“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
Washington, DC--The Secular Coalition for America will release its Model Secular Policy Guide for legislatures Monday morning on Capitol Hill in two Hill briefings. The "Model" Guide launch events will feature actual runway models.
The Secular Coalition's Policy Guide is a collaboration of the entire nontheistic movement, endorsed by 86 nontheistic, secular and affiliated organizations across the country. The guide covers a multitude of issues affecting secular and nontheistic Americans in public life including health policy, science education, tax exemptions, religiously-based discrimination, and the treatment of nontheists in the military, among others.
The Model Policy Guide is meant to help educate legislators on the views of secular and nontheistic Americans on pertinent issues, and includes historical background and legal precedent. It will be distributed to every office on Capitol Hill, state legislative offices across the country and will also be available on the Coalition's website following the launch events.
Refreshments will include chocolate covered strawberries, light hors d'oeuvres and sparkling cider, and will be served to attendees by runway models
Monday, December 9, 2013
10:30 - 11:30 am
Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2226
Monday, December 9, 2013
2:00 - 3:00 pm
Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room 430
MEDIA ONLY: Contact SCA Communications Manager, Lauren Anderson Youngblood for an advance copy--all advance copies are embargoed until Monday morning at 10:30 am (December 9, 2013).
CONTACT: Lauren Anderson Youngblood, SCA Communications Manager at email@example.com or (202)299-1091 ext. 205, cell (202)630-9725
An interview with author and activist Sikivu Hutchinson
A generation ago a typical humanist group might have been little more than a few older, white men meeting in the basement of a Unitarian church, arguing points of philosophy that have little relevance in the real world. That has changed, as atheist and humanist groups have sprung up in a much wider range of settings, from schools to pubs to workplaces, and as young people, women, people of color, gays and lesbians, and others have helped the notion of personal secularity gain traction in the wider population.
But still, despite this expansion, many would like to see the secular movement experience faster and broader growth in African-American and Latino communities. Dr. Sikivu Hutchinson, a Los Angeles author and secular activist, is one of those working to expand the movement in communities of color. With the authority of churches in those communities very strong, she argues that the secular movement is unlikely to challenge that authority unless it firmly addresses issues of social and economic justice. This message resonates with many—especially among those humanists who see such traditionally liberal issues as being central to humanist ethics—but not with everyone. Some would prefer that the movement focus exclusively on church-state separation and other so-called "culture war" issues, for example, while some atheists even describe themselves as conservative. Below, I chat with Hutchinson about her views on this ongoing discussion.
DN: I attended a recent talk that you gave, and I believe one of the key points you made was that women of color in America have historically gravitated toward religion because it was one of the few institutions that validated their humanity. Could you explain what you mean by that?
SH: In my book, Moral Combat: Black Atheists, Gender Politics, and the Values Wars, I argue that the literature on secularism and gender does not capture the experiences of women of color negotiating racism, sexism, and poverty in historically religious communities. The relative dearth of secular humanist and freethought traditions amongst women of color cannot be separated from the broader context of white supremacy, gender politics, and racial segregation. The writers Nella Larsen and Zora Neale Hurston are generally acknowledged as pioneering twentieth century black women freethinkers. Yet, what few women’s histories of freethought there are celebrate the political influence of prominent nineteenth century white women non-believers, many of whom were suffragists and abolitionists. None contextualize these women’s influence vis-à-vis the race and gender politics that shaped both the feminist and freethought movements. For example, I have yet to see an appraisal that seriously addresses the racism, nativism and xenophobia of forerunning 19th century freethinker Elizabeth Cady Stanton (who used white supremacist imperialist rhetoric touting the intellectual superiority of white women to oppose the 15th amendment granting black men the vote) or the “curious” absence of women of color from freethought movements.
There’s a major problem in any survey of Jews: deciding who is really Jewish, and who gets to decide. Orthodox Jews demand that the mother be Jewish, while more liberal Jewish groups are willing to accept those with a Gentile mother if the father is Jewish.
Jews stopped the practice of converting Gentiles in the fourth century C.E. for a very persuasive reason. At that time, the Roman Empire, having adopted Christianity as the state religion, made conversion to Judaism a criminal offense punishable by death of both the proselytizing Jews and their converts. Such conversions are no longer crimes, but Orthodox Rabbis discourage conversion and many reject would-be converts three times; if they remain adamant in their desire to convert, they are then allowed to begin the conversion process. Different branches of Judaism are more welcoming to those who wish to become Jews, but Orthodox Jews don’t recognize converts to Judaism by other branches.
And then there are Jews with adjectives. I know some Unitarian Jews, Buddhist Jews, and Quaker Jews. Most Jews don’t see such “Judaism plus” as a problem for Jews. I have an adjective, myself: atheist Jew, so some Jews might think of me as a “Jew minus.” However, I’m not such a minority. The Pew Research Center’s landmark new survey of American Jews found that 62 percent say being Jewish is mainly a matter of ancestry and culture, while just 15 percent say it’s a matter of religion. Jews are considerably less religious than the U.S. public as a whole, with 23 percent of Jewish Americans saying they don’t believe in God, compared to only seven percent in the general public.
Even religious Jews are generally not very concerned about the existence of atheist Jews. They reserve their antagonism for Jews with a different adjective: Messianic Jews (Jews for Jesus). Much to the surprise of many Jews, the Pew Survey showed that 34 percent of American Jews think that a person can be Jewish if he or she believes that Jesus is the Messiah. Had I been surveyed, I would have been among those 34 percent. In fact, I think the percentage should be much higher. Ultra-Orthodox Jews have more beliefs in common with Jews for Jesus than with Jews like me. Both sects believe that a Messiah is coming. They differ only on whether it will be his first or second trip to Earth. When my Orthodox uncle died, his family flew his body to Jerusalem for burial because he and a number of other Jews believe that those buried in Jerusalem will be resurrected first when the Messiah comes.