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Non-theistic beliefs, spiritual paths, etc.

Non-theistic beliefs: Secular Coalition of
America. About non-theists. Non-theistic info.

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This topic is a continuation from the previous essay
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The Secular Coalition for America (SCA):

The Secular Coalition for America (SCA) is a coalition of "... progressive groups from nontheists and agnostics, to minorities and environmentalists, to Jewish and Christian organizations -- all striving to bring to the table critical thought and rational discussion based on science and reason, rather than dogma and corporate profits."

They represent Agnostics, Apatheists, Atheists, brights, freethinkers, Humanists, naturalists, rationalists, secularists, and skeptics, as well as individual nontheists from religious denominations like the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations and the Society of Friends.

During 2000-FEB, Herb Silverman, a Distinguished Professor of Mathematics at the College of Charleston, SC, persuaded a number of national Agnostic, Atheist, freethinking and humanist groups to meet together to find methods of cooperating in joint action. The leaders of these groups met during 2000 to 2003 as the "Coalition for the Community of Reason."

They crafted a position statement for their future coalition:

"The Secular Coalition is committed to promoting reason and science as the most reliable methods for understanding the universe and improving the human condition. Informed by experience and inspired by compassion, we encourage the pursuit of knowledge, meaning, and responsible ethical codes without reference to supernatural forces. We affirm the secular form of government as a necessary condition for the interdependent rights of religious freedom and religious dissent. We come together as national freethought organizations to cooperate in areas of mutual interest and to support each other in our efforts to uphold separation between government and religion for the benefit of all within the nontheistic community. As resources allow, we will actively cooperate in projects that support our position, with priority given to political action initiatives and public relations opportunities." 1

On 2003-NOV-03, the morning after the Godless Americans March on Washington, leaders of three 501(c)3 organizations met in that city to start the process of founding the Secular Coalition of America. The groups were the Atheist Alliance International, Institute for Humanist Studies and the Internet infidels. They decided that the Coalition would be registered as a 501(c)4 advocacy organization. This would permit unlimited lobbying of government -- a practice forbidden to the 501(c)3 groups that formed the coalition.

A few highlights from their history:

  • 2002: The SCA received a corporate charter from the state of Nevada.

  • 2003: The SCA registered their bylaws.

  • 2005: They obtained an employee ID number from the IRS. Their office was opened in Washington, DC. Lori Lipman Brown, a former Nevada State Senator, was hired as director and lobbyist. Associate Director Ron Millar was hired as legislative associate.

  • 2006: The SCA published their first Congressional Scorecard that graded federal officials according to their voting history.

  • 2007: The SCA was the first nontheist group to be admitted to the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights.

  • 2008: The SCA held its first Lobby Day. They launched a Secular Values Voter Website to provide information to voters.

  • 2009: Their staff totaled 5 persons. Their office relocated to K Street in Washington DC. With the election of President Obama, and the administration's more inclusive philosophy, the SCA began participating in meetings with White House staff. After almost a decade of participation, the Internet Infidels resigned from the coalition to devote their full time to their Internet activities. 2

Included in the coalition, as of late 2010, are: American Atheists, American Ethical Union, American Humanist Association, Atheist Alliance International, Camp Quest, Council for Secular Humanism, Institute for Humanist Studies, Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers, Secular Student Alliance, Society for Humanistic Judaism.

There are also about 30 endorsing organizations -- separate groups that have endorsed the mission of the SCA. They range from the Anti-Discrimination Support Network to the Washington Area Secular Humanists (WASH). 3

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About non-theists:

Many Agnostics, Atheists, Humanists and other non-theists have a negative attitude towards traditional formal religions. Some feel that:

bulletReliance on an interaction with a mythical deity interferes with one's ability to interact with fellow humans.

bulletReliance on God's will, and expectations of an eternity spent in Heaven reduce our motivation to solve our own problems on earth. This leads to people neglect many social evils.

bullet Theistic religions frequently promote the idea that perfectly natural feelings (such as anger, lust, pride, sexual attraction, wanting things) are evil and sinful. However, feelings are not normally under one's conscious control. The result can be debilitating feelings of guilt where none are justified.

bullet Traditional beliefs are often supported by fear of eternal punishment after death and by fear of retaliation by an angry and vengeful god during this lifetime. To live in such a state of fear is emotionally unhealthy and debilitating.

According to a study by Barna Research:

"... roughly 7% of the adult population - approximately 14 million people - describe themselves as atheistic or agnostic. America has more atheists and agnostics than Mormons (by a 3 to 1 margin), Jews (by a 4 to 1 margin) or Muslims (by a 14 to 1 margin)." 4

They further found most atheists and agnostics in the U.S. are primarily:

bullet white (71%),
bullet male (64%), 
bulletadults under 35 (51%), 
bulletresidents of the Northeast and West (56%)." 

In at least one area of life, they exhibit strong "family values". According to Barna Research, they have one of the lowest (if not the lowest) divorce rate of any religious group -- much lower than for conservative Christians, for example. They also are underrepresented as inmates in prisons.

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Interesting books and websites about Agnosticism, Atheism, and Humanism:

bullet The SecularWeb® is owned and operated by the Internet Infidels, Inc., a "... nonprofit educational organization dedicated to defending and promoting a naturalistic worldview on the Internet." See: http://www.infidels.org

bullet Luke Korkowski, "The Joy of Unbelief -- A mission to believers." This is a blog that grew out of an essay that Luke posted on Facebook. It was an account of how he journeyed into and later out of the Christian faith. This led to his blog whose purpose is: "To minister to believers of all stripes and share with them the sense of joy, purpose, and freedom that comes from relinquishing belief in the supernatural." We strongly recommend it to both theists and non-theists. See: http://thejoyofunbelief.com/

bulletCorliss Lamont, "A Humanist Wedding Service," Prometheus Books; (1972). A 29 page booklet. Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store.

bulletCorliss Lamont, "A Humanist Funeral Service," Prometheus Books; (1977). A 48 page booklet. Read reviews or order this book.

bullet Victor J. Stenger, "God: The failed hypothesis. How science shows that God does not exist," Prometheus Books; (2008). Read reviews or order this book.

bulletJane Wynne Willson, "Funerals Without God: A Practical Guide to Non-Religious Funerals," Prometheus Books. (1991). Read reviews or order this book.

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References and notes:

  1. The home page of the Secular Coalition of America is at: http://www.secular.org/
  2. "History," Secular Coalition of America, at:http://www.secular.org/
  3. "Endorsing Organizations," Secular Coalition of America, at: http://www.secular.org/
  4. "Atheists and Agnostics Infiltrating Christian Churches," 1999-OCT-15, at: http://www.barna.org/

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Copyright © 1996 to 2012 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Last update and review: 2012-AUG-17
Author: B.A. Robinson

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