Fellows: Live and On Stage in 2016

SPI Fellow David Sloan Wilson, the SUNY Distinguished Professor of Biology and Anthropology at Binghamton University and President of the Evolution Institute, will present a lecture at George Mason University at F.A. the Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics. Hosted by the economist Peter Boettke, the February 11 speech is titled, Updating Hayek on Cultural Group Selection.

Friedrich Hayek was far ahead of his time when he wrote about economic systems as products of cultural group selection. Unsurprisingly, his views require considerable updating based on subsequent developments, especially during the last two decades. I will provide an overview of modern cultural multilevel selection theory and its implications for economic theory and practice.

Biographical sketch: David Sloan Wilson is trained as an evolutionary biologist, was among a small group of heretics championing group selection in the 1970’s, and remains a leading authority on the subject. He is (https://evolution-institute.org), which formulates public policy from a modern evolutionary perspective. He is Biology Editor of the Journal of Bioeconomics and co-edited a 2013 special issue of the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization titled “Evolution as a General Theoretical Framework for Economics and Public Policy”, which includes an article co-authored with Elinor Ostrom titled “Generalizing the Core Design Principles for the Efficacy of Groups”. His latest book, Does Altruism Exist? Culture, Genes, and the Welfare of Others, was published by Yale University Press and Templeton Press in 2015.

The event isn’t up yet, but you can most likely find it soon at┬áThe F.A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in PPE on Facebook.

SPI Fellow Elizabeth Loftus will speak in April in Long Beach, California at the Western Psychological Association Convention, and SPI Fellow Marty Klein will speak in 2016 in:

  • Las Vegas, Nevada,
  • Menlo Park, California,
  • Austin, Texas,
  • Skokie, Illinois,
  • Mountain View, California,
  • New York, New York,
  • Chicago, Illinois,
  • Ireland,
  • Palo Alto, California,
  • Redding, California, and
  • Phoenix, Arizona

steve-hill-lectureSPI Advocate Steve Hill┬áwill host Steve Hill’s 47% Comedy Show: Comedy for the Middle Class, Saturday, January 16 in Palmdale, CA. It’s a huge fundraiser for Vital Intervention and Directional Alternatives (VIDA), a structured 16-week program for non-violent, at-risk youth. The no excuses, unreverent, Black Atheist, community activist, and 2016 candidate running for the California 21st Senatorial District calls the 501.C.3 nonprofit group one of his favorite charities in LA County.

Learn more about the VIDA cause, meet the candidate, meet like-minded individuals and to get your laugh on for 2016. The event will also be featuring gut busting Comedy View, Fox and New York Comedy Festival’s DAVE DeLUCA and Headliner ROD ROGER. Hair raising Roger is known on “White Boyz in the Hood”, “Bad Boys of Comedy”, Who’s Got Jokes?” and many appearances on “ComicView”, The Improv, Comedy Store and the Laugh Factory! In Los Angeles County many kids lack safe, healthy programs that allow them to develop their life skills and work toward attaining their long term goals.

Steve Hill ticket. January comedy night event _n

Coalition: The Tree of Knowledge and Thomas Paine Day

The weekly report on the SPI coalition
by Johnny Monsarrat

Freethought Society LogoThis week we focus on SPI coalition┬ágroup┬áThe Freethought Society, a major national secular group in the United States led by Margaret Downey. The group runs an amazing array of activities, including free speech zones, community service programs, street fair outreach, secular occasion events, a speakers’ bureau, diversity outreach, student outreach, a newsletter, and seemingly dozens of other┬áprojects. Wow, Margaret Downey, when do you sleep?

Previously we reported on their good work protesting public schools that allow the Boy Scouts to recruit on site, even though the Scouts discriminates against boys who don’t believe in God.

The group is taking donations to help them staff two tables at the Reason Rally in Washington DC in June.

