January 14, 2010
Council for Secular Humanism Joins Secular Coalition for America
On Sunday, January 10, the Council for Secular Humanism (Council) became a member of the Secular Coalition for America (SCA). The membership vote was taken at the SCA board meeting in Washington, D.C. As many of you are aware, SCA is an advocacy organization for atheists, agnostics, humanists, freethinkers, and other nontheists. SCA lobbies both Congress and the Executive Branch on issues of concern to secular Americans.
The decision to request membership in SCA was supported by the management of the Council and the Center for Inquiry, as well as a majority of the boards of directors for both organizations. Management expects the Council’s membership in SCA will provide significant assistance to the Council in fulfilling its mission to support and advance the interests of humanists and other nonreligious Americans. Joining the SCA will allow the Council to work effectively with other nontheistic organizations on shared goals. SCA has a professional full-time staff, including an executive director, Sean Faircloth, who has extensive legislative experience, having served as Majority Whip in the Maine State Legislature. More information about SCA can be found on its website: http://www.secular.org/ .
We decided that the Council, rather than the Center for Inquiry (CFI) should join SCA. CFI is itself a coalition of sorts, supporting both humanists and skeptics as it works with its two affiliates, the Council and the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI). Not all supporters of CSI are nonreligious or interested in the public policy issues that especially concern the nonreligious. As SCA focuses almost exclusively on such issues, we concluded that the Council rather than CFI would be a better fit for membership. In addition, of course, CFI already has a professionally staffed lobbying office in Washington, D.C., namely the Office of Public Policy under the direction of Toni Van Pelt: http://www.centerforinquiry.net/opp . The Office of Public Policy has a broader focus than the SCA, working on many issues relating to the promotion of science and the application of relevant scientific research to legislation, as evidenced by its recent work on global climate change and alternative medicine. Obviously, the Office of Public Policy and the SCA will work together closely on matters of common concern, but working through both SCA and the Office of Public Policy will allow CFI and its affiliates to advocate on the entire spectrum of public policy matters that are of concern to supporters of all three organizations—CFI, CSI and the Council.
Tom Flynn, executive director of the Council, and I were very favorably impressed with the staff of SCA when we had an opportunity to meet them this past weekend, and we had productive exchanges with the leaders of the other organizations that are already members of SCA. We firmly believe membership in SCA represents an important step forward for both the Council and CFI.
Ronald A. Lindsay
President & CEO