Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) Will Speak at Secular Coalition for America’s Lobby Day and Secular Summit Event

As I’ve mentioned before, the Secular Coalition for America is sponsoring a Lobby Day and Secular Summit next week. It’s a packed event full of educational meetings, panels about issues non-theists care about, and addresses by government officials.

The SCA announced weeks ago that Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) would be a Keynote Speaker on the morning of Wednesday, April 25th. And they’ve just announced that their second keynote speaker (giving a talk that same afternoon) will be Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA):

Harkin, who has been in Congress since 1975 and the Senate since 1985 will be retiring after his term ends in 2015. He is currently the Chair of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

You may recall that Harkin, who is Roman Catholic (PDF), delivered a taped message during last year’s Reason Rally.

At the time, the organizers of the Rally were criticized for inviting him to speak, because Harkin had previously tried to get alternative medicine covered under ObamaCare. (His amendment ultimately failed.)

So that’ll make for a verrrrrry interesting speech next week.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • WallofSleep

    Sounds like he’s smart enough to understand that a secular gov’t/society is a benefit to the religious as well as the non-religious. Promoting “alternative medicine”, however…

    “Do you know what they call alternative medicine that’s been proved to work? Medicine.”

  • chicago dyke

    i really can’t understand why atheism is associated with ‘hate of all things labeled alternative.’

    i mean, if it’s your pet issue to hate, fine. but for me they are two wholly separate things. wanna object to harkin? pick something really awful, like his support for a war of choice, or vote in favor of cutting aid, or something like that. i haven’t been over his whole voting record lately, but it seems to me a failed effort to include some practices some people don’t like is a lame choice to object to his important and valuable inclusion in the much more hated secular/atheism movement. he’s committed far worse legislative sins, i have no doubt.

  • Tervuren

    How can you mention Harkin without talking about the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) that he promoted. This law supports magical thinking; and does more actual harm than most laws promoted by the Fundies in Congress.

  • viddy_well

    To quote Tim Minchin:

    By definition, I begin
    Alternative medicine, I continue
    Has either not been proved to work,
    Or been proved not to work.
    Do you know what they call “alternative medicine”
    That’s been proved to work?

    Things like “therapeutic touch” would have been covered if his amendment had passed. I don’t think it’s crazy to criticize someone speaking at the Reason Rally for supporting such drivel.

  • WallofSleep

    For my part I have no hatred of all things labeled “alternative”. I enjoy many styles of “alternative” art and music, and I support those who wish to be free to legally pursue “alternative” life styles. This has nothing to do with my atheism.

    When it comes to “alternative” medicine, Minchin has the right of it. “Alternative” medicine that has been scientifically proven to work is simply referred to as medicine. This also has absolutely nothing to do with my atheism, and everything to do with my skepticism towards an industry full of woo pushing con-men selling dangerous bunk.


    Read the story of Abraham Lincoln in Quran (words of the God) since more than 1400 years ago

  • DougI

    People were upset with him supporting secularism because he supports alternative medicine? Great, so now we are so big and powerful that we can exclude others who don’t follow the group think. Perhaps there are people who just want to keep the secular movement weak and divided.

  • Quintin van Zuijlen

    He’s in the wrong there but in the right on this issue, and that’s what should matter. We shouldn’t shy away from taking allies we might disagree with at times.

  • McAtheist

    You rascal, I read until I found it – it’s a little over half way down – that’s 18 minutes I have lost forever.

  • baal

    aliq – that was very nearly entertaining!

    For everyone else, it’s yet another pseudo – science arglebargle where letters that sound like D N and A appear in the Quran (Shocking!) therefore elephants, Lincoln and the periodic table of the elements prove noah and the flood. I’m sure I skipped a few steps in my summary but it’s not like the items are actually related or form a coherent argument.

  • mcrotk

    You meant Thursday morning (not Wednesday) for Congressman Nadler’s talk.


    Many details about USA states and history are very clear in Quran…but I know why you deny all of the clear signs? because I know from Quran that a lot of people will not ever believe whatever the miracles and signs they will see…and they will believe only when they leave thier graves and see hell fire…I hope that the God will guide you to the truth


    There was an old nation asked for alive camel to be produced from a rock and the God created the camel out of the rock while they were watching but they did not believe!!!!!!!!!….so you may know why hell fire will be full of miserable people…And I hope that the God will guide you and me to avoid hell fire