For Immediate Release: December 19, 2007
Contact: Anne Singer, 202-271-4679 Historic Civil Rights Group Recognizes Nontheists’ Struggle
Secular Coalition for America Joins Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, Becomes First Member Advocating for Nontheist Americans
Washington, DC - The Secular Coalition for America has become the newest member of the oldest and most respected civil rights organization in the United States. As one of eight new members joining the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR) this year, the Secular Coalition for America will work with the LCCR in its mission to unite all Americans as one nation true to its promise of equal justice, equal opportunity and mutual respect.
Recognition that the nontheistic minority must be included in the struggle for civil rights marks a milestone. There are several religious groups within LCCR’s coalition, but the Secular Coalition for America is the first nontheist (atheists, humanists, and other Americans without a god belief) group to be included. Both organizations agree that religious freedom as protected by the Bill of Rights must also include the freedom to practice no religion.
Secular Coalition Director, Lori Lipman Brown, said, “This decision says as much about the LCCR and its willingness to acknowledge and include nontheists as it does about the Secular Coalition and its recognition of our theistic allies who support our rights.”
A total of eight groups were added to the LCCR’s coalition at their most recent board meeting: Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN); Center for Responsible Lending; Citizen’s Commission on Civil Rights; DC Vote; Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA), Matthew Shepard Foundation; Paralyzed Veterans of America; and the Secular Coalition for America.
The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights is the nation’s premier civil rights coalition, and has coordinated national legislative campaigns on behalf of every major civil rights law since 1957. LCCR consists of more than 192 national organizations, representing persons of color, women, children, labor unions, individuals with disabilities, older Americans, major religious groups, gays and lesbians and civil liberties and human rights groups ([url=http://www.civilrights.org]http://www.civilrights.org[/url]).
The Secular Coalition for America was established in 2002 as a 501(c)4 lobbying organization to increase the visibility and respectability of nontheistic viewpoints in the United States, and to protect and strengthen the secular character of our government as the best guarantee of freedom for all ([url=http://www.secular.org]http://www.secular.org[/url]).
This is a big deal for atheists in America. We are being recognized as a minority whose civil rights need protection.
As a minority (Black) and as a smaller minority (atheist) this takes me completely by surprise.
Damn!, maybe by the year 3500 I’ll actually have a reason to vote.
I’m not holding my breath, tho.
Sort of off topic, but you reminded me…
I remember back in the day when Reggie Finley, “The Infidel Guy,” had his show on every Friday night, and tons of people would congregate in his chat. Since Reggie is both black and atheist, he attracted a lot of others like him. I used to make jokes with a friend from NYC every time I “met” a black atheist online (my friend is black, I am white). I would tell him “add one more to the list” and he would reply “now we have 10!” or “now we have 12!” It was a long-running joke in chat for a while. IG doesn’t have a show any more, and I don’t visit his chat often any more, but Reggie still has an info site that you might enjoy: http://www.infidelguy.com/black1.html
I think you are number 15 or 16, maybe even number 20 on “the list”! (Haha, it’s actually way more than that.)
I think it is nice that the LCCR, who traditionally represents racial and other minorities, now recognizes atheists as a minority that needs help to gain equal footing with the majority. I hope that the leaders of the other minority groups in LCCR are supportive of us. If you check the Issues page you will see that voting is one of many issues that LCCR addresses.
Personally I’m voting Green this time around… that’s a topic for a new thread.
JEEZUS!! (sorry, life long reflexes), I really thought I was the only one. In my family there are fundiechristies and fundiemuzzies, and pretty much not much in between.
I’m from NYC (born,raised, kicked outta) and in that ‘liberal’ area non-religion or any kind of rational thought was almost only found in novels from H.G. Wells, meaning long, long ago in a galaxy far, far awy (is that how it goes? )
This is how Leela felt when she found out that she wasn’t the only cyclops.
sorry, too much rum, and not the good stuff either.
Well yay, I am glad I was able to bring you some good news. No, you aren’t alone. But Infidel Guy closed his old forums, and race/minority issues don’t seem to come up on the new forums that replaced his old site. I’m sorry I don’t have anyone or anywhere to refer you to for a sense of community.
But, cheers! I don’t mind cheap rum. I’ve got a cheap pinot noir here right now, and my glass is raised to you.
Yes, Infidel Guy is still pumping out shows regularly. I have a subscription to his podcasts at least and they update weekly. He gives the dates on every podcast and few are dated previously- as far as I noticed. I think he’s still making podcasts.
Are you here familiar with African Americans for Humanism? They’re part of the Council for Secular Humanism, and they have a long history of bringing together black freethinkers. They also produce a quarterly newsletter. (If you’re interested in receiving a copy or becoming a member, contact Norm Allen: nallen at centerforinquiry dot net .) There’s also a CFI discussion group that meets in Harlem that focuses on issues relevant to black freethinkers (like talking about all the Civil Rights movement leaders who identified as non-theists, as an example).
I dug up this article on Skepchick.com, about black women who identify as atheists. (And I’m not just listing it because I was interviewed—I was misquoted a bit! Ah well, it happens.)
The black community and black culture do make it harder to be an out atheist, I think. I was just reading Ebony magazine the other day while doing cardio at the gym (it was either that or Golf World), and I fumed at all the little references tying together spirituality/religion and black people…but it’s not my magazine…I’d like to see them run a feature on black non-believers sometime! For some, it’s like growing up in a Mormon family, in a Mormon town, surrounded by Mormons, and then trying to come out as a non-believer, when everyone else is so very connected to the Church.
I think that we’re seeing more racial diversity in the student freethought movement, though. So as this movement expands and grows, we’ll see more blacks, latinos, ex-Mormons, people of all sorts become willing to identify as out atheists and freethinkers.
I can comment a bit on what DebGod mentioned, regarding being raised Mormon and then coming out as a free thinker. It can be quite difficult for people in such circumstances to make a stand for the integrity of their own mind. I know I was shunned and persecuted for being a Mormon by the “true” Christians of my community but the Mormons I know and grew up with, at worst, look at me as lost and worthy of pity in their eyes.
On that score we agree completely. I see them the same way. Still, I never encountered any violent opposition to my “crisis of faith” as they would term it I imagine, from the Mormons themselves. Though they do have a doctrine of free agency, so technically they are duty bound to mind mind their own business with a member having a “crisis of faith”. Personally I do not think I have any crisis of faith. I gave faith a fighting chance. But my reason submitted it with a rear naked choke once I kept reading. To their credit, they don’t seem that surprised I find when people fall away. They do claim themselves as Latter Day “Saints” and saint is not something I aspire to. I imagine they have accepted that the doctrine will never have universal appeal, in fact, it’s part of the doctrine that not everyone will join or remain.
They still phone me from time to time to invite me to events they know I will not attend, nor would my wife, who if so irreligious she doesn’t even like atheism, if that makes any sense to you. I politely decline, I imagine more politely than I would to a religious organization that does not include my mother, and they go about their “saintly” business and I go about mine.
I guess I was fortunate to be raised in a community that was massively sectarian for the population, (When we moved here it was 35,000 people 340 different churches) though I could have done without the beatings at school on Monday for being a Satanist, after I spent the better part of Sunday praying to Jesus. I can only look on with great respect to the folks who had it harder than I did. It is a lonely road to walk when you own yourself and in the great scheme of things I had it pretty easy. I admire greatly the courage of folks who stand up in places where it not only could, but most likely will, result in their death. More variations on a theme of loving one’s neighbor it would seem.