Coalition formed to watch church-state issues

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 107 views 

A new lobbying group is hoping to make in-roads in Arkansas.

According to a press release distributed Tuesday (June 12), the Secular Coalition for America will begin organizing efforts in Arkansas later this month. The initial organizing call will be held on Thursday, June 28 at noon via conference call with details available at

The national group says its Arkansas chapter will lobby state lawmakers and local officials in favor of a strong separation of religion and government.

“Some of the most egregious violations of church state separation are being promoted and passed at the state level, and we absolutely must act to stop it,” said Edwina Rogers, Executive Director of the Secular Coalition for America. “There are 40 million Americans who don’t identify with any religion, but our political influence has been limited because we have not been organized. This year, that changes.”

The group cited two developments in Arkansas as inspiration for a local chapter:
• Atheists cannot legally hold public or serve on a jury. The Arkansas state constitution reads: “No person who denies the being of a God shall hold any office in the civil departments of this State, nor be competent to testify as a witness in any Court.”

• In January the Arkansas Department of Human Services issued a rule that opens the door to religious instruction at state-funded pre-schools, as long as it occurs outside of a prescribed seven-hour period of required instruction – a clear deviation from federal case law.

Other state chapters are being planned, the group said.