About the International Coalition Calls

Every first Thursday of the month, the Secular Policy Institute holds an international coordinating call for its 300 members to discuss the future of the secular movement.

Call for November 5, 2015

Here’s the latest recording of the Secular Policy Institute’s international coordinating call.


SPI International Hot Spot of the Month – Myanmar

October 20, 2015

H.E. President Thein Sein
Presidential Palace
Zeya Theiddhi Ward
Naypyitaw, Myanmar

H.E. Ambassador U Kyaw Myo Htut
Embassy of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar
2300 S St, NW
Washington DC, 20008

Dear President Sein and Ambassador Htut:

Since May, the Republic of the Union of Myanmar signed ┬áinto law four ÔÇ£Protection of the Race and ReligionÔÇØ statutes. These laws place restrictions on marriage, religious conversion, and reproductive freedom of the people within MyanmarÔÇÖs borders. As an emerging democratic nation, these laws are injurious to secularism and democratic norms, and fuel an ongoing humanitarian crisis afflicting 1.4 million people of the Rohingya ethnic group. The Secular Policy Institute, and the below signed coalition members, ┬ácalls on the government of Myanmar, President Sein and the Houses of Nationality and Representation to review the Monogamy, Interfaith Marriage, Religious Conversion, and Population Control laws and to support the cause of and human rights.

The laws of ÔÇ£Protecting Race and ReligionÔÇØ include the ÔÇ£Monogamy LawÔÇØ criminalizing ┬ácohabitation with an unmarried partner that is not a recognized spouse (signed in law 31 August, 2015); the ÔÇ£Religious Conversion LawÔÇØ requiring that those wishing to change their religion seek the approval of a board for religious conversion requiring a 90-180 day approval process resulting in a ÔÇ£certificate of religious conversionÔÇØ (August 26, 2015), with penalties for ÔÇ£forced religious conversion;ÔÇØ the ÔÇ£Interfaith Marriage LawÔÇØ regulating marriage between Buddhist women to non-Buddhist men, where women under the age of 20 must obtain parental consent and those applying for marriage licenses must publicize their applications with a 14-day window for objections that are met with litigation (August 26, 2015); and the ÔÇ£Population Control LawÔÇØ that was passed in May. This final law imposes restrictions on the number of children that married couples (form ÔÇ£certain regionsÔÇØ) may have.

These laws impose significant restrictions on basic human liberties and risk violation of important, internationally recognized, human rights. ┬áWe call on MyanmarÔÇÖs diplomatic mission in the United States to arrange a meeting with the Secular Policy Institute to discuss these laws and consider enacting laws ┬áand regulations that support the ongoing development of a more just and equitable society.

After 49 years of military rule (1962-2011), Myanmar is in the transitional process of democratic consolidation.  Neither under the name of Burma nor Myanmar, has this nation been a signatory to either the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  This makes it more difficult to appeal to the standard bearer of global human-rights standards.



I ÔÇô┬áSPI Overview

(Edwina Rogers, CEO,, 202-674-7800)

  • SPI Mission

The Secular Policy Institute (SPI) is a think tank organization of thought leaders, writers, scholars, and speakers with a shared mission to influence public opinion and promote a secular society. We believe governmental decisions and public policies should be based on available science and reason, and free of religion or religious preferences.

Community Action Network (CAN) promotes the development and application of science and reason in an ongoing quest for secular solutions to local problems. As an inclusive, affirming, and action-oriented initiative, CAN seeks to promote rational relationships and effective community building in support of collective problem solving and the ongoing advancement and enjoyment of a more just and reasoned world.

II ÔÇô┬áFellowsÔÇÖ Corner

(Madeline Schussel, Director of Policy,

We would like to highlight these SPI Fellows:

Dr. Christopher DiCarlo┬áis SPIÔÇÖs newest Fellow! ┬áDr. DiCarlo is on faculty at theUniversity of Toronto┬áand┬áRyerson University. ┬áHe is a fellow, adviser, and board member of the┬áSociety of Ontario Free Thinkers┬áand the┬áCentre for Inquiry Canada. ┬áHis latest book entitled:┬áHow to Become a Really Good Pain in the Ass: A Critical ThinkerÔÇÖs Guide to Asking the Right Questions┬áhas achieved bestseller status. He has published scholarly papers on a variety of topics, a sampling of which may be found on┬áhis personal website.

Mark Juergensmeyer┬áhas found himself in the spotlight for taking a stand, and withdrawing from a speaking engagement for reasons of conscience. ┬áShould a private college be able to toss out students who lose their faith, and what about if they allow secular students?┬á┬áRead his thoughts┬áon the subject and view the┬ástatement on BYUÔÇÖs website.

Gregory BenfordÔÇÖs new article┬áThe Pluto of Science Fiction┬áin Air & Space.

Elham Manea┬ápaints a jarring portrait of the reality of blasphemy laws in her newest article seen on┬áThe Huffington Post. ┬áMohamed Cheikh is set to be executed for writing an article that was deemed ÔÇ£critical of MohammedÔÇØ.

John McWhorter┬áhas two new articles centered on linguistics. ┬áThe first,┬áWhy ÔÇ£RedskinsÔÇØ Is a Bad Word,┬ánot only delves into the controversy surrounding the football team; it also explores the origin of other ethnic slurs, other than the namesake of the team.┬áWhy ÔÇ£MomÔÇØ and ÔÇ£DadÔÇØ Sound So Similar in So Many Languages, explores this and many other curiosities behind language.

Taslima Nasrin┬áreceived the Emperor Has No Clothes Award at the Freedom From Religion FoundationÔÇÖs 38th┬áannual convention. ┬áThe convention took place October 9-11 in Madison, Wisconsin. ┬áThis award is given to chosen public figures who ÔÇ£tell it like it is about religion.ÔÇØ ┬á┬áVideo from the conference will be available on┬áFFRFÔÇÖs website.

David Sloan Wilson┬áreplies to an article from the┬áNew York Times┬áon DarwinÔÇÖs natural selection an excuse for ruthless competition. ┬áThe article,┬áJeff Bezos got Darwinism all Wrong! ┬áRuthless competition is a prescription for disaster, is a solid rebuttal. ┬áWilson manages to take an inflammatory title and not pull any punches, instead he offers fact and reason.

*Daily News Clip Available*

III ÔÇô┬áCoalitions & Resources

(Johnny Monsarrat, Alliance Director,

  • World SPI Calendar┬áÔÇô Upcoming Major Conferences

  • Volunteers & Interns ÔÇô SPI Volunteers/Interns Recruitment

  • Coalition Update

  • Newsletter ÔÇô weekly, please sign up.


IV ÔÇô┬áPublic Policy Update

  • Latin America Update

    • Hugo Estrella
      SPI is seeking  UN Special Consultative Status.  Edwina will be representative in NY and Hugo in Geneva.   We are looking to build coalitions and join networks.  SPI will seek UNESCO consultative NGO status.  Then we have the EU, there, they have an office which would be more than appropriate for us to lobby, which is the European Commission for Fundamental Rights.

      Our fellows from the Italian Union of Atheists Rationalists, Agnostics and Freethinkers (  to which Hugo belongs and who publish news from US matters and internationally as well (they are members of the European Humanist Federation) have office space in the city (Circolo UAAR di Pisa).  SPI will share the office thanks to Hugo.

V ÔÇô┬áProject and Member Spotlight

  • Bob Churchill┬áIHEU’s Communications Officer will fill us in with an┬áupdate on their activities.

VI - Upcoming Events

SPI Staff:

Edwina Rogers –

Madeline Schussel

Johnny Monsarrat –