Inspired by Empathy and Creativity, guided by Reason
THE FORUM ON THE MILITARY CHAPLAINCYP.O.Box 151655, Austin, TX 78715-1655Humanist chaplain support Statement of PrincipleStatement text printed directly from http://forumonthemilitarychaplaincy.org/resources/timeto-embrace-a-chaplaincy-for-all-the-troops/on 8/14, 11AM We, the undersigned, support this statement which calls on our national leaders to assure that military chaplains can adequately address the needs of the men and women in the Armed Service by providing support to humanists and other nontheists and by accepting otherwise qualified chaplain candidates who represent nontheistic beliefs.
THE GREAT SCHOOL VOUCHER FRAUDby Edd DoerrIntroductionShould government(s) compel taxpayers to support religion-based and other private schools? This question has vexed the United States—and such other countries as Great Britain, Northern reland, Canada, Australia, the Netherlands, and France—for over two centuries. Controversies over this question extend back to the beginning of the American republic but have been intensifying over the past half century, reaching crisis proportions since the elections of 2010.(Read More)
"Humanist Chaplaincy Opposition Exposes Military Discrimination"In the Military, religious members have access to chaplains that address their needs, to help them through grief, to cope with the negative consequences of war and to get through existential crises. However, non-religious military members are not accorded the same treatment. We are asking for values-based support for humanists from all chaplains and in this case for the opportunity to have humanists serve as chaplains representing humanism.(Read More)
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against WomenCEDAW, formally known as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, is a landmark international agreement that affirms principles of fundamental human rights and equality for women and girls. Signed by President Jimmy Carter in 1979, it is among President Obama’s top three treaty priorities.CEDAW ratification would strengthen the United States as a global leader in standing up for women and girls. It would amplify the U.S. voice in defending women’s human rights around the world, continuing that proud tradition. Presidents Reagan, Bush and Clinton ratified similar agreements on torture, genocide and race; the American public strongly supports the principles and values of education, equality, fairness and basic human rights that CEDAW embodies.(Read More)
Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)The Institute for Science and Human Values, in accordance with the provisions of the NeoHumanist Statement of Secular Principles and Values, lobbies to promote and protect the Violence against Women Act.VAWA’s programs support state, tribal and local efforts to address the pervasive and insidious crimes of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking. These programs have made great progress towards reducing the violence, helping victims to be healthy and feel safe and holding perpetrators accountable. Since its original passage in 1994, VAWA has dramatically enhanced our nation’s response to violence against girls and women, boys and men. More victims report domestic violence to the police and the rate of non-fatal intimate partner violence against women has decreased by 64%.The sexual assault services program in VAWA helps rape crisis centers keep their doors open to provide the frontline response to victims of rape. VAWA provides for a coordinated community approach, improving collaboration between law enforcement and victim services providers to better meet the needs of victims. These comprehensive and cost-effective programs not only save lives, they also save money. In fact, VAWA saved nearly $12.6 billion in net averted social costs in just its first six years.(Read More)
D.C.’s Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination ActApril 2015• The D.C. Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act of 2014 (RHNDA) is about basic fairness. People should be judged at work based on their performance, not on their personal, private reproductive health care decisions. Everyone should have the ability to make private health decisions including whether, when, and how to start a family, without fear of losing their jobs or facing retribution from their employers. • The RHNDA was passed by the D.C. Council to protect employees and their families from discrimination. Members of Congress who are not accountable to the residents of the District should not interfere with D.C.’s local laws.• Freedom of religion and belief is a core American value. Religious freedom protects the right to both believe and act on religious beliefs, but does not authorize actions that discriminate against or harm others. Bosses are entitled to their religious beliefs, but that does not mean that they can use those beliefs to discriminate against their employees based on their personal reproductive health care decisions.
What is and how did the Religious FreedomRestoration Act (RFRA) come into being?by Toni Van Pelt
RFRA places religious tenets above the rule of law. The use of RFRA by theCongress, the Supreme Court and the White House threatens and is well on itsway to destroying U.S. democracy.The beginning…The Employment Division, Department of Human Resources of Oregon vs. Smith, 494 U.S. 872 (1990), is a United States Supreme Court case thatdetermined that the state could deny unemployment benefits to a person fired forviolating a state prohibition on the use of peyote, on the job, even though the use of the drug was part of a religious ritual. The Court ruled although states have thepower to accommodate otherwise illegal acts done in pursuit of religious beliefs, they are not required to do so.