FSGP_treeOne table will promote the Tree of Knowledge, an alternative winter holiday symbol created by the Freethought Society in 2007. When local┬ágovernments allow religious groups to display Christmas trees, baby Jesus mangers, and menorahs in the town hall or in public parks, nonbelievers should get a presence, too. Margaret and the Tree of Knowledge were recently featured in a USA Today article,┬áWaging Peace on Christmas. They┬áare trying to establish the Tree of Knowledge in the US┬áNortheast┬áand beyond as an established and accepted symbol of nonbelief. The more it is known the easier their court battles will be to have it included. Read more about it in the Freethought Society’s Tree of Knowledge Report.

The second table will promote the┬áThomas Paine Foundation/Memorial Committee. Thomas Paine was an 18th century American revolutionary and friend of Benjamin Franklin who wrote Common Sense and┬áAge of Reason. As one of the earliest and most famous advocates for rational thinking, he is celebrated widely in the secular community. Now the Freethought Society’s foundation and committee is promoting Paine’s celebrity and works to the wider world.

Margaret-portrait-2011-1_pp-240x300They celebrate his birthday on January 29, are working to erect a statue with a world-famous sculptor, creating a coloring book for children, and a compilation of Thomas Paine’s original music. They also present Thomas Paine to grade schools at special assemblies. Learn how you can donate or get involved with the Thomas Paine efforts.

A good place to get started is to join the Freethought Society discussion on Yahoo or Facebook, or to contact Margaret directly at margaret@ftsociety.org.




Fellows: Evolutionary Theory in Democracy and the Weak Spot of ISIS

The weekly report on the SPI Fellows
by Johnny Monsarrat

This week we feature two of our SPI fellows, experts in Middle East public policy and creative uses for evolutionary theory to study democracy and the cultural transmission of cooking practices.
baram-bigpicSPI Fellow┬áAmatzia Baram is Professor of┬áMiddle Eastern History at the University of Haifa, Israel. He recently wrote that ISIS must be defeated financially, because they are the “richest Islamic terrorist organization in history, richer even than the dreaded Assassins of Alamut Mountain, who terrorized the Islamic world and the Crusaders between the 11th and 13th centuries.” He also wrote that ISIS, a large entity, can be defeated┬áone tribe at a time. He supports Turkish gas independence from Russia, which a gas pipeline through Northern Iraq may facilitate.

He contributed to the SPI World Future Guide 2016 his thoughts on dictatorship vs. theocracy. Which is worse? How are they different? And he is the author of the 2014 book, Saddam Husayn and Islam, 1968-2003: Ba`thi Iraq from Secularism to Faith.

SPI Fellow Patrik Lindenfors is┬áAssociate Professor of Zoological Ecology at Stockholm University in Sweden. In 2015 he published several papers, including how evolutionary theory affects the study of democracy, how cooking is passed culturally from one generation to the next, another paper on cultural transmission of cooking, and how women’s rights affect a developing country’s transition to democracy, in┬áNo Democratic Transition Without Women’s Rights: A Global Sequence Analysis 1900-2012.

He contributed to the SPI World Future Guide 2016 his thoughts on religion’s role in health, which while historically┬áfraudulent can sometimes be effective.

Iowa and New Hampshire: The Influence of the Secular Vote

The weekly report on the statistics of secularism
by Jordan Auburn

voteflagcrossIn the American system there are only two main political parties,┬áthe Democratics and the Republicans, and each will need to choose a single candidate for the 2016 US presidential election. This is done by having each state vote, in┬áa series of “caucuses and primaries”. The first states to vote are especially important, because they show the momentum of each candidate. It’s a test of strength that may indicate how these candidates will do nationwide, influencing campaign contributors, volunteers, media attention, and more.

The first of these statewide contests will be in Iowa (caucus) on February 1st, and New Hampshire (primary) on February 9th. Unexpectedly, secular voters could set the tone.

