CFI Advocacy Update — January 2016

February 1, 2016

Welcome to the Office of Public Policy’s monthly Advocacy Update. The Office of Public Policy (OPP) is the Washington, D.C. political arm of the Center for Inquiry (CFI). Our mandate is to advocate for public policies based on reason, science, and secular values. This includes lobbying at all levels of government — Congress, the Administration, and the United Nations — to promote and defend separation of church and state, the role of scientific evidence and secular humanist ethics in policymaking, and basic civil and political rights.

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

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FEDERAL 

- Through the month, we continued to work with likeminded groups to lobby members of Congress to support swift passage of H. Res. 290, which calls for the repeal of blasphemy laws around the world. You can take action in support of this resolution here.

- Through the month, we continued to work with likeminded groups to lobby members of Congress to support swift passage of H. Res. 396, which calls for the government of Bangladesh to protect human rights. You can take action in support of this resolution here.

- On January 4, we issued an action alert urging our members to message their U.S. representative and tell them to reject an attempt to withdraw federal funding from Planned Parenthood. The measure would pass, but would be vetoed by President Obama. 

- On January 15, to mark Religious Freedom Day, we led a joint letter sent to all members of Congress urging them to support the principles outlined in the 1786 Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom and First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Additionally, we issued an action alert Congress urging our members to contact their members of Congress and tell them to support the necessarily secular and pluralistic foundation and spirit of the U.S. government.

- On January 25, the start of “School Choice Week,” we issued an action alert urging our members to message their elected officials in Congress to oppose school voucher schemes. 

- On January 26, we issued an action alert urging our members to message to their members of Congress to tell them to back a landmark resolution “expressing support for transgender acceptance.” 

STATE

- We are continuing to track a measures that would legalize physician assistance in dying in the District of Columbia and New York state. 

INTERNATIONAL

- On January 12, the Center for Inquiry learned that Saudi human rights activist Samar Badawi was arrested for allegedly operating the Twitter account of her husband, jailed human rights attorney Waleed Abu al-Khair. Ms. Badawi is also the sister of jailed dissident Raif Badawi, and Mr. al-Khair was Mr. Badawi’s lawyer before he himself was jailed. CFI immediately issued a statement demanding that Saudi Arabia immediately and unconditionally release Badawi. You can read more about CFI’s work to defend freedom of expression on our Campaign for Free Expression website.

- We have continued to work with various advocacy organizations and government officials and agencies on behalf of secularists and skeptics who face threats on their lives or else government charges in their home countries regarding freedom of religion, belief, and expression. We will keep you updated if and when anything happens. You can support our efforts by donating to the Freethought Emergency Fund.

MEDIA

- On January 12, CFI was referenced in an Associated Press article on the arrest of Samar Badawi. 

- On January 13, CFI Office of Public Policy Director Michael De Dora was quoted in The Independent regarding the arrest of Samar Badawi. 

- On January 26, CFI’s Michael De Dora engaged in a lengthy interview with the Iowa Free Press concerning secularism and the 2016 election.

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