My main question for Ellen concerns the relationship of American Atheists with other freethought organizations such as Americans United for the Separation of Church and State or the Freedom From Religion Foundation. If she is right about political clout through numbers (and I believe she is), wouldn’t we be smart to combine as many of these organizations as possible?
Here is Ellen’s response to this question:
We can’t “combine” organizations. We are all different and we should respect our differences. But it is important to work together where and how we can. American Atheists has been leading the way on this for years. We have found that the best way is to work together on an ad hoc basis.
We have held press conferences on various national issues at The National Press Club in Washington DC and invited representatives of any group that agrees with us to be part of that press conference — on our dime.
We did this when Michael Newdow appeared before the Supreme Court. We had many speakers from many groups speak with us in front of the Supreme Court. We did this when we formed the GAMPAC [Godless Americans Political Action Committee]. Our board of advisors is composed of representatives of many other groups. We did this when we organized the Foxhole Atheists March on Washington. We did this when we organized the March On Washington. We paid for the whole thing and then invited representatives of all the groups to come and stand together with us, shoulder to shoulder in unity. They made it onto C-SPAN.
We think this works best, respects our differences and combines our strengths. Over and over and over American Atheists has brought together all these groups and we will continue to do so.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to answer the question.
Incidentally, working with the Secular Coalition for America (SCA), the Washington D.C.-based lobbying group for non-religious people, I have seen many like-minded organizations working together. Currently, the coalition includes:
- American Humanist Association
- Atheist Alliance International
- Freedom From Religion Foundation
- Institute for Humanist Studies
- Secular Student Alliance
- Secular Web / Internet Infidels
- Society for Humanistic Judaism
More groups may be joining in the next month, and hopefully, American Atheists will consider joining the SCA in the future as well.
[tags]atheist, atheism, American Atheists, Ellen Johnson, American Humanist Association, Atheist Alliance International, Freedom From Religion Foundation, Institute for Humanist Studies, Secular Student Alliance, Secular Web, Internet Infidels, Society for Humanistic Judaism[/tags]