A coalition of 19 atheist and like-minded organizations has released a lengthy “secular agenda” blueprint for the Biden administration, urging it to repeal protections for religious liberty and to require taxpayer funding of abortion.
The Secular Coalition for America released the 13-page “Secular Agenda for the 117th Congress & Biden Administration,” listing its legislative priorities and its goals for the Biden White House. The coalition says it represents atheist, agnostic and humanist Americans, including the organizations American Atheists, Freedom From Religion Foundation and the Secular Student Alliance.
“We are excited to put forth this ambitious plan for the new administration and Congress,” said Casey Brinck, director of policy and government affairs for the Secular Coalition for America. “As we move forward into the first session of the 117th Congress, we can expect a flurry of legislative actions to be undertaken, and want not only our community to understand what we are working for on their behalf, but also for Congress and the new administration to have a better understanding of what our very large and quickly growing constituency expects of them.”
Among its most controversial actions, the coalition says it hopes to build support to repeal the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a 1993 bipartisan law that prevents the government from “substantially burdening a person's exercise of religion.” President Clinton, a Democrat, signed it after it was passed unanimously in the House. The Senate passed it, 97-3.
The coalition asks the Biden administration to reverse or modify some 30 executive orders, regulations or rules the Trump administration adopted to protect religious liberty.
The blueprint also encourages Congress to “have a secular Congressional invocation” and to “removе mandating swearing to God in all congressional oaths.”
Further, it asks Biden and Democrats to champion 11 specific bills in Congress, including:
- Do No Harm Act, which the coalition says would curb religious exemptions under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
- Women’s Health Protection Act, which would prohibit state and local governments from passing pro-life laws.
- EACH Woman Act, which would require taxpayer funding of abortion in public health insurance plans.
- Each Child Deserves a Family Act, which would prohibit discrimination in foster care and adoption on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
- Equality Act, which would amend federal laws to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in public accommodations and facilities, education, federal funding, employment and housing.
“Representing 19 national secular organizations, hundreds of local secular communities, and working with our allies in the faith community, we combine the power of grassroots activism with professional lobbying to make an impact on the laws and policies that govern separation of religion and government — or the improper encroachment of either on the other,” the blueprint says.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Mark Makela/Stringer
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.