Obama aides to meet with atheists


Thanks, Guy Harrison, for bringing this Miami Herald article to our attention:

…several administration officials will sit down quietly for a morning meeting at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House campus with about 60 workhorses from the coalition’s 10 member groups, including the American Atheists and the Council for Secular Humanism. Tina Tchen, the director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, and representatives from the Justice and Health and Human Services departments will participate.

Coalition leaders are billing their visit as an important meeting between a presidential administration and the “nontheist” community. On the agenda are three policy areas: child medical neglect, military proselytizing and faith-based initiatives.

“We’re raising important issues that affect real people’s lives,” said Sean Faircloth, 49, a former Maine state legislator who’s the coalition’s executive director.

Not a HUGE step, but it’s a start.

Comments

  1. says

    This is good. Hopefully they make some headway soon. My brain bleeds a little at every military ceremony where we're randomly directed to "bow our heads in prayer".

  2. says

    It refreshing to see someone take us seriously for once. We'd better get our say in now because I'm pretty sure that door's going to close again when The Palin/other-random-dumbass takes over the White House. 2012 may be the end after all.Blessed Atheist Bible Study @ http://blessedatheist.com/

  3. DavidCT says

    @KazimOf course Obama is meeting with atheists. What else would you expect from a satanist? Don't you listen to Fox and Rush to get the truth?We can only hope that this will continue, and that we will have more secularism in government. The intolerance of the "W" years had no use for people with different views on any issue. We can see how helpful that was.

  4. says

    "Not a HUGE step, but it's a start."A start for what? It's just more of the same, isn't it? Just as being a theist shouldn't be enough to get you a seat with the president, being an atheist shouldn't either… neither attribute qualifies you for that. The president should talk to people that are actually qualified to discuss child medical neglect, military proselytizing and faith-based initiatives.Sure, it's nice to be recognized at least, but I'm not sharing your enthusiasm. What am I missing?

  5. says

    The president should talk to people that are actually qualified to discuss child medical neglect, military proselytizing and faith-based initiatives.There might be people more qualified to discuss medical neglect, although the problem in many cases is that it is glossed over due to a misguided respect for religious practices.However, I'm wondering exactly who you think is more qualified than representatives of prominent atheist groups to discuss concerns about military proselytizing and faith-based initiatives? Who else is doing that, exactly?

  6. says

    "I'm wondering exactly who you think is more qualified than representatives of prominent atheist groups to discuss concerns about military proselytizing and faith-based initiatives? Who else is doing that, exactly?"Victims that have been proselytized, heads of the state of invaded countries, lawyers and judges, members of the supervisory body for the spending of tax money… there are numerous groups of people that don't just have a strong opinion but expertise in the related fields.I don't think that listening to people based on the fact that they're "prominent atheists" is any better in principle than listening to prominent theists. Of course, it'll probably come way more good out of it, but if you want to keep the theists out of government decisions, the same should apply to us.

  7. says

    "I don't think that listening to people based on the fact that they're "prominent atheists" is any better in principle than listening to prominent theists."A person's race alone is no reason to assign their opinion any more value than anyone else's most of the time. Did that mean that black people, for example should not have been granted meetings with top-level administrators with the aim of ending segregation?Atheists are qualified to discuss issues such as military proselytization and faith-based initiatives because these are areas where they face active discrimination. No one's voice deserves more to be heard when one is the subject of the injustice under discussion. As for negligent religious parents, I admit that merely being an atheist doesn't add much weight to one's opinion. Most atheists are secularists, however, and they would be very interested in making sure that religious people aren't given special dispensation to let their children die.

  8. says

    "but if you want to keep the theists out of government decisions, the same should apply to us."Unfortunatley theists ARE influencing government decisions. And this is why Atheists, and more specifically Secularists, as a group, need to be heard on important issues. When 80% of the country is religious, and many of the others are uber-tollerant of religious insanity, then it gets to the point when the opinions of the small minority who don't base their values on a belief in an invisible sky daddy need to be heard all the more.Governments sometimes need a wake up call. Hopefully if this meeting sparks some further investigation, awareness will be heightened and significant progress will be made.

