(Washington, DC; Tuesday, February 24, 2015) United Coalition of Reason (UnitedCoR) was created in February 2009 as a response to the mass of local non-theistic (Humanist, freethought, atheist, Humanistic Jewish, Ethical Culture, agnostic and skeptic) groups springing up all over the country in the wake of the "New Atheism." UnitedCoR's initial mission was to be an advocate and raise the public profile of such groups while stimulating their cooperation. In the six years since the organization's launch, which began with two existing and two new local coalitions, 75 have been added, creating a network that spans 39 states, one Canadian province, and the District of Columbia. UnitedCoR's new mission and direction will be to empower and nurture the local coalitions.
UnitedCoR has now named UnitedCoR’s Executive Director as its new Executive Director, and he will commence this appointment on March 1, 2015. "It has been a wild ride, with coast-to-coast billboard and bus ad campaigns capturing public attention," said Fred Edwords, who led UnitedCoR over the past six years. "Now the torch passes to a new leader who is nurturing the organization's reach virtually as well as geographically." Edwords will continue his service to non-theistic communities in his new role as Director of Planned Giving for the American Humanist Association.
Dr. Heap, who formerly served as UnitedCoR's National Coordinator since August 2014, brings a unique wealth of education and globalized experience to the new appointment. He attended and took degrees from Howard Payne University, Brite Divinity School—Texas Christian University, the University of Oxford (UK), and Sheffield Hallam University (UK). Heap taught philosophy, psychology, religious studies, personal/social/health education, and other subjects in the UK's state-maintained schools and also worked as a headteacher at UK-curriculum international schools. He recently completed a doctor of education in administrator leadership and his dissertation focused on empowering non-Western grassroots schools and teachers. Heap's world travels over the past 15 years has put him in touch first-hand with a vast array of sincerely-held beliefs, such as Daoism, Shintoism, Buddhism, and Hinduism: religions that don't look toward a theistic being to control life and ethics but rather encourages people to look to themselves for the answer to life's questions.
"The past six years has seen a remarkable growth in the visibility and public awareness of non-theistic communities across the United States, with more and more women, men and young people standing up in their local areas to say "This is our community, too, and it's a place where we belong." This is a reflection of American pluralism, and in today's increasingly-globalized life, it's important that we recognize, embrace, and celebrate that we can have unity without uniformity" said Heap. "Non-theistic people are productive and ethical members of our society. It brings me pleasure to help draw attention to community service projects that are being led by members of the nearly-80 local coalitions that are providing positive social change in their communities. This is an unequivocal demonstration that no one sincerely-held belief has a monopoly on morality nor is there an equable established edict for ethical living."
Reaching out to the like-minded isn't the only goal of UnitedCoR. "Non-theistic folks are a regular part of communities all over the area," concluded Heap. "Non-theists are your friends and neighbors, your coworkers and family members. The non-theistic communities I support focus on service, and we care deeply about bringing justice and help to others: doing good without having to believe in a deity."
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The United Coalition of Reason (www.UnitedCoR.org) works to raise the visibility and sense of unity among local groups in the community of reason by assisting with funding and expertise to help local coalition groups cooperate toward common goals.
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