The declining religiosity of the USA

pray-vote-tshirtResearch conducted by Pew Research Center in 2015 demonstrated the oft-quoted sharp drop in religiosity in the USA, with the religiously unaffiliated rising from 16% to 22% between 2007 and 2014. Indeed, according to further research by Pew, the millennial generation (those aged 18-33) is ÔÇ£certain to become a growing share of the electorateÔÇØ: from 25.5% in 2013 to 36.5% by 2020. Millennials are consistently shown to be the most secular, and so this growing share will likely contribute to an overall decline in national religiosity. As the SPIÔÇÖs Johnny Monsarrat noted in our Secular Resource Guide, ÔÇ£that is a powerful voting blocÔÇØ. But what impact might this have over the Iowan caucus and New Hampshire primary?

Iowa GOP: Will religion define the vote?

Iowa is religiously conservative. A Pew research paper has shown that at least 83% of Iowans are ÔÇÿabsolutelyÔÇÖ or ÔÇÿfairlyÔÇÖ certain of the existence of God. The secular vote therefore had a limited impact in the 2012 GOP caucus, with Rick Santorum, a devout Roman Catholic who espouses Intelligent Design, winning. Therefore, the most likely outcome of the Ohioan caucus is defeat for Donald Trump, who has had trouble wooing the fervently religious demographic, and victory for Cruz (a Southern Baptist) or Carson (a Seventh-day Adventist). Nevertheless, the caucus provides the GOPs with an opportunity to prove, to some extent, that their votes are contingent on policy, rather than animosity towards nonbelievers.

New Hampshire GOP: Secular sway for Trump

gallup-poll-new-england-religiousA Gallup poll taken in 2014 placed New Hampshire as the second least religious state in the USA, which offers the secular bloc a chance to demonstrate its sway. This points to potential success for Trump, who is notably less religious than Iowan frontrunner Cruz. And why is New Hampshire, according to Republican strategist Alex Castellanos, a more likely hunting ground for the business magnate? ÔÇ£New Hampshire is more secular,ÔÇØ says Castellanos. Indeed, given that the eventual Republican nominee has held New Hampshire all but three times since 1952, the secular vote is set to be significant. The early states matter.

Iowa Democrat: A hold for Clinton

Yet the largest secular impact may come from the blue side. After all, according to this Pew Research study taken in 2012, Democrats are consistently polled as being less religious than their Republican opponents. (All ten of the least religious states, as rated by Gallup, voted Democrat in 2012.) It is perhaps unsurprising then, that Ohio looks to be a stronghold for the religiously inclined Clinton and not Sanders, a largely secular Jew.

New Hampshire Democrat: The secular sway

jewish-socialists-for-bernieIn New Hampshire the potential for a secular impact is far greater. Though Clinton has been boosted by BidenÔÇÖs decision to stay off the ballot paper, her lead over Sanders has ping-ponged, with Sanders having polled in front on numerous occasions. The reasons for this are abundant, and his ÔÇ£I am who I amÔÇØ politics, devoid of Super-PAC funding, has certainly played a role. But equally important has been his constitutionally secular outlook, and his extensive period as Senator in the most nonreligious state in the USA, Vermont. We should not underestimate the sway this will have over New HampshireÔÇÖs secular bloc come February 9th.

Declining religiosity points to a more powerful secular voting bloc

As the proportion of religious Americans is reduced, so the secular voting bloc will increase in size. This is simply a matter of natural course. While a New Hampshire win doesnÔÇÖt secure the nomination ÔÇô after all, Obama was elected after losing the Democratic primary in 2008 ÔÇô it does provide the momentum that a political outsider such as Trump could thrive on. And such early momentum is essential to a successful campaign ÔÇô just ask Rudy Guiliani.

Policy: The SPI’s New Secular Leaders League

The weekly report on politics and secularism
by Edwina Rogers

New SPI Chat List for Secular Leaders


Every month, we host an international coordinating phone call for secular leaders, to drive the secular movement and coordinate. Now we want to take it to the next level!

