(Washington, DC, Jan. 18, 2017)—The American Humanist Association reminds incoming members of Congress to uphold their duty to maintain the separation of church and state in a letter sent today warning them not to join the Congressional Prayer Caucus (CPC).
The Congressional Prayer Caucus, founded in 2005 by former US Rep. J. Randy Forbes (VA-04), is an official caucus of the US House of Representatives that promotes legislative prayer and other state endorsement of religious activities, in violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, such as the use of the phrase “In God We Trust” as the national motto. Rather than divide our nation through religious favoritism, the American Humanist Association urges incoming members of Congress to represent all Americans, both religious and nonreligious, and to stand for a secular government that remains religiously neutral.
“One in four Americans do not identify with any religion, and this is expected to grow,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association, in reference to a study by the Public Religious Research Institute. “Legislators must fairly represent all of their constituents, including those who are nonreligious. The separation of church and state is a fundamental pillar of our democracy that our representatives must respect and uphold.”
In 2017, the American Humanist Association will continue to strengthen its advocacy efforts on behalf of church-state separation and the rights and civil liberties of nonreligious and nontheistic Americans. Key among such efforts will be protecting the Johnson Amendment, a piece of legislation that forbids religious organizations from endorsing political candidates, which President-elect Donald Trump has threatened to overturn. The American Humanist Association has also reminded members of Congress of their duty to represent Americans of all religious beliefs by sending them copies of A Jefferson Bible for the Twenty-First Century, which contains the best wisdom and values from the major world religions and from secular humanism without mentioning the supernatural beliefs of these religions.
“The humanist movement is ready to defend the rights of nontheist Americans,” said Matthew Bulger, legislative director of the American Humanist Association. “We urge incoming members of Congress to show their support for the freedom of all Americans to believe or not believe by refusing to support the Congressional Prayer Caucus and to stand against any legislation that would threaten the separation of church and state.”
A copy of the American Humanist Association’s letters to members of Congress can be viewed here.
Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, DC, the American Humanist Association (AHA) works to protect the rights of humanists, atheists, and other nontheistic Americans. The AHA advances the ethical and life-affirming philosophy of humanism, which—without beliefs in any gods or other supernatural forces—encourages individuals to live informed and meaningful lives that aspire to the greater good of humanity.