Phoenix, AZ (May 30, 2012)—The Secular Coalition for America (SCA) this month announced the implementation schedule for 50 state chapters planned to launch nationwide this year.
Secular Coalition for America—a lobbying organization representing nontheistic Americans and advocating for a strong separation of religion and government—will launch chapters in 48 states, as well as Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico by the end of 2012. Two state affiliates, the Secular Coalition for Arizona and Secular Coalition for Alabama, are already operational.
Secular Coalition for Arizona (SC Arizona) is SCA’s first state affiliate and launched in October 2010. SC Arizona is independently funded by the Arizona nontheistic community and lobbies full-time at the State Capitol to defend secular principles, safeguard the wall of protection between church and state, and ensure that religion is not used as a weapon to discriminate against politically vulnerable people.
“Politics in our state is largely dominated by the evangelical Christian lobby group, Center for Arizona Policy, and frankly, Arizona’s legislators have just not fully considered how damaging it is to the freedoms of all Arizonans to legislate the views of a religious minority. It’s really oppressive,” says Seráh Blain, Executive Director of SC Arizona. “Secular Coalition for Arizona is committed to making sure lawmakers understand that secular civil government guarantees freedom and fairness for all Arizonans—regardless of religious belief or non-belief.”
SCA will host an informational call on SC Arizona’s efforts and future plans on June 4, 12 p.m. Arizona Time, led by Seráh Blain of SC Arizona and Kelly Damerow, SCA’s Research and Advocacy Manager. The call-in number is 530-881-1400, conference code 978895.
“Too much erosion to the wall of protection between religion and government happens at the local level, and can best be addressed by grassroots, secular organizing,” says Blain. “This is where SC Arizona excels. In addition to lobbying at the State Capitol, we’re working on growing local nontheistic communities; implementing a school board task-force to protect our secular public schools; and engaging the broader community in conversations about the importance of secular government. We’re looking forward to getting more people involved in secular activism.”
While SC Arizona and SC Alabama will continue to operate as independently run affiliates, SCA has adopted a chapter model for the subsequent 48 state groups as well as Puerto Rico and Washington DC. State chapters will receive websites, as well as training, promotional and educational materials. Chapters will be trained, organized and supported by the Secular Coalition for America.
Edwina Rogers, Executive Director of Secular Coalition for America, said lobbying at the state and local level is important on several fronts and from a long term strategic perspective.
“In our current U.S. Congress, 38 percent of Representatives held local office first,” said Rogers. “When we get to law makers 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.”
SCA will be hosting state chapter organizing calls throughout the summer. Official dates and times will be announced at Secular.org/about/states.
Secular Coalition for Arizona is a 501(c)4 political advocacy organization working to defend secular principles and safeguard the wall of protection between church and state. SC Arizona stands against privileging a single narrow, ideological religious viewpoint over the views of other religions and nonreligion, and fights for equality, security, justice, and basic fairness for all Arizonans regardless of religious belief or nonbelief. The coalition consists of 15 nontheistic and secularist organizations throughout Arizona and is a state-affiliated organization of the Secular Coalition for America in Washington D.C. For more information, please visit www.secularAZ.org.
Secular Coalition for Americais a 501(c)(4) organization that serves as the national lobby for atheists, agnostics, humanists, freethinkers, and other nontheistic Americans. Composed of 11 diverse member organizations, SCA works to protect and strengthen the secular character of our government as the best guarantee of freedom for all. For more information, please visit www.secular.org.