Occasionally, certain groups will get briefed by the White House on issues relating to their interests. This happens for environmental groups, health groups, and even religious groups.
But never an atheist group… until tomorrow.
Friday morning, surrounded by representatives from various national atheist organizations as part of the Secular Coalition for America, we will be meeting with White House officials about issues that matter to us.
Here is the official press release from the SCA (PDF).
Marking the first time in history a presidential administration has met for a policy briefing with the American nontheist community, on February 26 the Secular Coalition for America will engage with White House officials on issues of great concern to the secular movement.
Among the issues we plan to discuss are religious exemptions for parents who mistreat their children (i.e. kids with medical issues), military proselytization, and fixing Faith-Based Initiatives.
To any religious critics, we’re not looking for “special” treatment. All we ask for is fair treatment.
Dr. Ed Buckner, President of American Atheists, said “We are delighted that we will get the chance to speak to and to hear from the Obama administration at the briefing with the Secular Coalition for America tomorrow. We will not be seeking support for Atheism from the federal administration, because we know they must be neutral and because we are confident that our conclusions can compete and win in the marketplace of ideas, unaided by government. We seek an end to special rights for religious ideas and beliefs–in all regulations, laws, procedures, and pronouncements. The privileging of religiosity violates the First Amendment and good sense.”
I won’t be able to give a blow-by-blow account of what happens, but I hope that I can provide a summary of what we brought up while in the presence of key personnel in the Obama administration.
The goal is for them to take our stories and concerns to heart when setting their policies in the coming years.
It’s a wonderful opportunity, and it just shows the type of seat we now have at the political table.
This isn’t something that could have happened if we didn’t have national atheist organizations working together.