“What an amazing night.”The positive online comments keep pouring in!
There were several people in Lincoln today meeting about trying to organise a state chapter of the SCA in Nebraska.Organising people over in Omaha and Lincoln (the state capital) is not too hard, the…Continue
This organization is a very serious threat to a "Secular Nation." These people are using our tax dollars to go into school buildings after hours and teach this garbage to our children! I'm sure…Continue
I live in Southern, Ohio and the Bible-Belt runs strong through the hills in our community. I frequent many city council meetings because of the corruption that has been within our tiny city for…Continue
I could not have had a more patriotic beginning. I was born on Flag Day (June 14) in 1942, during World War II, at Liberty Hospital in Philadelphia, birthplace of the nation and the flag purportedly designed by Betsy Ross. My first public speech was at a fourth grade Flag Day ceremony. I had been chosen to read my essay, “What the American Flag Means to Me.” I wrote about looking at the flag when “The Star-Spangled Banner” was sung at major league baseball games, hoping I would one day be a player on that field. I’m pretty sure my essay was picked because I happened to mention Flag Day was my birthday. Or maybe the other essays were even worse.
My views on patriotism in general and Flag Day in particular have changed considerably over the years. The anniversary of my birth has become a day when opportunistic politicians periodically attempt to take away freedoms for which our flag is supposed to stand. On my twelfth birthday, President Eisenhower signed into law the addition of “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance, saying, “From this day forward, the millions of our schoolchildren will daily proclaim in every city and town, every village and rural schoolhouse, the dedication of our nation and our people to the Almighty.”
President Eisenhower made no mention of the Constitution during this 1954 Flag Day ceremony, perhaps because the Constitution, which is dedicated to “We the People,” prohibits religious tests for public office and makes no mention of any almighties. This melding of God and country, turning a secular pledge into a religious one, only resulted in my feeling less patriotic when I no longer believed we were under any gods.
The Pledge is not simply a passive reference to religion. It calls on every child in public school to affirm that our country believes in God. No child should go to school each day and have the class declare that her religious beliefs are wrong in an exercise that portrays her family as less patriotic than God-believers.
We once had a fine pledge written in 1892, slightly modified in 1923, and recited without controversy for decades. So why in 1954 were the words “under God” added? Almost certainly because it was the time of the shameful McCarthy era, when pandering or fearful politicians wanted to distinguish themselves from the atheistic Communism of the Soviet Union by creating a holy Cold War. Of course, a government that feels entitled to tell its citizens that they are one nation under God can also feel entitled to tell its citizens that they are one nation under no gods, as the Soviet Union did. Clearly, our secular government began, and must remain, neutral about religion.
Continue reading at the Washington Post.
Though it didn’t make many headlines, a legislative showdown on Capitol Hill last week can be seen as the latest development in the so-called culture wars. On the surface it would appear that this particular battle was won by religious conservatives, but a closer look shows otherwise.
The legislation in question would have allowed nonreligious chaplains in the military, a proposal that sponsor Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) said was designed to serve the large segment of America’s military (almost 25%) that is nonreligious. Currently, chaplains must be appointed by religious organizations such as the Catholic Church, but Polis said this unnecessarily excludes those who are "secular humanists and ethical culturists or atheists" and that nonreligious chaplains are needed to support the "brave (nonreligious) men and women who serve in the military."
Some have suggested that secular military personnel in need of chaplain services should opt instead for secular counseling services, but Polis pointed out that the chaplaincy option has definite advantages. “When someone (in the military) sees a psychologist, psychiatrist, or counselor, it has a certain stigma that can be attached to it that doesn’t exists when you’re seeing a chaplain,” he said. “It doesn’t enjoy the same confidentiality that a chaplain visit does.”
The Polis bill was defeated, 150-274, with every House Republican voting against it. This may seem like a defeat for seculars, but such a view would be shortsighted. The fact that a bill specifically recognizing and benefiting atheists-humanists was put forward at all, and then garnered the support of 150 members of Congress, is itself significant, something that would have been highly unlikely just a few years ago, and it demonstrates the progress that the secular movement has made.
Continue reading at Psychology Today.
Washington, DC--The Secular Coalition for America today applauded the 150 member of Congress who voted in support of an amendment to allow nontheistic chaplains in the U.S. Armed Forces. The amendment, which was voted on today by the full House was sponsored by Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO).
Polis' amendment was defeated today in a 150-274 vote. All House Republicans voted against it, as did 44 Democrats.
Secular Coalition for America Executive Director, Edwina Rogers said that while nontheists still have a long way to go in issues of full equality, the community is continuing to make significant inroads.
“We are thankful to allof the Congress members who voted in support of nontheist military chaplains, especially Rep. Polis and Andrews, who sponsored the amendments,” said Rogers. “Despite that the amendment failed, we were heartened to see that a full third of the House voted in support—and are pleased that our issues are being more widely supported and are being seriously addressed.”
Rep. Polis offered his amendment to the full House today after a similar amendment, sponsored by Rep. Robert Andrews (D-NJ) to allow nontheistic chaplains in the U.S. Armed Forces was defeated last week in the House Armed Services Committee in a 43-18 vote.
Andrews’ sponsored the amendment at the Secular Coalition’s suggestion and helped the representative’s office draft the bill.
“Chaplains for nontheistic military service members are absolutely crucial for so many men and women who are serving our country,” said Edwina Rogers, executive director of the Secular Coalition for America. “Religious chaplains are ill equipped to handle the problems of nontheistic service members and unfortunately, seeking psychiatric help can stigmatize a service member for the rest of their career.”
Atheists and the “nones” in the military face the same emotional and ethical challenges that the chaplaincy program exists to mollify. Nontheists deal with the same questions about life and death, and fear, and loss the same as a religious individual, and can benefit from discussing such topics with a chaplain who understands their perspective the same as a religious individual can.
Military psychiatrists and counselors are an inadequate substitution for chaplains:
The religious make-up of the military chaplaincy is drastically different then the religious demographics of the military. Although only 18 percent of all Department of Defense personnel are evangelistic, nearly 63 percent of all chaplains are evangelistic. Additionally, the proportion of Jewish chaplains in the military is over three times the proportion of Jewish member of the military.
While atheists outnumber Hindus, Muslims and Jews in the armed services, all of whom have chaplains for their respected religions, atheists do not have a single chaplain.
“Military members sacrifice for all Americans—they fight of all of us regardless of our personal religious beliefs or lack thereof,” Rogers said. “So why then should they be discriminated against on the basis of their beliefs? All they are asking for are the same accommodations made to other service members and they absolutely deserve it.”
CONTACT: Lauren Anderson Youngblood, SCA Communications Manager at email@example.com or (202)299-1091 ext. 205, cell (202)630-9725