November 25, 2014

Atheists preparing to lobby legislature (AUDIO)

A new voice will be heard in the Capitol in next year’s legislative session arguing that politics and religion are too close in Missouri law-making. The Secular Coalition for America, a Washington D. C.-based organization for people who do not believe in God, is organizing lobbying efforts at the state level nationwide.

Coalition spokesman Lauren Anderson Youngblood says the organization is setting up chapters in all fifty states. Missouri’s chapter is to be formed two weeks from today.

Youngblood says Missouri’s legislature considers or enacts proposals that are inappropriately based on religion. A news release from the coalition describes five measures considered in this year’s session:

SB 749: Blocks federal health care law and denies access to birth control for women that work for an employer that has a “religious” or “moral” objection to birth control. (Awaiting Governor’s signature)

HR 959: Encouraged all Missourians to take part in the National Day of Prayer in 2012. (Passed)

HB 1278: Would reauthorize the ‘pregnancy resource center’ tax credit and continues to place the state’s imprimatur on “clinics” that employ religiosity, misinformation, and over-blown promises of assistance to persuade women to continue their pregnancy. (Placed on informal calendar 5/18/2012)

SB 749: States that “no employee, self-employed person, or any other person shall be compelled to obtain coverage for, or be discriminated against or penalized for declining or refusing coverage for, abortion, contraception, or sterilization in a health plan if such items or procedures are contrary to the religious beliefs or moral convictions of such employee or person.” (Awaiting Governor’s signature)

HB 2051: The “Don’t Say Gay” Bill would prohibit the teaching of sexual orientation in public schools. (Pending future action)

Youngblood says the chapter in Missouri will give voice to people who are afraid of going public. “People are…afraid to make it known they are a nontheist…It’s equivalent on many levels to coming out gay.”

AUDIO: Youngblood interview 28:00