  9. says

    "A person's race alone is no reason to assign their opinion any more value than anyone else's most of the time. Did that mean that black people, for example should not have been granted meetings with top-level administrators with the aim of ending segregation?"Your question seems to indicate that you disagree with me, and yet that's exactly my point. You even answer your own question in your following paragraph. They needed to be heard because it was specifically them that were being discriminated against and not the Buddhists who felt strongly that bible supported slavery was immoral.In a similar where an atheist is in the position that the blacks were in it'd be perfectly fine for the president to sit down with an atheist group. In this case, however, neither of the three topics has anything to do with the disbelief in a god. Not believing in a god doesn't qualify you to talk about- parents abusing their children- soldiers proselytizing citizens of another country* – the constitutionality of faith-based initiatives.Yes, we have a strong opinions about those issues. But so do christians and tooth-fairyist. Neither is qualified; public prosecutor and lawyers, victims and their official representatives, contraveners, experts in the fields, taxpayers concerned about their money, citizens who feel the constitution has been broken and petition the issue are. The all can of course happen to be atheists.Again, in the above cases, the involvement of atheist groups is the same as if the president consulted the Westboro Baptist Chruch. I don't assume you'd like to see him sitting down with them now, do you? Both, proponents and opponents of the issues, have exactly as much say. And then he'll have to follow up with meeting prominent Scientologist, Islamists, Pagans and Wickans."Unfortunatley theists ARE influencing government decisions. And this is why Atheists, and more specifically Secularists, as a group, need to be heard on important issues."I completely agree with you, we need to be heard. But that's a matter of debate, petition and demonstrations in the public realm… that's where you raise awareness and get recognized. But when it gets down to legislation informed decisions need to be made and hearing everyone who feels they have a strong opinion won't get you there.We need to get away from giving religious figures this default status of "Here's some issue you might be remotely interested in so what's your completely unqualified opinion that you can spout as absolute truth? Oh, and here's a meeting with government officials and an hour of air-time for you to spread it." Unless you want to drown in hypocrisy and bite the hand that feeds you the same must apply for atheists (in their role as an atheist!). Two wrongs just don't make a right… even if the theists are fighting dirty.* Note: It's not the soldiers that are being proselytized here… if that was the case an atheist could probably give valuable insight.

  10. says

    Benedikt: the way I see it is not "This is what you need to do about these things because we're atheists and we know better", but "These are the things we atheists are concerned about – we think they are detrimental to society, unconstitutional etc. and here's why: … Now that you've heard our reasoning, we'd like to hear what your position is and what you're planning to do about these issues."Basically it's about getting our voice heard. Moreover, you seem to be assuming that the coalition leaders in this case are simply your average rank-and-file atheists with little or no knowledge of politics or jurisdiction, which I don't think is the case at all. I strongly doubt that these coalitions would select PZ Myers -type polemicists to represent them, but rather people with expertise and informed opinions such as "Sean Faircloth, 49, a former Maine state legislator".

  11. says

    A start for what? It's just more of the same, isn't it? Just as being a theist shouldn't be enough to get you a seat with the president, being an atheist shouldn't either… neither attribute qualifies you for that.It's not a matter of qualifications (and I think there are plenty of qualified people within the Secular Coalition), as US citizens we have the right to petition the government with grievances, as individuals or as coalitions. I don't see anybody here saying that Theists shouldn't do the same, just that atheists have the right to as well.It's true that individuals who have been wronged should be heard, but that's not really practical. It's more likely that organizations representing these individuals would get noticed and given time to meet with the government than individuals; it's not just a matter of politics but is a matter of practicality.* Note: It's not the soldiers that are being proselytized here… if that was the case an atheist could probably give valuable insight.But US soldiers are being proselytized, in fact it's US military policy that members of "minority" religions are exempt from proselytizing, but not atheists.

  12. Afterthought_btw says

    Hemant, over at The Friendly Atheist, was one of those at the meeting, so he has a few posts about it.If you read them, Benedikt, you'll see that there actually were people with experience of these things there. You seem to neglect the fact that the reason some of these people are in the prominent atheist groups in the first place, is because they have experience of these problems.

