We Have Their Ear

This post is by Jesse Galef, who works for the Secular Coalition for America.  He also blogs at Rant & Reason

I’m back from my short vacation and started my first day with the Secular Coalition for America.  The good news is that I got to visit family in New York, the bad news is that I wasn’t around when some of my coworkers scored an exclusive meeting with White House officials.

Last week they met with Paul Monteiro, the White House Associate Director of Public Engagement.  One of his roles is to act as the  ‘religious liaison,’ interacting with religious lobbying groups – and now the Secular Coalition as well.

From what they tell me, the meeting went very well.  Mr. Monteiro is a Seventh-day Adventist himself, but was very friendly and made it clear that he welcomed us, and wanted to hear our point of view.  He agreed to have regular meetings with us to make sure he knows about our concerns.

Of course, there’s still lots of progress to be made. But there have been positive steps.  First President Obama went out of his way to include us in speeches, even in the national day of prayer proclaimation.  Now his office is listening to us, too.  It’s a signal that we’re a welcome part of the nation and the political process.

At the meeting, they discussed coercive religious proselytizing in the military, the faith-based initiatives, and employment discrimination.  What else do you think we should address?

If you could tell an administration official what nontheists care about, what would you say?

About Dr. Denise Cooper-Clarke

I am a graduate of medicine and theology with a Ph.D in medical ethics. I tutor in medical ethics at the University of Melbourne, am an (occasional) adjunct Lecturer in Ethics at Ridley Melbourne, and a voluntary researcher with Ethos. I am also a Fellow of ISCAST and a past chair of the Melbourne Chapter of Christians for Biblical Equality. I have special interests in professional ethics, sexual ethics and the ethics of virtue.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    I want a freethinker on the Supreme Court.

  • Sam

    I second Reginald, but also am very concerned with religion in schools whether it be overt prayer or teaching creationism. Too many times I hear stories about children being put in really uncomfortable situations when schools allow public prayer or otherwise exclude nontheists.

    I know this is more of a state issue, but nonetheless things could be done at the federal level.

  • Larry Huffman

    I want a freethinker on the Supreme Court.

    Yes…one would think that this would be everyone’s view and would go without saying. Of course, it is usually quite the opposite that people hope for in that important position.

  • http://retropolitics.tumblr.com EvilPoet

    Actions speak louder that words.

  • http://www.atheistrev.com vjack

    I think you are on the right track by focusing on separation of church and state. Most of the other goals I would have are things that we have to do for ourselves and have thus far been unwilling to do.

  • James Sweet

    Off topic, there was a banner at the top of the site for Dianetics.org. I saw the same banner on youtube today watching a video by TheAmazingAtheist. Uh…. is CoS buying up ad space keyed on the word “atheist” or “atheism”?!? That would be a real ass move… :(

  • Reginald Selkirk

    I want Bill Donohue appointed as ambassador to the Vatican, and given a one-way ticket.

  • http://www.secular.org Jesse Galef

    Reginald, that actually made me laugh out loud. Thanks. Since Bill Donohue compared me to a cannibal on national television, it’s a bit more personal when he’s involved.

  • SarahH

    Definitely separation of church/state issues, and I’d say a big one is gay marriage. Obama needs to repeal DOMA, like he promised to do during the campaign, as it’s unconstitutional.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Since Bill Donohue compared me to a cannibal on national television

    What? As a Catholic, Donohue regularly engages in ritual cannibalism. Did he mean it as a compliment?

  • http://notapottedplant.blogspot.com Transplanted Lawyer

    Abolish the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Partnerships.

    Yes, religious-based charities do good works. But once Federal money gets involved in underwriting their activities, there is always going to be at least an indirect subsidy of religious activity. There is also the appearance of supporting one denomination (or a set of denominations) over others. Better to use that money elsewhere on non-religious activities.

  • medussa

    Address the promotion of violence and terrorist acts against gays and lesbians by religious groups (i.e. Phelps and cohorts)

    Hold religious groups accountable for promoting domestic terrorism against pro choice health care providers (i.e. Operation Rescue)

    Address the overt political campaigning happening from the pulpit, in spite of religious tax-exempt status forbidding that (i.e. last presidential campaign).

    Point out that the mormon churches overt participation in CA’s Prop 8 campaign makes them liable for paying taxes. They can’t have it both ways.

    That’s just off the top of my head.

  • Hey You

    Can we get rid of that awful “In God We Trust” motto… and the “Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance? (why do we pledge allegiance to the FLAG, anyway? It’s just fabric, or a graphic design…)

  • http://naturalpond.blogspot.com village1diot

    Outstanding, it really looks like you can make a difference. Keep up the great work.

  • Epistaxis

    Actions speak louder that words.

    I hope so, for your sake.

  • http://cycleninja.blogspot.com Paul Lundgren

    What in the world is the deal with the Scientology.org banner at the top of the post? How ironic of an ad banner is that?


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