senator through his website, please also send a copy to action@secular.org, to help us keep track of our campaign.

    Suggested text for Grassley letter:

    Dear Senator Grassley,
    I'm writing to voice my dismay that the Commission on Accountability and Policy for Religious Organizations has failed to include impartial representation of multiple religious and secular nonprofit interests.

    The recent announcement that all 15 of the panel's members are evangelical Christians means that the commission will have no credibility outside its own religious community to provide objective recommendations for reforming tax laws affecting religious organizations.

    I strongly urge you to do all within your power to ensure that the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability restructure the Commission's membership to include independent financial experts, as well as representatives of other religious traditions and secular nonprofits.

    You started this fight to make churches accountable on behalf of taxpayers; please don't drop the ball or kick it down the street. The conflicts of interest with the panel's current composition are just too obvious.

    Thanks for your time.

  • Take Action: Urge the Senate to Oppose Federal Funding of D.C. Religious Schools

    On March 30, 2011, the U.S. House of Represenatives approved the Scholarships for Opportunities and Results Act (SOAR), legislation that would expand the Washington, D.C. private school voucher pilot program and force every U.S. taxpayer to subsidize the religious education of thousands of students in Washington, D.C.

    A companion version of the bill, S. 206, is now awaiting action in the U.S. Senate, and we need your help to ensure it doesn't pass.

    Please take a moment to use the form below to contact your Senators and urge them to oppose the federal funding of religious schools in Washington, D.C.

    More than 80 percent of the students who receive federal vouchers through this program attend private religious schools that preach religious dogma without an op-out option and can discriminate in hiring and enrollment on the basis of religion. The bill has been opposed by the National Coalition for Public Education, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, and President Barack Obama. 

    The Secular Coalition for America takes no position on vouchers for secular private education, but SCA opposes the D.C. voucher program because it sends your taxpayer dollars to private religious schools that proselytize to students and are exempt from federal anti-discrimination laws.

    Help SCA protest this blatant violation of the separation of church and state by writing to your Senator now.

    Urge them to vote "no" on S. 206, the Scholarships for Opportunities and Results Act.

  • Tell Your Representative to Oppose Federal Funding of Religious Schools

    This Wednesday, March 30, the U.S. House of Representatives is set to vote on H.R. 471, the Scholarships for Opportunity and Results Act. This legislation would reauthorize and expand the Washington, D.C. federal private school voucher pilot program, under which millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars are funneled toward private religious schools that preach religious dogma and can discriminate against staff and students.  

    The Secular Coalition for America objects to voucher programs that use federal taxpayer dollars for private religious schools that proselytize to students and are exempted from federal civil rights laws, allowing them to discriminate in enrollment and hiring on the basis of faith.

    More than 80 percent of students receiving federal vouchers through the D.C. program attend private religious schools with such civil rights exemptions but no opt-out option for religious instruction. 

    Currently, this is the only federal voucher program subsidized with your tax dollars. However, new legislation has been introduced to create a federal voucher program nationwide. The Secular Coalition for America takes no position on the use of vouchers for secular private education, but SCA opposes the re-authorization of the D.C. voucher program because it has resulted in the federally funded religious training of thousands of D.C. children.

    Help SCA protest this blatant violation of the separation of church and state. Write to your representative in the U.S. House right now. Tell your representative to vote against programs that send your tax dollars to private religious schools.

  • Urge Congress to Oppose Divisive 'In God We Trust' Resolution

    On March 17, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee approved House Concurrent Resolution 13, a measure that would unnecessarily reaffirm the divisive phrase “In God We Trust” as our national motto and encourage its display in all public and government buildings. The resolution will now go the full House of Representatives for a vote.

    The Secular Coalition for America opposes this symbolic resolution because the term “In God We Trust” is not inclusive of the beliefs of all Americans, specifically atheists, agnostics, humanists and other nontheistic Americans, but also the millions of religious Americans whose beliefs do not entail the use of the word “god.” The phrase itself was not adopted as our nation’s official motto until 1956, at the height of McCarthyism and the Cold War. It is entirely inappropriate to brand a secular nation such as ours with a religious motto that creates division among citizens and erodes the wall of separation between church and state.

