AHA Calls on Obama Administration to End Special Treatment for Religion

The American Humanist Association recently signed on to a letter as an active member of the Coalition Against Religious Discrimination to Cecilia Munoz, the new Director of the Domestic Policy Council in the Obama Administration. The Coalition Against Religious Discrimination (CARD) was formed to oppose efforts, such as the Bush Administration’s Faith-Based Initiative, that further entrench and expand policies that favor involvement by religious organizations in federal programs. This letter asked that Ms. Munoz meet with members of the coalition to discuss the state of secularism in the federal government and the ongoing issue of government sponsored religious discrimination carried out by faith-based aid organizations. We expect to hear from Ms. Munoz in the near future about meeting with the coalition and will continue to oppose faith-based initiatives.

In other legislative news, the AHA also signed on to a letter in February written by the National Coalition for Public Education (NCPE) to Representative John Kline (R-MN), Chairman of the Education and Workforce Committee, opposing the “Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act.” The AHA opposes the funneling of public money to private and religious schools through such mechanisms as tuition tax credits and vouchers. Unfortunately, the “Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act” initially allowed for the expenditure of scarce federal funds on private school vouchers, which often support religious schools that are not bound by the non-discriminatory acceptance policies that apply to America’s public schools. Thankfully, the provisions of the bill that would have allowed for the funding of private schools were changed by Chairman Kline after significant opposition from the NCPE and other advocacy groups.

AHA’s legislative staffer Matthew Bulger has also lobbied several government officials and their staff in early 2012 on legislation that affects the secular and non-theist communities in America, including meeting with Senators Jeff Merkley, Tom Udall, Sherrod Brown, Bob Casey, Patrick Leahy, and Carl Levin. Issues discussed were the AHA’s support of the “Violence Against Women Act” and the opposition of federal funding to religious organizations that discriminate in hiring.

The AHA works on behalf of secular and non-religious Americans by issuing action alerts about upcoming legislation, directly lobbying government officials and their staff, and through participation in several coalitions that work to ensure church-state separation and the implementation of humanist values in public policy. Support the American Humanist Association’s lobbying work with a donation today.