  13. says

    Reynold,I noticed that the forum you linked is also quite high on all that 2012 prophecy, end times stuff.Remember what happened the wannabe prophet Dani'El frequented the blogosphere? That's right, nothing at all. He promised to retract his visions as false if they didn't come true during 2009, even while postponing the inevitable doom of California a few times. Did he? No. I saw him post at some blog the other day, apparently ignoring that he was revealed as a severely deluded guy with pathological issues (something most people understood about him for a long time).I look forward to 2012. It's going to be a feast.In 2013, they'll pretend they were mislead, or that they never really believed it, they'll delete everything to cover their tracks, and they'll be proudly parading how humble, innocent and not at all dishonest they are.Just like they have done for the last centuries, each and every time they were proven wrong. Something's wrong with the human mind, being capable of disregarding and repressing all the history such delusions have, again and again and again. Do they really believe that they are the ones to get it right, finally?

  14. says

    As for my previous post, be aware that they only stay on topic for the first minute and a half.Surprising really. They don't usually waste so much opportunity for atheist bashing.

  15. deep says

    @a-astrologistYou mean what fox news DIDN'T say about it. I watched that clip this morning, worst seven minutes of my life. How Fox is taking stories, not going into any detail about them, and then using it as a springboard to publicize whatever candidate they like (or are talking to) is really getting on my nerves.How they manage to stay "news" rather than a 24 hour campaign commercial is beyond me.

  16. says

    felixThing is, the Rapture Ready people have actual rules against "date-setting". Lord knows though they've speculated like crazy in the past.One such item I remember is their fear that Obama would shut down their site!As to Dani'El, yeah, I remember him. He posted a lot on the Debunking Atheists blog.I suspect even the mod there would ask an accounting of Dani'El.

  17. says

    I just watched the Fox News piece posted earlier, and the first thing Fox News did was call it a "hostility to religion" and couched the entire interview in that light. "Is this really demonstrating hostility to religion or not"? How much more biased can you frame the question?You've got to be kidding. It could only remotely be called Fair and Balanced if the fulcrum of the balance is on the far right. Geesh.

  18. says

    The "hostility toward religion" is that the Obama white house has not had any big meetings with religious groups, lately (supposedly*). This is like saying that they are hostile toward white people because they had one member of their staff, ranked somewhere between cleaning lady and human resources manager, meet with African American race relations groups, but they never met with one single white representative to discuss how they can further meet the needs of white people.* "the Obama white house has not had any big meetings with religious groups, lately "– This part is untrue. Obama has been meeting with the republican party on a regular basis now.

  19. says

    It is not that unlikely that there has been an atheist president, ditto for a gay president. In both cases tho they would have to remain in t closet. Also plenty of our founding fathers were deists at most, which was not that irational a position to take pre-Darwin.I am happy for this meeting. I can agree w Benidict tho in wishing it were not necessary. If our government could stay out of affairs it has no business being involved in we would be fine. But we ought to deal w t situation as it is, which is a government involving itself in seemingly every aspect of everyones life.

  20. says

    "It is not that unlikely that there has been an atheist president, ditto for a gay president. In both cases tho they would have to remain in t closet."Hell some republicans believe that their party founder was both!

  21. says

    I'm not a fan of Obama, I'm not a fan of any politician for that matter. It's just a political move to get some votes. I don't trust politicians. I'm not a Demarcate or a Republican, both parties suck as far as I'm concerned. I guess you can say I am a independent, at least that is how I am registered. But I have to say at least its a step in the right direction. I am with HawkMom, as a recent former member of the Military, and two combat tours I was sickened by the bowing of the head and pray deal. I guess we have to start some where, but I'm not voting for Obama again that's for sure, bring on an atheist independent!Now that would be History!

  22. says

    "I guess we have to start some where, but I'm not voting for Obama again that's for sure, bring on an atheist independent!Now that would be History!"AS would be our first Unicorn President.

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