SPI presents the Secular Leaders League, an email discussion list where we can:

  • Trade group email on the secular movement’s future
  • Announce your events and news, your fundraising projects and your successes,
  • Discuss political and community problems needing attention,
  • Announce coalition letters on political issues around the world, and
  • Plan activities including:
    • A global “business plan competition” to coach secular leaders,
    • A donor conference where plans get presented, judged, and funded, and
    • A┬á”Secular Donor Advice Fund” for investment firms like Fidelity where winners can get funding
    • US Congressional briefings and other political meetings internationally

joinUsWe’ll moderate discussion so you won’t get too many emails. You don’t need to run a group to join. It’s open to everyone who agrees with our goal of separation of church and state!

Join the US Secular Leaders League for United States issues and the Global Secular Leaders League for international issues.

Thank you! We’d love to hear your ideas and needs. Together┬áwe’re going to change the world in 2016.

US Presidential Candidate Says Only Prayer Can Save US

US presidential candidate Cruz asked supporters to pray “that the awakening, that the revival that is sweeping this country, that it continue and grow.”┬áOtherwise, he said, “the country every one of us loves will be lost.” according to an ABC News story,

Religion’s Opposition to Gay Rights Still Throws Up Roadblocks

The US Supreme Court legalized gay marriage throughout the nation in 2015, but religions continue to try to dictate morality for those outside their faith. The most common current tactic is to claim that discriminating against┬áLBGTA people is “religious freedom”. The coming battles in 2016 for gay rights are highlighted in an article in The Atlantic,┬áCan States Protect LGBT Rights Without Compromising Religious Freedom?

This Time, Atheist Bloggers Are More Secure

bangladesh-murderersIn 2015 we heard many stories about non-religious bloggers being fined, jailed, or even executed for apostasy — in other words, freedom of speech. Now Bangladesh has convicted the murderers of an atheist blogger. That’s the right direction.

Supreme Court Justice Scalia Says America Can Be Christian Nation

Supreme Court Lecture

Supreme Court Lecture

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is once again raising eyebrows, most recently by claiming the Constitution does not require the government to be neutral on religious matters. According to the Associated Press, Scalia also said that the United States has been blessed because we honor God.

Speaking at a Catholic high school in Louisiana, the conservative justice told attendees that there is “no place” in the constitution for the idea of seperation between church and state. He followed up by saying there was nothing wrong with the President or other government officials evoking God in speeches.

Read more on advocate.com

Britain is No Longer a Christian Country and Should Stop Acting As If It Is, Says Judge

uk-beliefsBritain is no longer a Christian country and should stop acting as if it is, a major inquiry into the place of religion in modern society has concluded, provoking a furious backlash from ministers and the Church of England.

A two-year commission, chaired by the former senior judge Baroness Butler-Sloss and involving leading religious leaders from all faiths, calls for public life in Britain to be systematically de-Christianised.

It says that the decline of churchgoing and the rise of Islam and other faiths mean a “new settlement” is needed for religion in the UK, giving more official influence to non-religious voices and those of non-Christian faiths.

Read the Commission on Religion and Belief in British Public Life Report

Read more on telegraph.co.uk

The Coalition in Australia

The SPI Coalition has 10 members in Australia, enjoying the warm “winter” weather down under. Here’s an introduction!

  • Imaginary Friends Show┬áis a podcast opposing┬áirrational, illogical and dangerous beliefs, frequently with guests.
  • Peninsula Atheists┬áis about to celebrate their 5th anniversary holding monthly meetup events south of Melbourne. A recent event suggested this discussion: let’s stop being negative about religion and talk about positives of nonbelief.
  • Rationalist Association of NSW┬áis more than a century old! Based in the Australian state of New South Wales, which includes Sydney, Canberra, and Newcastle, they run their own bookshop in Sydney and publish a┬ámagazine, The New Liberator.
  • Token Skeptic┬áis a podcast best listened to with Corn Flakes cereal. Popular episodes have been about “wild sex” and “the unholy trinity downunder”.

