The weekly report on US and International policy
by Edwina Rogers
New Turkish SPI Member Group to Attend Secular Conference
It is very difficult to be openly secular in Turkey, a country that inhibits free press and free speech. SPI Coalition member, The Association of Atheism (Ateizm Dernegi), a Turkish secular group, has faced a great deal of difficulties. Their website was once banned after a court ruling, and upon reinstatement was required to remove certain questions. The personal Facebook pages of the members of The Association of Atheism were closed in March 2015, and some members have received personal threats of violence and/or death. In particular, the current President received a direct death threat from an Islamic extremist group which is believed to be affiliated with ISIS. The Association also has difficulty securing venues and permits to host events, regardless of the type, due to fear and prejudice. For these reasons and more, it is imperative for Turkey to have representation at secular events. In Washington, D.C. last week, Secular Policy Institute hosted Morgan Romano of The Association of Atheism, and has issued a grant to enable the group to speak at the Center for Inquiry conference in Buffalo this coming June.
Secular Policy Institute CEO Edwina Rogers to Visit Israeli Embassy
Edwina Rogers will attend a dinner and discussion with the Israeli Deputy Chief of Mission Reuven Azar.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu formed a coalition government less than an hour before the deadline on May 6th. Netanyahu now has one week to present his coalition and Cabinet to the Knesset. There are numerous religious freedom, discrimination, and human rights matters to be addressed. Stay tuned for the report next week.
Secular Policy Institute Invited To Participate in Important Conference
Edwina Rogers was invited by H.S.H. Prince Michael von und zu Liechtenstein and H.S.H. Prince Philipp von und zu Liechtenstein to the International Gottfried von Haberler Conference in Vaduz, Liechtenstein, to be held on May 29, 2015. Hosted by former President of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Klaus, the conference will focus on states’ eroding civil liberties.
National Day of Reason And National Day of Prayer
A congressional resolution (House Res. 228) has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives to honor the National Day of Reason, a secular response to the National Day of Prayer, which falls on May 7th, 2015. The American Humanist Association has worked with sponsor Representative Mike Honda (CA-17) and co-sponsor Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC) to help introduce this resolution. Thank you, AHA!
Delaware Community Pushes For Definitions of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBTQ) in Health Education Curriculum
The Indian River School District in Selbyville, Delaware found itself at the center of a health curriculum controversy in late 2014 and into early 2015, eventually resulting in a win for proponents of comprehensive sexuality education. The controversy heated up when community members spoke out in opposition to the views of local Board of Education member Shaun Fink, who believed that definitions of the words gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender should not be included in the district’s health education curriculum.
ISIS Claimed Attack In Texas At Mohammed Cartoon Contest
ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack outside a Prophet Mohammed cartoon contest in Garland, Texas, the official ISIS radio channel announced today.
The two gunmen, Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi, wounded a security guard before police shot and killed them. There is currently no evidence that the attackers were affiliated with ISIS.
Pro-Life Organizations Pledge to Risk Violating D.C. Anti-Discrimination Law
Senate allowed the controversial Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act to officially take effect in the nation’s capital. The law ensures that “individuals are protected from discrimination by an employer, employment agency, or labor organization, based on an individual’s or dependent’s reproductive health decisions”. It requires all employers, religious and secular, to provide insurance coverage of all reproductive healthcare, including abortion. Just hours after the law was passed, a group of pro-life organizations released a joint statement pledging to continue operating in accordance with their beliefs, thereby putting themselves at risk of violating the law:
“Despite the enactment of this unjust law, we will continue to hire employees who share our commitment to the dignity of every member of the human family,” reads the statement released by Alliance Defending Freedom, the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, Americans United for Life and Americans United for Life Action, March for Life, Concerned Women for America and the Susan B. Anthony List.