The Secular Coalition for America, in partnership with its 19 member organizations (including the Freedom From Religion Foundation), has issued a blueprint for the new administration and Congress.
The “Secular Agenda for the 117th Congress & Biden Administration” includes strengthening and supporting the Congressional Freethought Caucus, repealing harmful executive orders, supporting the nomination and appointments of judges and other government officials who adhere to and actively promote and prioritize the separation of religion and government, and a slew of legislative priorities. These include the Do No Harm Act, the Scientific Integrity Act and the CORE Act.
“We are excited to put forth this ambitious plan for the new administration and Congress,” states Casey Brinck, director of policy and government affairs for the Secular Coalition for America. “As we move forward into the first session of the 117th Congress, we can expect a flurry of legislative actions to be undertaken, and want not only our community to understand what we are working for on their behalf, but also for Congress and the new administration to have a better understanding of what our very large and quickly growing constituency expects of them.”
The Freedom From Religion Foundation fully concurs.
“Our partnership with the Congressional Freethought Caucus has allowed us to advance the secular agenda in ways once unimaginable,” says FFRF Director of Governmental Affairs Mark Dann. “By coordinating with members of the caucus and their staff, we have been able to fight back against the erosion of the wall that separates religion and government and elevate the discussion of our common secular values in Congress. The entire coalition is thankful for the work the Congressional Freethought Caucus does, and we are excited to continue to work with it in the 117th Congress.”
Other secular groups agree.
“We have made significant progress during the past few Congresses on many of our legislative priorities, and we look forward to seeing them pass the finish line in the 117th,” Rachel Deitch, director of policy and social justice for the American Humanist Association, remarks. “While there still will be a difficult fight in Congress, bills like the Do No Harm Act have consistently gained support over the past few years, and we believe now is the time to see them on President-elect Biden’s desk.”
The coalition will also be working to strengthen and aid the Congressional Freethought Caucus in its mission to promote public policy formed on the basis of reason, science, and moral values, while opposing discrimination against atheists, agnostics, humanists, seekers, religious and nonreligious persons.
The 19 member organizations that make up the Secular Coalition for America will, in addition, be working to repeal the numerous harmful executive orders issued over the past four years. Listed in the agenda, too, are Trump administration commissions that have been utilized to blur the lines between religion and government and advance the Christian Nationalist agenda. These include the Religious Liberty Task Force, which is dedicated to allowing religious institutions and individuals to continue to receive special treatment under the law, and the Commission on Unalienable Rights, led by well-known Christian Nationalist ally and current Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
“The Trump Administration has used constitutionally suspect regulations and flagrant misinterpretations of U.S. Supreme Court decisions to promote religion, attack civil rights, and undermine the separation of religion and government,” says Alison Gill, vice president for legal and policy at American Atheists. “We look forward to working with the new administration to reverse these dangerous policies and to restore religious freedom for every American.”
The Center for Inquiry emphasizes the importance of the joint secular agenda.
“The assault on secular values reached an unprecedented level during the Trump administration,” says Jason Lemieux, director of government affairs at the organization. “Trump and his religious extremist allies used every trick in the book to impose Christian nationalism upon every aspect of public life. The secular agenda we’ve presented here is the first step toward true separation of church and state, where the rights of nonbelievers receive equal weight and consideration.”
The Secular Coalition for America and its 19 member organizations look forward to continuing to advance the agenda of restoring the secular nature of our government as guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution — and working with the members of the 117th Congress and the Biden administration to restore true religious freedom for all Americans.