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Massachusetts Atheist Lobby Officially Launches

Massachusetts chapter of the Secular Coalition for Americn is launched

The Secular Coalition for America is excited to announce the official launch of the Secular Coalition for Massachusetts. The Secular Coalition for Massachusetts will monitor state legislation and lobby lawmakers in favor of a strong separation of religion and government.

The Secular Coalition for America is a lobbying organization representing nontheistic Americans and advocating protecting and strengthening the secular character of our government. The Secular Coalition for Massachusetts is the fourth chapter to launch this year, as part of the SCA’s greater effort to establish 50 new state chapters throughout the country.

Executive Board Co-Chairs Ellery Schempp, 72, of Medford, Massachusetts and Zachary Bos, 31, Lunenburg, will head up the Secular Coalition for Massachusetts.

Ellery Schempp is a long-standing advocate of separation of church and state. In 1956 Schempp objected to "Morning Devotions" in his high school, which led all the way to the Supreme Court decision. The court’s decision ended government enforced Bible readings and prayers in public schools [1963, Abington v. Schempp and Murray v. Curlett]. His experience was detailed in a recent book, Ellery's Protest by Stephen Solomon.

Zachary Bos has been an active member of the secular movement for nearly a decade, working with organizations including Camp Quest New England, the National Atheist Party, American Atheists, and the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard. Bos has overseen the growth of the Boston Atheists as the largest atheist membership group in New England.

Schempp said the importance of a separation between religion and government is more important now than ever.

“Separation of church and state is the essential social and political element for all non-believers,” Schempp said. “Church authorities and agendas with anti-humanist dogmas must not gain power to control ‘morality’ for all.” 

A recent Pew Forum study indicated that a full 40 percent of Massachusetts residents do not express an absolute belief in God, and a majority of Massachusetts residents—60 percent—disagreed that “religion is very important to their lives.”  In fact, when it comes to this question, Massachusetts is one of the least religious states, outranked only by Alaska, New Hampshire and Vermont.  Another Pew study found that the majority of Americans (54%) say that churches and other houses of worship should keep out of political matters, and 38% says that there has been too much expression of religious faith and prayer from political leaders – a number that has grown to its highest point since the Pew Research Center began asking the question more than a decade ago.

Since June, the SCA successfully held initial organizing calls for new chapters in 38 states. And will announce initial organizing calls for the remaining 12 states today. The Secular Coalition plans to have all chapters up and running in every state, D.C. and Puerto Rico, by the end of the year. Secular Coalition groups are already functional in Arizona, Alabama, Colorado, Pennsylvania and South Carolina. The Secular Coalition for Massachusetts is also launching today.

Edwina Rogers, Secular Coalition for America Executive Director said she is excited to see the Massachusetts chapter launch. The state chapters play an integral role at the state level, as well as the national level, she said. 

“In our current U.S. Congress, 38 percent of Representatives held local office first,” said Rogers. “When we get to law makers at the local level, not only are we going to help curb some of the most egregious legislation we’re seeing, but we are also building relationships and working to educate legislators on our issues, before they even get to Washington.”

The Secular Coalition, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, represents 11 nontheistic member organizations and has as traditionally focused advocacy efforts on federal legislation. The SCA will continue to lobby at the federal level, while state chapters will lobby at the state level. Participation in the Secular Coalition for Massachusetts is open to all Massachusetts residents that support a strong separation of religion and government, regardless of their personal religious beliefs.

Additional information about the new Massachusetts chapter can be found at http://secular.org/states/chapters/Massachusetts. The chapter co-chairs can be contacted via email at: mailto:secularcoalitionofMassachusetts@gmail.com, or by phone: Ellery Schempp at 781-483-3100, and Zachary Bos at 617-935-4951

ABOUT THE SECULAR COALITION FOR AMERICA

The Secular Coalition for America is a 501(c)(4) organization that serves as the national lobby for atheists, agnostics, humanists, freethinkers, and other nontheistic Americans. Composed of 11 diverse member organizations, SCA works to protect and strengthen the secular character of our government as the best guarantee of freedom for all. For more information, please visit www.secular.org. Persons interested in more information about the Secular Coalition for American can contact Lauren Anderson Youngblood, SCA Communications Manager, at lauren@secular.org or (202)299-1091 ext. 205.

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Chris Helms October 04, 2012 at 10:14 AM
I grew up agnostic in rural North Carolina. I often felt alone and outside the strong church culture there. Since then I've evolved (so to speak!) into an atheist. I've gotta say the culture here in Massachusetts is much more congenial to those of us who don't go for the supernatural.
Cerise Castle November 22, 2012 at 06:08 PM
How often have differing political views caused a problem? Have differences in red and blue beliefs caused an argument with a loved one, or even ended a relationship? As the election season draws to a close, we’re left with the aftermath to clean up hurt feelings and disgruntled neighbors. In a neighborhood as diverse as Jamaica Plain, I am positive that opposing political views ranging from the Presidential election to local issues caused some rifts, and I would love to hear about them. My name is Cerise Castle, and I’m reporting for Emerson College about the detrimental effects of partisan politics has had on our local community. If you have a story to tell, I would love to hear it. Please contact me via e-mail: cerise_castle@emerson.edu if you would like to tell. Thank you!

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