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:
- The SPI World Future Guide 2016, with essays by SPI Fellows that showcase the leadership of secular thought as it relates to public policy. The guide will be printed and sent to all members of the US Congress, US Executive Branch, and to selected foreign politicians. It is wake-up call that the secular movement has rich political ideas to contribute.
- The Secular Resource Guide, a collection of 100 demographic studies that use hard numbers to prove to politicians that secular people form a voting bloc that cannot be ignored, explaining who we are and what issues we care about.
- Abuse in America’s Faith-Based Initiative System, the worldÔÇÖs most comprehensive meta-analysis of how religions that take state and federal money to provide social services skirt the law. With 50 academic references, the papers shows how they discriminate, proselytize, and underperform to an alarming degree.
- The US Secular Policy Guide, an updated and fleshed out version of the uncopyrighted original work that Edwina Rogers spearheaded the┬áprevious year at the SCA, adding a website format.
- Who are Secular People?, which describes secularism for families, schools, businesses, and community leaders.
- The worldÔÇÖs largest directory┬áof secular groups.
- A┬áglobal calendar of secular events.
- Demographics: Religiousness by US State
- Demographics: Religiousness by Country
- Edwina Rogers’s speech at TAM, Science Has Left the House (and the Senate)
And we gave away a e-book of secular love poems to everyone joining our newsletter, featuring poets from Auden to Shakespeare.
We launched the┬áThe 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.
In 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!