Fellows: 2015 in Review

This week SPI Fellow Marty Klein reports on Norway’s┬ásolution to a flood of immigrants from the Middle East. They’ll take them, but they need cultural re-education, as Norway is one of the world’s most sexually open countries, and Syria… you know. Read Norway, Immigrants, and Sex Education.

It’s the end cap to a great year for the SPI Fellows. Of course the Fellows contributed research and opinion this year, won awards and spoke publicly in so many ways that we could not track them all, but here are a few of their highlights of 2015:

AmatziaAmatzia Baram gave a report on the state of Lebanon in his article Lebanon’s fragile balance holds amid political paralysis, and contributed to the World Future Guide.

Greg Benford is a multiply award-winning science fiction author whose blog contains poetry about bout life, the universe, and everything. He is faculty of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of California, Irvine.  He is also a contributing editor of Reason magazine, wrote an article about Pluto for Air and Space Magazine, and published an adventure novel, Against Infinity.

Thure Cerling,┬áa professor at┬ágeology, geophysics, and biology at the University of Utah, has found that African mammals’ diets have switched over time.

Elliot Cohen is a philosopher who has written a whopping twenty-five books, including What Would Aristotle Do?: Self-Control Through the Power of Reason and The Theory and Practice of Logic-Based Therapy. He also contributed to the World Future Guide.

Christopher DiCarlo┬áruns the┬áOnion Skin Theory of Knowledge (OSTOK) Project┬áand has pioneered critical thinking in debates including┬áAtheism vs. Christianity.┬áHe is currently working on his latest book tentatively entitled Flying Without a Pilot: A Determined Look at the Future of Ethics, Law, and the Value of Human Behavior.┬á┬áHe is a fellow, adviser, and board member of the Society of Ontario Free Thinkers┬áand the┬áCentre for Inquiry Canada.┬á His latest book entitled: How to Become a Really Good Pain in the Ass: A Critical ThinkerÔÇÖs Guide to Asking the Right Questions has achieved best seller status.

acgrayling2A. C. Grayling spoke to the BBC on┬áThe Meaning of Life According to AJ Ayer, wrote about how religion seems to be growing when it isn’t, was interviewed by the Atheist Debates Patreon Project, gave a speech urging students to have more courage, and contributed to the World Future Guide. He wrote about the Middle East immigration crisis in┬áThe irony of migrancy.

Silvian Ionescu of Romania also contributed to the World Future Guide. He has a Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from Lucian Blaga University and a Ph.D. in Management from the Academy of Economic Sciences in Bucharest. He has also been┬áheavily involved in politics, having spent fifteen years Chief of Service for the Romanian Ministry of the InteriorÔÇÖs Intelligence Department. Recently, he also served as President of┬áthe Democratic Liberal Party for the 3rd District of Bucharest.

Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi contributed to the World Future Guide and gave Middle East policy advice in┬áWhy America Should Aim to ContainÔÇô Rather Than Destroy ÔÇö ISIS.┬á

Mark Juergensmeyer wrote about how cooperating with Iran might help the US defeat ISIS, and offered a poignant perspective on the attacks in Paris in his newly published article, Why ISIS Attacked Paris. He also analyzed the religion of ISIS in What Kind of Islam is That? Talking With Refugees from ISIS. In an interview he spoke about how religion fuels conflict in the Middle East.

John Joseph Kisakye is a professor of biology at the College of Natural Sciences at Makerere University in Ugand, an expert in parasitology and dragonflies,

mklein smiley vest6Marty Klein was the┬ákeynote speaker at the National Sex Education Conference┬áin New Jersey and writes regular articles on sexual freedom including┬áGiving Thanks for Sex; HoweverÔǪ. He also gave Ten Lessons that Humanists Need to Learn about Sex┬áand wrote about the Ashley Madison hacker scandal on why perusing photos online doesn’t necessarily lead to cheating. He also wrote about┬ánine major myths about pornography.

Patrik Lindenfors contributed to the World Future Guide and wrote about Europe’s immigration emergency in┬áRefugees Crisis: Humanists call for a strong and humane EU response.┬áHe has his own blog, but you’ll need a browser that translates if you don’t read Swedish.

