For Immediate Release
Contact: Paul Fidalgo
Phone: (207) 358-9785
August 08, 2016
The Center for Inquiry proudly took part in the series of roundtables on combatting religious discrimination held by the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. The Civil Rights Division recently released a report that included a summary of the meetings and a commitment to taking new steps to confront this challenge. CFI, an organization that advocates for science, reason, and secularism, was the sole organization to represent nonreligious Americans, including atheists, agnostics, and humanists.
The roundtable discussions, which took place over several months in cities across the country, included Justice Department and other federal employees, as well as representatives from national and local religious and civil rights organizations. Participants discussed hate crimes, bullying in schools, employment discrimination, and much more. The Center for Inquiry was represented by its Vice President for Legal Affairs, Nicholas Little, who found the meetings to be very productive and positive.
“I was very glad to take part in these substantive discussions on some very sensitive topics,” said Little, “These roundtables gave us an excellent opportunity to shine a light on issues of particular concern to the nonreligious community, which is the second-largest belief group in the country, and the largest single voting bloc.”
Among the issues raised by Little were religion’s place in education, both as a subject of study and as reason for discrimination and harassment against those students who profess no religion, or belong to a minority faith. Also of concern to CFI was workplace religious discrimination, where, through group prayers or other sectarian activities, employers impose their beliefs upon employees who do not share their religious beliefs, or hold any religious beliefs at all. The report recommended several steps to address these concerns, some of which centered on government action to raise people’s awareness of their own rights, and improved training for teachers and employers in order to curtail discrimination or harassment before it happens.
“What I hope will come about from these discussions is a rejuvenated effort to find ways to respect people’s beliefs without having anyone’s beliefs inflicted on anyone else,” said Little. “Whether at school, at work, or anywhere else, religious and nonreligious Americans alike simply want to live their lives freely, without fear of discrimination or harassment. There’s no reason why we can’t make that a reality if we sincerely work together.”
These meetings grew out of the Know Your Neighbor Coalition, launched at the White House with the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships in 2015, of which CFI was again the sole organization to represent the interests of nonreligious Americans.
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The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization headquartered in Amherst, New York, with executive offices in Washington, D.C. It is also home to both the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, the Council for Secular Humanism, and will soon be home to the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science. The mission of CFI is to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. Visit CFI on the web at www.centerforinquiry.net.