May 2, 2017 - 1:13 pm

This weekend marked the first 100 days of Donald Trump's presidency, but I want to tell you what we at the Secular Coalition for America have accomplished in the past 100 days as your political voice in Washington.

Pictured above are the freshman members of the 115th Congress. We promised you that we would meet with every single one of them. And we did. As a result, we conveyed our message, turned some heads, and changed some hearts and minds.

On many occasions, and in both Democratic and Republican offices, when we presented our vision of religious freedom in a secular America, senior congressional staffers said they "never thought about it that way before." Many staffers said they didn't even know that a secular community existed until they met with us. Some even committed to having conversations with their boss and their communications team about how they can use language that is inclusive of the secular community when publicly discussing faith and religious freedom.

As a result of our work, every freshman member of Congress knows that secular Americans have a voice in Washington.

But we didn't stop there. Together with our member organizations, partners, and allies, we met with key lawmakers on the powerful House Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees to advocate for the Johnson Amendment, which keeps all nonprofits - including churches - from meddling in elections and engaging in partisan politics at the taxpayers' expense.

We are working more closely than ever before with our allies to fight back attacks on our secular values from this Congress and the Trump Administration. But our most important partner in this fight is you.

In just the first four months of 2017 alone, our supporters have sent more than 30,000 letters to members of Congress. To give you perspective, that is more than you sent in all of 2016.

And that's not all. In the last two months, we sent 185 district-tailored town hall alerts, empowering our supporters to get six members of Congress to go on the record about the Johnson Amendment.

Trust me when I say that I know these last 100 days have not been easy. We've seen the Trump Administration elevate members of the religious right to the highest levels of power, heard the President publicly vow to "totally destroy" the Johnson Amendment, saw the reinstatement of the disastrous global gag rule, the decree of not one, but two, unconstitutional travel bans, the confirmation of a religious zealot to the Supreme Court, and now we're hearing alarming rumors of a "religious freedom" executive order that's on the way.

We fulfilled our 100-day pledge to you, but we're not stopping to celebrate. Instead, we're asking you to give us the resources we need to build on this momentum and continue fighting back. I'm proud of what we've accomplished over the past 100 days, but you and I both know this is only the beginning. There are going to be many more tough fights ahead and we need to be ready for every single one of them.

We're up to the challenge. Are you?

Larry T. Decker, 

Executive Director

 

 

March 3, 2017 - 10:55 am

It's time to set the record straight: The Trump Administration doesn't have a damn clue what religious freedom means. That's exactly what I said during an interview with the New Republic a few weeks ago and I'm not backing down from those remarks. The reality is that we're facing an administration which, along with many members of Congress, is determined to push an agenda of radical religious privilege on a scale we haven't seen in generations.

Just this past weekend, a senior official on President Trump's transition team said the White House is still planning to issue a "religious freedom" executive order, similar to the one that leaked just a few weeks ago. This is a wrecking ball aimed at the wall of separation between church and state, allowing for taxpayer-funded discrimination against same-sex couples, single mothers, and transgender persons. It is almost impossible to overstate the damage that would be done by such an executive order.

The Secular Coalition for America is the first, last, and best line of defense for our secular government. In just the first two months of 2017, the Secular Coalition for America:

  • Gave secular Americans a voice in major media outlets by sounding the alarm about President Trump's Supreme Court nominee and his pledge to "destroy" the Johnson Amendment. Our quotes were featured on CNNthe Hillthe Washington Post, and Religion News Service.
  • Sent more than 20,000 letters to lawmakers across the country. To give you perspective, we sent about 30,000 letters throughout all of 2016.
  • Began meeting with freshman members of Congress on Capitol Hill as part of our 100 Day pledge to our supporters. By April 30th, we will have met with all 55 new members of the 115th Congress.
  • Submitted questions for members of the Senate to ask President Trump's most controversial cabinet nominees during their confirmation hearings, including Betsy DeVos, Sen. Jeff Sessions, Scott Pruitt, Ben Carson, and Rep. Tom Price.
  • For the third consecutive year, worked to secure the introduction of a Darwin Day resolution in the Senate, which affirms the scientific consensus behind evolution and climate change.
  • Took part in the historic Women's March on Washington as an official sponsor. We joined millions of people across the world in standing up for women's rights, LGBT equality, and against religious bigotry.

Everything we have accomplished is only possible because of your support. The Trump Administration and their accomplices in Congress have shown they're ready to do everything it takes to advance the religious right's discriminatory and destructive agenda. We have to do everything we can to stop them.

I could not be prouder of what we've accomplished in just the first two months of 2017 but winning this fight requires building on our momentum. I'm not backing down from my remarks about President Trump, I'm not going to stop calling out the religious right, and I'm not going to stop fighting to keep religion and government separate.

Can I count on you to do the same?

Sincerely,

Larry T. Decker
Executive Director


 

February 14, 2017 - 2:51 pm

It's no secret that we at the Secular Coalition for America love our supporters. Truth be told, we brag about how amazing you are at every opportunity we have. Just recently, during an interview I did for CNN, I said that I knew our supporters will rise to face whatever challenge the Trump Administration throws at us because of the flood of support we've received since the election. In the face of adversity, secular Americans showed courage and a readiness to do whatever was needed to defend true religious freedom. It was an inspiring moment for all of us at the Secular Coalition and today, on Valentine's Day, I wanted to let you know how much you mean to us.

One of the perks of fighting for a good cause is that it puts you in great company. In the year that I've spent as the Executive Director of the Secular Coalition for America, meeting and talking with our supporters has introduced me to more amazing people than I could have hoped to meet in a lifetime. These are everyday people whose secular values drive them to make an extraordinary impact in their communities, their states, and even in Congress.