    If the phrase “In God We Trust” does not represent your views, or if you believe it is an improper motto for our secular government, please contact your representative and ask them to oppose H. Con. Res. 13. If you are a nontheist, we encourage you to explain that in your letter as well.

    You can read the entire text of the resolution here
    .     

  • Let Mayor-Elect Vincent Gray know that you demand equal representation for nontheistic D.C. residents at his inauguration prayer service

    To let Mayor-Elect Vincent Gray know that you demand equal representation for nontheistic D.C. residents and to stand up against discrimination, use the following message or write your own.

  • End Faith-Based Employment Discrimination Now!

    One day after the U.S. House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties held a hearing on “Faith Based Initiatives: Recommendations of the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Community Partnerships and Other Current Issues”, four congressmen condemned Attorney General Eric Holder for not sending an Obama Administration representative to the hearing as requested. 

    Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D - MI),  Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Lamar  Smith (R - TX), Subcommittee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D - NY), and Subcommittee Ranking Member F. James Sensenbrenner (R - WI) called the absence “inexcusable”, and stated that the U.S. Department of Justice’s failure to make clear a position about whether religious organizations may make religion-based employment decisions while receiving federal funds is “unacceptable” and “flatly inconsistent with the President’s pledge of greater transparency.” 

    The Congressmen declared that follow-up hearing would be held on or after December 2, 2010 and requested that Attorney General Holder to send a representative to this hearing.  You can read the entire letter here.

    The issue of religious discrimination in hiring for faith-based organizations receiving federal funds is a concern for the Secular Coalition for America and its members.  People are fired or denied employment from federally funded religious institutions each year for failing to subscribe to a particular religious faith.  In today’s tough economy, this means that in some cases people must choose whether to lie about their religious or nonreligious beliefs in order to get a job or risk losing their an existing job—while these organizations receive millions of your federal tax dollars. 

    Please tell Attorney General Holder it is unacceptable for religious institutions that accept federal dollars to be allowed to discriminate in hiring based on religious preferences. Urge Attorney General Holder to send a representative to the follow-up Subcommittee Hearing and fully explain why the Obama Administration believes religious institutions providing social services—not religious services—deserve special treatment and exemption from discriminatory hiring prohibitions. Please make your voice heard before the new year and email Attorney General Holder.

  • Tell Your Representative to Stand Up For Fact-Based Education

    By now, you’ve probably heard about the Texas State Board of Education’s moves to impose educational standards into its textbooks intended to indoctrinate Texas public school students with a telling of U.S. history that is based in extremist religious ideology.

    You’ve probably also heard about some of the more jaw-dropping proposed changes to the curriculum, such as booting Thomas Jefferson off of a list of influential thinkers in place of explicitly religious figures, and the totally fabricated assertion that our system of government is based specifically on the laws of Moses. This comes from the same group of theocrats who famously fought to undermine evolution in science classes and delete from science textbooks the scientific consensus on the age of the universe because they conflict with the Bible.

    As terrible as this religious imposition is for Texas students, all Americans have reason to fear. Due to the size of the Texas textbook market (and because other highly populated states do not use statewide textbook contracts in the same way), the backward dictates of its theocratic school board affect textbooks used by public school students all across the country.

    Someone in Congress is finally standing up to this abuse of power and unconstitutional overreach by the religious extremists on the Texas State Board of Education. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) recently introduced a resolution (H. Res. 1593) that supports fact-based curricula in public schools without meddling by those with an avowed religious agenda. Students in Texas and all across America need to know that Congress wants them to have an education based on facts and science, not myth and religious bias.

    TAKE ACTION NOW: Watch the video message above from Secular Coalition for America Executive Director Sean Faircloth supporting Rep. Johnson’s resolution, and then tell your member of Congress to become a co-sponsor.

    * * Share this message with your social networks right now so your friends can make their voice heard. * *

  • Action Alert: Tell Congress to Protect All Kids from Corporal Punishment



    The law says it's okay for my teacher to hit me because I go to a religious school.Last month, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) introduced the Ending Corporal Punishment in Schools Act, a bill in Congress that would ban corporal punishment—in other words, striking kids to enforce discipline—in all public and private schools. This bill’s introduction is a positive step toward ending religious privilege in policy affecting and harming children.

