July 1, 2009
"As a long-time supporter of the Secular Coalition for America, I'm pleased to join their ranks," said Ed Buckner, president of American Atheists. "We look forward to cooperating with like-minded organizations and friendly competitors to defend the rights of nontheists and the total separation of church and state…"
Other member organizations of the SCA include the American Ethical Union, the American Humanist Association, Atheist Alliance International, the Freedom from Religion Foundation, Camp Quest, the Institute for Humanist Studies, the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers, the Secular Student Alliance, and the Society for Humanistic Judaism.
The Center for Inquiry has launched a campaign for free expression-particularly religious expression-that aims to increase public awareness of threats to freedom of expression, to discuss and develop plans to prevent curtailment of free expression, and to demonstrate that people care about their rights to free expression and are eager to exercise them.
In order the accomplish these goals, CFI has announced plans for a student essay contest, a cartoon contest, sponsorship of International Blasphemy Day (September 30, 2009), the launch of a new website (www.pleaseblock.us) that will report on recent censorship attempts, and a petition drive to oppose suppression of speech that's critical of religion, among other initiatives.
CFI reported it decided to launch the campaign after being disturbed by efforts worldwide to limit speech that is critical of religion, including an adoption by the United Nations' Human Rights Council of resolutions that condemn "defamation" of religion and efforts by some Western European countries to enact laws that would ban religiously offensive speech.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation has recently put up a 14 x48-foot billboard featuring the slogan "Imagine No Religion" on I-20 in Talladega, Alabama. It's reported to be the first billboard of its kind in Alabama, and is part of FFRF's national educational campaign that will encourage people to place their energies in making this life better rather than investing in a supposed afterlife.
The billboard will run in conjunction with the annual Glorious 4th celebration that's sponsored by the Alabama Freethought Association, a chapter of FFRF. The event will be held July 3-5 at a freethought "advance," and in the past has attracted as many as 200 freethinkers from across the United States. Speakers will include Joann Bell, director of the ACLU of Oklahoma, and Steve Benson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist for the Arizona Republic, among others.
FFRF has placed billboards in 26 cities since 2007 and is planning a national bus sign campaign. It's one of many groups, including the American Humanist Association, United Coalition of Reason, and Freethought Action, that has launched such billboard and bus campaigns.
The Humanist Magazine has recently hit newsstands with a new issue that includes a special report titled "Has Torture Become Sacred?" which explores ticking time-bomb scenarios, human rights, and the law from a humanist perspective, and answers the question why Democrats and Republicans alike aren't pushing to prosecute crafters of the torture program.
The new issue was released the same week the American Humanist Association launched efforts to demand accountability for torture, which included participation in Torture Accountability Action Day in Washington, D.C.
The Secular Coalition for America welcomes Sean Faircloth as its new executive director. Faircloth is a former official in the Maine Legislature, where he served for a decade, and has been a long-time proponent of separation of church and state.
"It's a privilege to work for an organization so in line with my beliefs," said Faircloth. "I've witnessed the very real harm that can occur when Enlightenment principles of reason are abandoned and secular government is undermined. I look forward to representing the Secular Coalition in standing up for the rights of the millions of nontheists in America."