Why is American Atheists Looking to Hire a Public Policy Director?

The Secular Coalition for America has a Washington DC-based office headed by Edwina Rogers.

The Center for Inquiry also has a DC-based Office of Public Policy headed by Michael De Dora.

And the American Humanist Association is based in DC and does public policy work, too.

And now, American Atheists is looking for someone to assist with the implementation of its public policy goals:

Responsibilities may include:

  • Arranging and taking meetings with Congressional and Administration officials.
  • Drafting action alerts for mass emails to American Atheists members.
  • Collaborating with coalitions of national nontheistic and secular organizations to create better outcomes for the nontheistic community in everyday life.
  • Monitoring federal legislative and administrative policies.
  • Monitoring state actions for bills and laws that violate the separation of religion and government.
  • Developing policy proposals related to secularizing the tax code
  • Preparing comments and other position statements.
  • Other tasks as assigned.

Candidates should have at least 3 years of professional experience in public policy and legislative affairs and have a degree in law or related to public policy as well as knowledge of the Constitution, federal government, and the tax code; excellent analytic and problem solving skills; creativity and leadership; knowledge of the legislative process; ability to work independently; and excellent written and verbal skills.

Well-qualified candidates will have Capitol Hill experience and a demonstrated commitment to the nontheistic community or separation of religion and government issues.

American Atheists’ headquarters is in New Jersey; this position will be based at a satellite office in Washington, D.C.

Salary will be commensurate with experience. Additional benefits include paid sick, holiday, and vacation days; health insurance and dental insurance.

Please send a cover letter, resume, and a writing sample related to public policy or a public policy issue to careers@atheists.org. Applications will be considered on a rolling basis until June 3, 2013.

I asked AA Managing Director Amanda Knief why the group was looking to do its own DC-based work when that ground was seemingly covered by other groups in our movement and she told me this:

AA is putting a public policy director in DC in order to give atheists — not humanists or nontheists — a stronger presence when there is lobbying and to make sure AA’s point of view and its members are represented. We think this is a positive sign that four major organizations will provide representation in D.C. for the nontheistic movement. It is a sign that our movement is growing and lets the political world know that our constituency can support such efforts. It increases the credibility and the clout of all of our organizations — especially as we work together.

While there’s bound to be significant overlap in the groups’ goals, I like that another group is jumping into the fray. The more representatives we have in DC, the more ground we can cover.

AA will be renting out space in the SCA office and the new hire will be expected to work with all of the aforementioned groups, along with other allies like the ACLU and Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

So bring it on. The more, the merrier.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • http://www.facebook.com/MattDavisBuxton Matt Davis

    I’ve had an idea to try and stop the spread of fundamentalism. It’s not against church/state because it doesn’t promote any one religion; hopefully this will help. Please spread this if you agree with it! Thanks! https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/teach-comparative-religions-early-age-try-and-reduce-risks-and-dangers-fundamentalism/2PbWZbrs

    • Tobias2772

      Matt,
      In theory this makes a lot of sense, but as a school teacher in South Carolina, let me tell you that, in practice, this would just turn out to be an open invitation for christian prostelytizing. Many teachers down here don’t need much of an excuse to witness anyway. This would have a totally different effect than you desire.

      • http://www.facebook.com/MattDavisBuxton Matt Davis

        Hmm… maybe prosetylizing in schools can be specifically banned as a result of this? Comparative religions as belief systems, NOT PROVEN FACTS. This is really important.

        I’m so worried about the influence the Religious Right has. They’re infiltrating everything, attempting to convert everyone and take over the world. Look at what they’re doing in Uganda with their political posturing – death penalty for homosexual activity due to “good-willed loving missionaries”.

        Also, if someone did preach and it got back to a parent, lawsuits would ensue. ACLU, FFRF and AUFSCS would gladly help! Then there’s the fact that it can be divided by time. Firstly, teach Judaism for a fixed time period. Then Islam. Then Atheism / Humanism. Then Christianity. Then Hinduism. Or something like that – giving each one an equal amount of time; maybe less for Atheism et al. due to its lack of belief, but reminding each class regularly that it’s their choice to believe or not in whatever they decide; give them the freedom to choose.

        • allein

          My school did that as part of the freshman social studies curriculum. We covered 5 or 6 of the biggest religions: Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism…and Shinto I think? It really was just a “this is what they believe” kind of thing. But this was in central NJ (in the early ’90s) and while there are plenty of churches around, I’ve never encountered a lot of overt religiosity in my everyday life. Other parts of the country might not be so neutral about it. I do think it’s important to teach, though. Schools just have to be careful of how they go about it.


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