CFI Advocacy Update — April 2017

May 1, 2017

Welcome to the Office of Public Policy’s monthly Advocacy Update. The Office of Public Policy (OPP) is the Washington, D.C.-based advocacy arm of the Center for Inquiry (CFI). Our mandate is to advocate for reason, science, and humanist values at all levels of government — statehouses, Congress, the Administration, and the United Nations.

This newsletter will update you on some of our activity over the past month.

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FEDERAL 

- On April 5, we joined nearly 4,500 nonprofit organizations in writing a letter to Congressional leadership  urging them to preserve the Johnson Amendment and keep partisan politics out of 501(c)(3) organizations. 

- On April 7, we issued a statement expressing our concern regarding the vote to appoint Judge Gorsuch of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit to the Supreme Court.

- On April 21, ahead of the March for Science, we issued an action alert urging people to tell their U.S. representativs to support the Scientific Integrity Act (H.R. 1358), a bill to defend and bolster the place of science in federal research and policymaking. 

- Throughout the month, we lobbied against reauthorization of the school voucher program in Washington, D.C. Unfortunately, Congress included a three-year reauthorization in its omnibus spending bill to fund the federal government for the rest of the fiscal year. 

STATE

- On April 12, we issued an action alert urging Ohio citizens to tell their state senators to support Ohio Senate Bill 52, which would reword the current Ohio law governing marriage officiants to allow anyone, regardless of religious affiliation, to register with the Secretary of State and receive the authorization to solemnize marriages. 

- Recently constituents have been packing town hall meetings with Congress to discuss pressing issues. If you are interested in attending a town hall near you, we suggest the Town Hall Project website as a resource.

INTERNATIONAL 

- Between April 3-5, we hosted a visit from the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Ahmed Shaheed, to Washington, D.C. for meetings with civil society representatives and government officials. You can read more about the special rapporteur and his visit here.

- On April 19, the UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) voted to webcast open meetings of Committee that handles accreditation for non-governmental organization (NGO) accreditation. CFI previously joined NGOs to make a series of reccomendations regarding the Committee, including greater transparency.

- We have continued to work with various advocacy organizations and government officials and agencies on behalf of non-religious individuals, secularists, and religious dissidents who face threats on their lives or else government charges in their home countries regarding freedom of religion, belief, and expression. You can support our efforts by donating to Secular Rescue.

MEDIA

- On April 1, CFI’s Director of Government Affairs and Main Representative to the United Nations was quoted in a World Magazine article on ties between Christian right groups and Russia.

- On April 5, The Mercury News cited the Center for Inquiry in its editorial on Pakistan’s crackdown on blasphemy. 

- On April 6, CFI’s Michael De Dora penned an essay for CFI’s Free Thinking blog regarding Pakistan’s hypocrisy on freedom of religion and belief.

- On April 7, the Friendly Atheist blog published an interview with Arnab Goswami, a Bangladeshi atheist writer who escaped death threats after receiving funds through CFI’s Secular Rescue program.

- On April 21, CFI’s Michael De Dora and Nick Little co-wrote an article for the Religion News Service titled “America’s real first freedom? Secular government.”

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Want more? Don’t forget to visit our website.