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Posted on Sep 27, 2012 in separation of church and state | 18 comments

Introducing the co-chair of the Secular Coalition for America’s state chapter…

I will be working with the Secular Coalition for America as the co-chair of the Pennsylvania state chapter alongside Brian Fields – President of the group Pennsylvania Nonbelievers.

My efforts to defend the constitutional principle of separation of religion and government in the United States will now be expanding from lone activism or that on behalf of the local community group — the NEPA Freethought Society — of which I am the co-organizer and spokesperson. I look forward to advocating on behalf of secular Pennsylvanians and those throughout the United States in my new position with the Secular Coalition for America.

Below is a copy of the press release from the Secular Coalition for America’s website. Find the link here.

Thu, 09/27/2012 – 14:42

Washington, D.C—The Secular Coalition for America is excited to announce the official launch of the Secular Coalition for Pennsylvania, expected to officially launch on Sunday. The Secular Coalition for Pennsylvania is the third chapter to launch as part of the SCA’s greater effort to establish 50 new state chapters throughout the country this year. 

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 Pennsylvania will lobby state lawmakers in favor of a strong separation of religion and government.

Secular Coalition for Pennsylvania Executive Board Co-Chairs, Justin Vacula, 24 of Scranton and Brian Fields, 35 of Newville are expected to sign the “Memo of Understanding” that marks the official launch of the chapter, on Sunday at the PA State Atheist/Humanist Conference

Date: Sunday, September 30, 2012 
Time: 3:45 and 4:30pm
Location: PA State Atheist/Humanist Conference, Crowne Plaza Hotel, Harrisburg, PA 

“With legislation like the ‘Year of the Bible’ in Pennsylvania, it’s clear now, more than ever, that we need a secular voice speaking to our state government,” said Fields. “What sets the Secular Coalition for America apart is their dedication to directly supporting the separation of church and state, by speaking directly to those legislators that are responsible for protecting it.”

A recent Pew Forum study indicated that 28 percent of Pennsylvania residents do not express an absolute belief in God, and 46 percent disagreed that “religion is very important to their lives.” Another Pew study found that nationally 54% of Americans feel 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.

Vacula said he sees the role of the Secular Coalition for Pennsylvania as protecting that separation of religion and government—to the benefit of all Pennsylvanians. 

“Pennsylvania is notorious for recklessly breaching the walls of church/state separation,” said Vacula. “Secularists in Pennsylvania need a voice to counter pious politicians and inform lawmakers that infusing religion with government is unacceptable.”

Since June, the SCA successfully held initial organizing calls for new chapters in 38 states. The remaining 12 states will hold initial organizing calls in October. 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. A Secular Coalition affiliate is already functional in Arizona and the first chapter, in Colorado, was announced earlier this summer. The Secular Coalition for South Carolina is also launching today. 

Edwina Rogers, Secular Coalition for America Executive Director said she is excited to see the Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania is open to all Pennsylvanians that support a strong separation of religion and government, regardless of their personal religious beliefs.

For chapter co-chair bios and additional chapter information, please visit:

CONTACT: Lauren Anderson Youngblood, Communications Manager
O:  202-299-1091 ext. 205 
C:  202-630-9725

Contact the Secular Coalition for Pennsylvania via email at: 
Reach Chapter Co-Chair, Justin Vacula at  570-855-3085
Reach Chapter Co-Chair, Brian Fields at  717-585-0779