    Many private religious schools are funded with taxpayer dollars. The students attending religious schools should be protected to the same extent as their public school counterparts.

    The Bible contains seven passages which specifically recommend the use of physical pain to discipline children. Among the more vivid of these passages are some that recommend the use of a rod to beat children—of course, the Bible also condones stonings and slavery. James Dobson, who leads the religious organization Focus on the Family with a budget over $100 million dollars, asserts, “spanking should be of sufficient magnitude to cause the child to cry genuinely,” and that “pain is a marvelous purifier.” Dobson advocates spanking for children as young as eighteen months old.

    Make no mistake: Exempting religious private schools from a ban on corporal punishment means the government is authorizing the use of physical violence as a form of punishment for a specific set of children. Children in religious schools are no less human – and no less deserving of safety from physical harm -- than any other children.

    Currently only Iowa and New Jersey ban corporal punishment in private as well as public schools, even though thirty states ban corporal punishment in public schools. Congress has the ability to regulate private schools that receive federal funds, and to ensure children in private religious schools are protected from this state-sanctioned violence like their public school counterparts.

    TAKE ACTION NOW: Ask your members of Congress to co-sponsor Ending Corporal Punishment in Schools Act. Tell them that as a Secular American you want them to protect all children equally and not give special privileges to religious schools and teachers to employ this practice on their students. 

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  • Tell the President to Keep His Word to End Religious Discrimination in Faith-Based Initiatives

    On July 1, 2008, then-Senator Obama promised the American people that his version of President Bush’s Faith-Based Initiatives program would end proselytizing and religious discrimination for organizations that receive federal tax dollars. He promised to abide by "a few basic principles" that would protect the constitutional separation of church and state in his plan for an expanded Faith-Based Initiative program:

    First, if you get a federal grant, you can't use that grant money to proselytize to the people you help and you can't discriminate against them – or against the people you hire – on the basis of their religion. Second, federal dollars that go directly to churches, temples, and mosques can only be used on secular programs.

    Now, almost exactly two years to the day, nothing has changed from the Bush era. Instead, discrimination cases are decided on a “case by case basis,” with no guiding principle or binding executive rule. The Secular Coalition for America has consistently challenged the status quo of the Faith Based Initiatives program. Government reports and hearings have documented the constitutional problems and gross abuses rampant in this program, but the status quo remains.

    The good news is that President Obama can keep his word with the stroke of a pen. There is no congressional action needed to implement these crucial reforms; it simply requires an Executive Order issued by the president. 

    After watching the video above, tell the president that you want him to keep his promise, and that religious discrimination must never be subsidized by your tax dollars. Then be sure to share this action alert with your online contacts with the button below so your friends can have their voices heard as well.

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  • Action Alert: End Religious Harassment in Rehab

    Real help, not religious harassment.Imagine you or someone you love is desperately in need of alcohol rehabilitation services, and the only provider in the area is faith-based. Counseling sessions are held in a room containing crosses and scripture, but because the center receives federal funds, you know they are required to provide secular alcohol and addiction services.  After a few weeks of attending counseling sessions, you are invited by a church employee who is not a counselor to stay at the center for a Bible class held in the same building. As a nontheist, you politely refuse. The following week this same employee corners you after class and starts a long, awkward conversation about how you need to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. You feel as though you cannot comfortably continue to attend this treatment center when you are forced to interact with this individual in the midst of your treatment. You tell your counselor, but you’re told that the law says there is nothing to be done.

    Proselytizing to someone in the middle of addiction treatment – at a vulnerable moment -- is nothing less than harassment. Since legislation containing so-called “charitable choice” provisions were first enacted in 1996, anyone obtaining counseling at a faith-based substance abuse treatment center could be subject to this kind of treatment by church employees. While counselors are forbidden from proselytizing, there is no measure prohibiting employees or volunteers of a faith-based organization or religious institution from doing so before or after treatment.

    Tell your senators to remove “charitable choice” provisions that allows religious organizations to proselytize to  people seeking counseling for substance abuse or mental health issues. 

