Why Is the White House Faith Office Meeting With Atheist Activists?

The Secular Coalition for America (SCA), an atheist lobbying organization that works to progress America’s non-theistic community, is praising a recent meeting that was held between non-believers and the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. On Monday, the group said that the get-together indicated “a positive step in establishing open lines of communication between the White House and the nontheistic community.”

Edwina Rogers, the SCA’s executive director, coordinated and attended the meeting along with other atheist leaders from American Atheists, American Humanist Association and Military Association of Atheists and Freethinker. News of the meeting, which unfolded sometime in June (the date was not given), was shared with the lobbying group’s supporters on Monday, Politico reports. Here’s a full list of atheist attendees (based on the SCA press release):

Edwina Rogers led a group of several representatives from the nontheistic community including several of the Coalition’s member organizations, which included Aisha Goss, Deputy Director of the Secular Coalition for America; Wendy Kaminer, Secular Coalition Advisory Board member; Amanda Knief, Managing Director of American Atheists; Maggie Ardiente, Director of Communications and Development at the American Humanist Association; Greg Epstein, Humanist Chaplain at Harvard University; Jason Torpy, President of the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers; and Michael DeDora, Director of the Center for Inquiry’s Office of Public Policy and CFI representative to the United Nations.
From left to right: Wendy Kaminer, Michael DeDora, Amanda Knief, Greg Epstein, Melissa Rogers, Jason Torpy, Edwina Rogers, Maggie Ardiente, and Aisha Goss (Photo Credit: Secular Coalition for America)

Politico also notes that Melissa Rogers, director of the faith-based office and the Rev. David Meyers, director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, attended and met with the atheist leaders.

“The purpose of the meeting was to brief the Administration on secular and nontheistic issues, and to establish better lines of communication that can ultimately lead to greater nontheistic involvement,” the SCA said of the meeting’s purpose.

The White House is, according to the SCA statement, looking to better include atheists. This meeting apparently drove that point home, opening the doors to what non-believers hope is a more viable partnership with the U.S. government.

“We are pleased that the White House is looking at ways to better include the nontheistic community,” Rogers said “The Administration seemed to recognize the need for nontheistic inclusion and seemed open to finding areas where we can work together.”

The press release is extremely vague surrounding what was discussed — and it should be noted that this isn’t the first time non-believers have met with White House officials. This meeting follows a 2010 gathering between the two parties that included 60 atheist leaders.

(H/T: Politico)

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