CFI Civic Days—On the Hill and In the Halls
July 25, 2009
Toni Van Pelt (front right) with some of the attendees at CFI Civic Days 2009 on the steps of the Supreme Court building.
July 18-21, I attended CFI Civic Days at the Capitol organized by the CFI Office of Public Policy led by Toni Van Pelt, Director of Public Policy. The Center for Inquiry Office of Public Policy asks U.S. Congressional members to base law and policy on empirical evidence and the scientific method where possible and to maintain the integrity of the U.S. Constitution, with emphasis on separation of church and state. We are fortunate to have in Barack Obama a President who supports making government decisions based on these criteria.
The meetings included a briefing on the Credibility Project , a session with two congressional staff members, and role playing on how to interact with congressional staff. On Tuesday, we were encouraged to visit our Senators and Representatives. We took a folder containing a copy of both Skeptical Inquirer and Free Inquiry magazines, a very attractive brochure about The Credibility Project , and other materials. We were prepared to talk about three issues: The Credibility Project , the International Science and Technology Cooperation Act of 2009 , and the Military Readiness Enhancement Act of 2009 (repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell).
I was able to meet with staff members of four members of Congress from Indiana: Senator Richard Lugar , Senator Evan Bayh , Congressman Andre Carson , and Congressman Steve Buyer . I felt the meetings were very productive as I was able to introduce them to Center for Inquiry and let them know about our Indiana center . I had congenial discussions with each of these staff members on the three issues. Congressman Carson is already a cosponsor of the bill to repeal "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell." The staff member from his office said she would try to stop by our center sometime when she is in Indianapolis. She knew exactly where we are located but had not stopped in before.
This is the kind of thing we need to be doing if we are to influence our U.S. Congressional members to base law and policy on empirical evidence and scientific method. The next time Civic Days are offered, I would urge everyone to sign up and attend.