    The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Act (SAMHSA) was just re-introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI). Despite many behind-the-scenes meetings, Mr. Kennedy refused calls by the Secular Coalition for America to introduce this legislation with stronger protections for beneficiaries of social services. The Senate is now working on their version of SAMHSA and it’s important that they hear from you. Tell them to remove charitable choice provisions that allow proselytizing at federally-funded substance abuse and mental health centers—be they religious or not.

    So-called “charitable choice” provisions also allow the direct funding of houses of worship with your tax dollars. They are given carte blanche to perform secular social services without having to separate taxpayer money from the funds they receive from their parishioners for strictly sectarian purposes. Before “charitable choice”, all religious institutions and faith-based organizations were required to set up separate 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations to which taxpayer money was directed. This money could then be audited by the federal government. Since 1996, faith-based organizations no longer have to allocate the money they receive from the federal government in a 501(c)3 – they can literally keep it in the same account as money from the collection plate!

    It is often impossible to know whether houses of worship are using government funds for sectarian purposes, or whether they are really keeping this money separate. Moreover, IRS rules make it very difficult to audit houses of worship and the lack of 501(c)3s make it even more difficult to pinpoint corruption. If we must send federal dollars to faith-based organizations and religious institutions to perform social services, they must be held accountable for how they spend taxpayer’s dollars. 

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  • Tell Congress: Stop Pharmacists From Playing God with Women's Health

    In 2005, the Arizona Daily Star reported that a 20-year-old woman living in Tucson, Arizona was raped. The woman spent three frantic days calling dozens of Tucson pharmacies trying to fill a valid prescription from a doctor for emergency contraception. She finally found a pharmacy carrying the prescription, but she was told the pharmacist on duty would not dispense it due to his religious bias. By the time a willing pharmacist was found, the optimal time frame for taking the medication had passed.

    Pharmacists in four states are allowed to deny women emergency contraception, even to rape victims, if doing so violates their own religious attitudes. Such laws impose one person's particular religion on another person, denying a perfectly legitimate medical service. Pharmacists should not be able to deny a woman access to valid medical services. It is unconscionable that a trauma such as rape should be compounded by denying access to emergency contraception. That is why you should urge your members of Congress to co-sponsor the Access to Birth Control Act (ABC Act). 

    Women are not second class citizens. No woman with a valid prescription should be denied treatment because of someone else's religion. The ABC Act would stop pharmacies from denying the sale of contraceptives because of a pharmacy employee's religious attitudes. In recent years, women in at least 24 states across the country have reported incidents where they have been denied access to birth control and emergency contraception.

    Pharmacists are employed in the field of medicine, not religion. They have the right to consider their own religious beliefs in determining what medical decisions they make for their own care. Their religious bias should never override their professional obligation to their customers and patients.

    The ABC Act ensures that the rights of patients to information, referrals, and prescriptions trump the desire of religious pharmacists to deny women the care or services they need and deserve.

    * * * Share this alert with your friends and social network connections and tell them to make their voice heard. * * *

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  • Don’t Let a Few Theocrats Have a National Effect on Public School Curricula

    A few theocratic members of the Texas State Board of Education—already infamous for their moves to indoctrinate Texas students with creationism in science classes—are falsely asserting a theocratic basis to America’s founding and removing, of all people, Thomas Jefferson from a list of influential thinkers.

    A handful of religious extremists can affect schools across America. Because other big states like California and New York do not impose statewide standards in the same way, Texas is one of the largest statewide textbook markets. Texas uses some of its $22 billion education fund to buy or distribute a staggering 48 million textbooks annually—which strongly inclines educational publishers to tailor products to fit Texas standards.

    The Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association have developed (and the Obama administration has embraced) common core educational standards, but they apply only to math and English language arts. As the New York Times recently noted, some basic, factual subjects, such as evolution may be deemed “controversial” in the 21st Century’s educational environment. If standards are to exist, federal financial incentives must apply with equal force to science and history just as they do for math and English. To do otherwise is to succumb to the pressure of religious extremists.

    Let’s make sure our community’s voice is heard.

    Write your Member of Congress now! Tell them that if they support national education standards and incentives for math and English, they should support standards that are just as strong for science and history, regardless of pressure from religious extremists.

    Secular Americans believe that every student deserves to learn science and our nation’s history as they actually are, with no bias for or against any ideology or religion. Religious creation myths have no place in science classes, and religiously-based revisions and indoctrinations should be equally unwelcome in history classes. We should not be afraid to set standards because of religious extremists.