Elizabeth Loftus was interviewed by NPR about false memories, gave a TED Talk called How Reliable is Your Memory?,┬áand contributed to the World Future Guide. She was the focus for a Washington Post article on the failing memory of US Presidential candidate Donald Trump. She appeared in┬áan interview that explored the ┬áÔÇ£Religious ExperienceÔÇØ from a neurologist’s perspective.

Manea_460Elham Manea wrote about death sentences for apostasy, wrote about human rights as a universal imperative, and contributed to the World Future Guide. She has been active as the spokesperson for jailed Saudi blogger Raif Badawi. She spoke with former UN special rapporteur, Frank La Rue, in Switzerland, and was appointed by the Swiss Federal Council as a Member of the Federal Commission for Women Affairs. She also wrote to argue for regulation of the religious wearing of a veil.

John McWhorter wrote about why words become taboo┬áincluding┬áWhy ÔÇ£RedskinsÔÇØ Is a Bad Word,┬áand gave advice on racial activists┬áon his CNN post entitled, Note to protesters: Rage wonÔÇÖt work┬áand another,┬áBlack Lives Matter is Living in the Past. He wrote an article on disappearing languages for The Atlantic,┬áWhere Do Languages Go to Die?┬áand also wrote on how cultures imitate and “borrow” from each other, and explained┬áthe racism in the sequel to Kill a Mockingbird.

Holger Mey contributed to the World Future Guide. He has published more than 150 articles in major security policy journals, newspapers, and books. He is also the editor, co-author, or author of a number of books, including Deutsche Sicherheitspolitik 2030, 2001 (German Security Policy in the 21st Century, 2004).

Ian Morris published Foragers, Farmers, and Fossil Fuels- How Human Values Evolve, and another of this books,┬áWhy the West RulesÔÇöFor Now, ┬áwas featured in the article, Stop-and-Seize Turns Police Into Self-Funding GangsWhy the West Rules For Now.┬áHe also says that monkeys have an innate sense of justice. He was interviewed on the secular podcast,┬áRationally Speaking.

Taslima Nasrin┬áis a Bengali author and former physician who has lived in exile since 1994, due to threats coming from her criticism of religion. See her┬áspeech,┬áWhy Secularism is Necessary for WomenÔÇÖs Freedom, at the┬áWomen in Secularism III conference┬áin Alexandria, Virginia, USA. She was also listed #6 on a terrorist hit list, so she must be doing something right. She won┬áthe Emperor Has No Clothes Award at the Freedom From Religion FoundationÔÇÖs annual convention.

Greg Neimeyer contributed to the World Future Guide and runs psychgradprep.net for undergraduates wishing to maximize their chances of getting into a psychology graduate school.

John Allen Paulos is an American professor of mathematics at Temple University, who speaks on Stories vs. Statistics┬áand the┬áauthor of several books including┬áInnumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and its Consequences and┬áIrreligion: A Mathematician Explains Why the Arguments for God Just DonÔÇÖt Add Up?

Kevin Perrott is a leader in the movement to extend the natural healthspan of humans so that people could feel as healthy as 40 years old in their 80s. We interviewed him at length for the SPI newsletter.

Donald Prothero┬áis an American geologist and mammalian┬ápaleontologist who was one of the first to conduct research┬áin┬ámagnetostratigraphy, a technique to date rock layers that is┬áused to examine┬áhistorical┬áclimate changes. He spoke about┬áone of historyÔÇÖs largest victims of climate change:┬á dinosaurs, in Is ÔÇ£BrontosaurusÔÇØ Back? Not So Fast!┬áHe also published┬áa book,┬áThe Story of Life in 25 Fossils.