I've spent 20 years working in Washington, DC, and I can say, wholeheartedly, that fighting for secular Americans will be most the important work I ever do.

That's why a few weeks ago, I announced that we would be meeting with every new member of the 115th Congress. As your voice on Capitol Hill, we're going to make sure that lawmakers know if they want to push their religious beliefs on you, they'll have to go through us first!

You've always been there when we needed you. Whether it's contacting your members of Congress, volunteering with your state chapter, attending our annual Lobby Day in DC, or supporting our work with monthly donations, you're always there to fight for what's right. Already in 2017, you've sent more than 10,000 letters, emails, and phone calls to Congress. You better bet that action was noticed!

I'm proud to work for the Secular Coalition because of our mission, our staff, and most of all, because of you and everything you've done to build us into the organization we are today. From all of us here at the Secular Coalition, thank you for your passion, your dedication, and your support.

Happy Valentine's Day,

Larry T. Decker

Executive Director

January 26, 2017 - 4:20 pm

The stakes for 2017 are as high as they've ever been. The Trump Administration and the 115th Congress have already begun to chip away at everything from reproductive rights, to the integrity of our scientific institutions, and even the separation of church and state itself.

As a supporter of the Secular Coalition for America, you deserve to know how we're fighting back. We've stepped up our advocacy to confront the unprecedented challenges presented by the new Congress and the Trump Administration. In just the first few weeks of 2017 we:

  • Submitted questions for members of the Senate to ask President Trump's most controversial cabinet nominees during their confirmation hearings, including Betsy DeVos, Sen. Jeff Sessions, Scott Pruitt, Ben Carson, and Rep. Tom Price.
  • Took part in the historic Women's March on Washington! As an official sponsor, we joined millions of people across the world in standing up for women's rights, LGBT equality, and against religious bigotry.  
  • Empowered secular Americans to send more than 10,400 letters to their members of Congress. To give you perspective, we sent a total of 30,000 letters throughout all of 2016. Less than a month into 2017, secular Americans are using our tools to contact lawmakers at a record-setting pace.We hit the ground running in 2017 and we're just getting started. We want you to know we're hard at work fighting for you in our nation's capitol. That's why the Secular Coalition for America is making this 100-Day pledge to you.

By April 30th, we will have met with all 55 new members of Congress. These meetings will ensure that freshman members of Congress know that secular Americans have a voice on Capitol Hill ready to hold them accountable. In addition to the new members of Congress, we will also hold meetings with key congressional leaders from both parties. These face-to-face meetings are an opportunity to educate members of Congress about their nontheist constituents, build vital working relationships with lawmakers, and discuss policy and legislation impacting our secular government.  

In this rapidly changing political climate we can't afford to wait to take action. When the 115th Congress and the Trump Administration push their religious beliefs onto us, we need to be ready to push back. Our 100-Day pledge is only the first step of an aggressive plan to combat the religious right's agenda, but we need your support to sustain this momentum. We're taking action right from the start - and we're counting on you to do the same.

Sincerely,

Larry T. Decker, Executive Director 

December 28, 2016 - 1:55 pm

Tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of my joining the Secular Coalition for America as its Executive Director. In the letter I wrote introducing myself I said, "I am here to lead the fight against the wave of religious privilege sweeping across the country. I know that with your support and activism, the Secular Coalition is our best chance to turn the tide."

It's been almost a full year since I wrote those words and they are as true today as they were then. The Secular Coalition for America is still the best chance we have to stop the incoming Congress and Trump Administration from knocking down the wall of separation between religion and state. The stakes are as high as they've ever been. 

That's why from now until the end of the year, I will personally match every donation made to the Secular Coalition for America up to $20,000. You read that correctly. Whatever you give from now until December 31st, I will use my own money to double it.

I'm doing this because I believe in the work we do, I believe in the Secular Coalition's mission, I believe in its staff, and above all else, I believe in its supporters. This past year the Secular Coalition for America:

  • Hosted the first ever Secular Caucus at the Texas Democratic Convention. This was the first time a secular organization has ever held an official caucus at a major party's convention.
  • At that same convention, we succeeded in getting three policy resolutions adopted into the Texas Democratic party's official platform. They include a resolution calling for secular reproductive health policies, closing religious loopholes in child welfare laws, and striking the discriminatory ban on atheists holding office from the Texas state constitution.
  • Held a reception for secular delegates and attendees at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
  • Partnered with Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) to help secure the introduction of a Darwin Day Resolution in the Senate. 
  • Led more than 300 nonreligious Americans into meetings with two-thirds of Congressional offices on Capitol Hill, where we lobbied to stop tax dollars from funding junk science, abstinence-only education and advocated for funding evidence-based sex-education in our public schools.
  • Organized lobby days for state chapters in Arizona, California, and North Carolina.
  • Helped block the discriminatory Russell Amendment from being included in a routine military spending bill. Had it passed, the Russell Amendment would have made 28 million employees of federal contractors vulnerable to religiously-based discrimination. 
  • And just last week, the Utah Democratic party approved the creation of the first official Secular Caucus thanks to our advocacy on the ground!

These are not isolated victories, this is the impact made by secular Americans like you supporting our work. As 2017 draws closer, it is essential we have the resources we need to face whatever challenges the incoming Congress and Trump Administration throw at us.

I am not a person of means and I rely on my paycheck to pay my mortgage and other bills. However, I am putting $20,000 on the line because whatever happens, I want to be able to say I did everything I could to fight back. At this pivotal moment, when the stakes have never been greater, please join me in supporting the Secular Coalition for America.

Forward Together, 


Larry T. Decker
Executive Director

 

 

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