  • Tell Congress to Permanently Repeal the Global Gag Rule

    In January 2009, President Obama overturned the Global Gag Rule, a US policy that restricted foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that receive US family planning funds from using their own, non-US funds to provide legal abortion services, advocate for abortion law reform in their own countries, or even provide accurate medical counseling or referrals regarding abortion. The Global Democracy Promotion Act (H.R. 4879/S. 311), introduced by Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), would permanently repeal this dangerous policy. A permanent repeal is necessary to ensure that US-funded organizations can continue to implement policies that meet the needs of women and families around the world.

    The Global Gag Rule is a symbol to the world of how American foreign policy is swayed by powerful religious interest groups who view foreign policy funding as a vehicle by which to inject religious values into international affairs.

    Since President Reagan introduced the gag rule in 1984, it has symbolized how the Religious Right has manipulated federal policy to promote their religious values and deny woman the health care services and information they rightfully need and deserve. The global gag rule prohibits a woman from knowing her medical options under the guise that to allow her comprehensive information and care would encourage what some religious groups deem to be immoral actions and behaviors. No Congress or President should be telling women overseas or in the U.S. what medical choices they should be allowed to make. By prohibiting federal funds from being directed to hospitals, clinics and non-governmental organizations that provide comprehensive reproductive information and services, they are using American taxpayers to mandate “moral” behavior and messaging based on the views of some specially privileged religious groups. 

    For the past ten years, the Global Democracy Promotion Act has been introduced for the purpose of repealing the Global Gag Rule. This year must be different. For the first time we have a president who supports the repeal of the Global Gag Rule—a rule the prevents all non-governmental organizations which receive federal funding for overseas projects from providing full and accurate medical information to those they serve—and we have a Congress with the votes to pass a permanent repeal to this rule. But the window to get this legislation repealed is closing. We need you to contact your members of Congress in both the House and the Senate and urge them to co-sponsor this year’s version of the Global Democracy Promotion Act (H.R. 4879 and S. 311).

    It’s critical that we show leadership in the House and Senate that the American public no longer will stand for taxpayer dollars to be restricted to organizations that agree not to provide abortion services, counsel on the option of abortion or emergency contraception, refer patients to other abortion providers, or lobby for abortion legalization in their countries.

    It is time that Congress permanently repeals this gag rule, so no matter who is in the Oval Office, federal funds can go to hospitals and clinics that provide comprehensive reproductive information and services, rather than only to those that restrict informing women of all their choices and rights. 

  • Tell President Obama: Give Us a Justice Who Will Uphold the Legacy of John Paul Stevens

    John Paul Stevens is not just any Justice. John Paul Stevens is a Justice for the ages. Since 1975 he has been a stellar voice for secular values on our Supreme Court, and he has consistently stood for the timeless secular character of our constitutional heritage. 

    President Obama now has a momentous responsibility that goes far beyond any one news cycle or any transitory political climate. The decision as to who will replace Justice Stevens on the Supreme Court is one of the most important and most lasting this president will ever make.

    Justice Stevens consistently voted to maintain the principles of church-state separation, and frequently made a specific point of citing atheists and other nonbelievers as those who would be harmed or denied justice in court rulings. On prayer in school, on the funding of religious institutions with taxpayer dollars, and on the special rights granted to religion, Justice Stevens has been on our side.

    Currently, this highest judicial body includes Antonin Scalia, who has written that religious believers should "combat" the idea that government authority does not come from God; Samuel Alito, who has penned flattering letters to James Dobson thanking him for his help in being confirmed; Clarence Thomas, who believes that the Establishment Clause of the Constitution does not apply to the states; and Chief Justice John Roberts, who has argued in support of "court-stripping" legislation that would take away judicial power to decide cases on issues such as school prayer - so that minority rights are ultimately decided by politicians, not the courts.

    Please send President Obama a message: Appoint a Supreme Court Justice who will follow Justice Stevens' noble example of protecting the secular character of our constitution and considering how nontheists will be affected by court decisions. The president must nominate someone who has expressly advocated enforcement of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment and knows, as does Justice Stevens, that the privileging of religion has no place in law or government. 

