Secular Coalition for America Launches Colorado State Chapter

(From the press release by the Secular Coalition for America)

The Secular Coalition for America announced the official launch of the Secular Coalition for Colorado The Secular Coalition for Colorado is the first 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 Colorado will lobby state lawmakers in favor of a strong separation of religion and government.

Secular Coalition for Colorado Executive Board Co-Chairs, Ben Donahue, of Longmont, CO, and Murray Wallace, of Longmont, CO signed the "Memo of Understanding" that marks the official launch of the chapter, on Saturday, July 21, 2012 at the Colorado Secular Conference in Grand Junction, Colorado.

"Secularism is one of the most important and fundamental necessities of any government, and for years I have watched that being continuously and persistently eroded both at the federal and state level," said Secular Coalition for Colorado Co-Chair, Ben Donahue. "Colorado is a keystone state when it comes to secular politics. It has long been a kind of Mecca for certain groups of Evangelical Christians such as Focus on the Family, with a history of attempting to insert their particular brand of theology into our politics."

A recent Pew Forum study indicated that 37 percent of Colorado residents do not express an absolute belief in God, and 59 percent disagreed that "religion is very important to their lives," both of which contributed to Colorado’s rank as the 41st most religious state of 46 (some small states were grouped together for purposes of the study). Still Colorado has seen its share of attempts to insert religious theology into law, including numerous personhood ballot initiatives.

"Colorado, like many places, has a small but very vocal theocratic movement" said Secular Coalition for Colorado Co-Chair, Murray Wallace. "To ensure freedom for everyone, it’s imperative we do not allow religion to be imposed on our secular laws".

The most recent of these personhood amendments is being pushed by the Colorado Personhood Coalition for inclusion on the November ballot. The amendment seeks to define a fertilized egg as a "person". The proposed personhood amendment is based on religious dogma and has the ability to prevent people who don’t agree-both believers and non-believers-from receiving health services such as common birth control, intrauterine devices (IUDs), the morning-after pill. Additionally, the amendment has the potential to criminalize abortion in the state and could render illegal some fertilization methods, such as in vitro procedures, which actually help families having trouble conceiving to do so.

The chapter will likely take a stance on the so-called Religious Freedom Amendment, being pushed by Focus on the Family, for inclusion on the November ballot. The amendment seeks to protect a "person or religious organization’s right to act or refusal to act in a manner motivated by a sincerely held religious belief", which is already protected in Article II, Section 4 of the Colorado Constitution. The bill instead is a thinly veiled attempt at creating exemptions for religious groups or people from following the law.

Donahue says the Secular Coalition for Colorado is important to protect the state from attempts to insert religion into government that could have a drastic impact on the state "within a generation.