SarahSalih7002Sarbagh Salih┬áis a secular female┬áKurdish scientist living in the Kurdish Region of Iraq and was previously a scientist for the US Department of Agriculture┬áwith an expertise┬áin biodiversity and plant life. ┬áShe is┬áwith the American University of Iraq and also has her own foundation ÔÇô the Kurdish Botanical Foundation. Her husband, Dr. Batham Ahmed Salih, is the former Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government and Deputy PM for Iraq as well as┬áthe founder of the American University of┬áIraq.

Michael Semple,┬áVisiting Research Professor in the Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation and Social Justice at QueenÔÇÖs University Belfast, has written an article for the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Making Peace with the Taliban

David Sloan Wilson 
rebutted a New York Times article about learning the wrong corporate management lessons from Darwinism, by writing Jeff Bezos got Darwinism all Wrong!  Ruthless competition is a prescription for disaster. He sat down with Cornell economist Robert Frank to discuss his latest book The Darwin Economy.  He also wrote that a solid understanding of evolution could help us become more moral human beings and appeared on a podcast to explain how understanding evolution can improve the world and why people believe silly things.

Policy: SPI Accomplishments in 2015

The weekly report on global politics and secularism
by Johnny Monsarrat

It’s been a good year for the secular movement and strong for the Secular Policy Institute as well. In its inaugural year, the SPI:

We published a number of reports, including:

SecularLovePoemsAnd we gave away a e-book of secular love poems to everyone joining our newsletter, featuring poets from Auden to Shakespeare.

We launched the The Parent-Teacher Community Action Network, a nationwide American organization with a new philosophy that puts secular people in the center of their communities, including a website and the extensive document, How to Run a CAN Group.

In addition to giving exposure to our coalition through our newsletter and social media, we have:

  • Developed websites for the Hispanic American Freethinkers, the International Freethought Film Festival, the United Church of Bacon, and the United Coalition of Reason.
  • Written fundraising project proposals on behalf of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, Atheist Alliance International, Foundation for Critical Thinking, Foundation Beyond Belief, in additional to our own projects.
  • Provided other support to partners, for example co-organizing a street protest for the United Church of Bacon, generating a list of thousands of teachers for the Foundation for Critical Thinking to send its materials to, offering grants including to the George Mason University Secular Student Alliance and Association of Atheism in Turkey, and furthering awareness for the Freethought SocietyÔÇÖs campaign against the Boy Scouts.
  • Developed a volunteer team of more than 100 activists.
  • Developed the worldÔÇÖs largest email list of secular supporters.

new-year-congressIn 2015, SPI executives have:

  • Spoken at The Amazing Meeting in Las Vegas
  • Spoken at DragonCon, the 3rd largest fan convention in the United States, in Atlanta
  • Taken coalition member the Foundation for Critical Thinking to several congressional meetings to promote critical thinking in public policy
  • Traveled to Canada to meet with the Canadian Secular Alliance and others
  • Traveled to New Zealand, meeting with the New Zealand Association of Rationalists and Humanists
  • Traveled to Liechtenstein to attend the International Gottfried von Haberler Conference in Vaduz, , on eroding civil liberties even in modern countries.
  • Traveled to the Czech Republic to sit on a panel at the Freemarket Road Show in Prague.
  • Met NigeriaÔÇÖs President, Muhammadu Buhari, to lobby against blasphemy laws
  • Attended the Senate Committee on the Environment to lobby against climate change
  • Attended the Center for Inquiry meeting in Buffalo, New York
  • Attended PeaceGame, the conference on extremism, run by the United States Institute of Peace and the FP Group, which publishes Foreign Policy Magazine.
  • Attended Senate briefings including Senator Patty MurrayÔÇÖs hearing on federal and state Religious Freedom Restoration Acts
  • Participated in the SCAÔÇÖs Lobby Day, which SPI CEO Edwina Rogers founded
  • Lobbied Israeli Deputy Chief of Mission Reuven Azar over dinner
  • Met Austrian Ambassador Ferdinand Trauttmansdorff

And had dozens of other meetings, phone calls, and made presentations to American politicians and thought leaders from around the world.

Thank you for your support in our first year and together we are going to build an even better 2016!