    Time is short: The president will nominate someone soon. So here's what we need you to do right now to ensure a Supreme Court that respects the secular character of our nation and our Constitution:

    Write to President Obama below. Tell him to nominate a justice in the Stevens mold: a friend to Secular Americans and a guard against theocracy.  Then…

    Forward this alert to at least five friends, tell them to send their own letter and to sign up for other e-mails from the Secular Coalition for America.

  • Action Alert: Stop the Federal Funding of Religious Schools

    Last night Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) filed a D.C. voucher amendment to the second jobs bill under consideration by the Senate.  The D.C. voucher program uses taxpayer funds to pay for parents to send their children to private religious schools. The program is called the “D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program,” but a 2007 government report found that these vouchers do not give D.C. students seeking a private school education sufficient secular choices, forcing them to attend religious schools or remain in the failing public school system. 

    By design, voucher programs aid struggling Christian schools. A July 2009 report by Rutgers University on the D.C. voucher program concluded that the way the voucher program is structured “essentially push[es] students into Christian Association and Catholic schools, pricing out independent (non-religious) schools and Hebrew schools.”

    By continuing this program, those of us who do not wish to subsidize someone else's church will continue to be forced to do so through our federal tax dollars.

    The vote will occur sometime today.  Please take five minutes and email your Senators below and tell them to vote against this amendment that would re-authorize this program.

    The Secular Coalition for America opposes the use of government funds for religious purposes, including vouchers for religious schools. We agree with the founders of the United States that no individual taxpayer should be required to pay for someone else's religion. We agree with James Madison. Senator Lieberman wants us to go in a different direction.

    The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship, with your tax money, funds and enables proselytizing and religious discrimination. Recipients of the vouchers who attend religious schools are not even allowed to opt out of religious activities at their school—a direct affront to religious freedom.

    It is critical that you write your Senators today and ask them to oppose Sen. Lieberman’s amendment that would re-authorize this program and spend your taxes to fund the religious education of children in D.C.

  • Action Alert: Tell Obama to Reform the Faith Based Initiative Program

    Twelve Months, Two Words.

    On July 1, 2008 Barack Obama promised to abide by "a few basic principles" that would protect the constitutional separation of church and state in his plan for an expanded faith based initiative program. He was specific: "First, if you get a federal grant, you can't use that grant money to proselytize to the people you help and you can't discriminate against them – or against the people you hire – on the basis of their religion. Second, federal dollars that go directly to churches, temples, and mosques can only be used on secular programs."

    On February 5, 2009 President Obama issued his Executive Order establishing his Faith Based Intiative program.  Twelve months later at the National Prayer Breakfast, President Obama claimed that his administration had "turned the faith-based initiative around" from its misuse during the Bush administration. But it appears the only thing President Obama has changed about how millions of federal dollars are spent is that the office guiding the direct funding of houses of worship is now called  the "White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships" rather than the "Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives."           Twelve months, Two words. That's not a turn around, it's a re-branding.

    Take Action Now: Tell President Obama to honor his commitment to reforming the Faith Based Initiative Program

    The Secular Coalition for America has called for reform and oversight of the Office and the agencies that it oversees for years. Government reports and hearings have documented the constitutional problems and gross abuses rampant in this program, but a year later all Americans continue to have their federal dollars used for government-condoned religious discrimination, while reforms to prohibit proselytizing in these purportedly secular social service programs have still not been enacted. 

    The President can keep his commitment with the stroke of a pen. Congress does not need to pass a law to make these changes a reality, it simply requires an Executive Order issued by the President. 

    America’s Founding Fathers strongly believed in a clear separation between church and state. They gave us a Constitution that forbids government to support or oppose any religion, leaving Americans free to follow their own consciences when it comes to matters of faith. In the words of the First Amendment, government shall make “no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof….”

    Churches and other houses of worship are free to spread their beliefs. But they are expected to raise their own funds through the voluntary contributions of the faithful. Taxation to support religion and religious endeavors was forbidden under the Founders’ constitutional framework. No American should be compelled through taxation to subsidize any religion. Twelve months, Two words.

  • Stop Footing the Bill for Religious Training in D.C. Private Schools

    DC vouchers are bad. Take action.