OPPOSE TITLE I PORTABILITY TO PRIVATE SCHOOLSStates Should Not Have the Option to Authorize Federal School Vouchers
Turning Title I into a Voucher Harms Students in Poverty and Public Schools Recognizing the compounded impact of poverty on student learning, Congress designed Title I to fund public schools with high concentrations of students in poverty. Under the program, high-poverty districts and schools benefit from increased federal investment by taking advantage of “economies of scale” to combine resources for school-wide services and whole school reforms targeted at economically and academically needy groups of students. Allowing the funds to instead “follow the child” to that student’s private school, regardless of whether the school needs those funds, dilutes the funds, stretches the dollars thinner, and diminishes the effectiveness of the funding. Furthermore, tuition at a private school will far exceed the amount of a Title I voucher. It is unlikely, therefore, that students in poverty will be able to use the voucher to attend a private school. Taxpayer Money Should Support Public Schools Not Private Schools Open and non-discriminatory in their acceptance of all students, American public schools are a unifying factor among the diverse range of ethnic and religious communities in our society. Public schools are the only schools that must meet the needs of all students. They do not turn children or families away. They serve children with physical, emotional, and mental disabilities, those who are extremely gifted and those who are learning challenged. Vouchers undermine these goals by taking taxpayer money out of the public school system and funneling it to private schools.
Women Who Rely on the Military for Their Health Care DeserveComprehensive Contraceptive Coverageand Family Planning Counseling:Support the Access to Contraception forWomen Servicemembers and Dependents ActThe Access to Contraception for Women Servicemembers and Dependents Act of 2014 ensures that all servicemembers and their dependents who rely on the military health care system have comprehensive contraceptive coverage and family planning counseling. Access to this basic preventive health service will benefit servicemembers, their families, and the military broadly.
Charitable Choice and Faith-based CampaignCharitable Choice, The Clinton/Ashcroft Legacy, the Faith-Based and Community Initiative, courtesy of Bush and now the Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, Obama’s SpinInconsistent with the constitution:"Charitable choice" and "faith based initiatives" allow government funds to flow directly to houses of worship and other pervasively religious organizations. Government subsidies for religion violate the First Amendment's Establishment Clause. The Institute for Science and Human Values has, since its inception, (and prior due to the work of its current public policy director) worked to end Charitable Choice provisions in Congressional bills and Faith Based Offices in the Executive Branch of government since charitable choice was first introduced in Congress during the Clinton administration. Secular and religious groups joining together prevailed in the Congress during the George Bush presidency in stopping or deleting Charitable Choice provisions in bills and acts. The struggle moved to the White House where George Bush, determined to satisfy radical religious supporters opened the first office of Faith-based andCommunity Initiative funding religious organizations to provide taxpayer’s beneficial programs with taxpayers dollars via federal government agencies. It was our hope that President Obama would end this cozy relationship between government and religion. Instead he put his own stamp on it; first by changing the name to the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnership. He constituted the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. This council was originally created by President George W. Bush, and reorganized under President Obama by executive order on February 5th 2009. The President has tasked them with the creation of several new initiatives to find new ways for both secular and faith-based organizations to better serve their communities.(Read More)
"Statement onWomen’sRightsandNon-State TerroristGroups"I amamazedat the lackofoutrageand movementagainstthemen,andnowthe womenof ISISwhoareunabashedly enslaving,sexually andphysically assaultingwomen,girls andnodoubtboys,on a daily basis.As the worldwitnessedthesocialmediaonslaughtagainst adentistwhotraveled to Africatoslay a lion,(andI am oneofthose) I askwhereis theonslaughtinsocialmediaandelsewhereagainstanarmyofmenwhocanbarely bereferred toashumanbeings using the name oftheirreligionandtheirgodtomistreat womeninthis way?Theonly action I haveseentakentodatehas beenbythe UnitedNationswomen'snon-governmentalorganization(NGO)ZontaInternational(ZI) . ZontaInternationalisanorganizationpledgedto empowerwomenat theglobalandlocallevels,andtopromotejusticeanduniversalrespect for humanrightsandfundamentalfreedoms.ISHVisproudto workincoalitionwith ZI. ISHVhasbecome asignatory to thestatementandthebackground thatfollows:AswehaveheardinnewsreportingandreportsfromUNspecialrapporteursandspecialrepresentatives,includingthose of theSpecialRepresentativeof the Secretary-GeneralforSexualViolenceinConflict,about theabduction,rape,tortureandmurder ofwomenandgirls,whichhasbecome a methodofterrorizingpeopleandforcingthem to leavetheirhomes tosurvive the atrocities facedspecifically bywomenandgirls runrampant."Statement onWomen’sRightsandNon-State TerroristGroups"BackgroundViolenceagainstwomen hasbeenusedinconflictsthroughout theknownhistory ofman. Inmoderntimes, ithasoftenbeenmetwithdenialandsilence. It has seldombeenmentionedinourhistory books.Slowly,itisbeingbrought tolight.TheUnitedNations hascreatedunderstandingof theneedto protectwomenandgirls duringconflictandpost-conflictsituations,andof the rolewomenmusthaveinconflictresolutionandpeace-building. TheUNSecurity Council‘Resolution1325onWomenandPeaceandSecurity’,adopted in2000,wasanimportantmilestone.TheUnitedNations dependsonthesupportandactionsofits MemberStates.Non-stateextremistandterroristgroupscreate newconditions.They movebetweencountries andactacrossnationalborders.UNreports,includingthoseoftheSpecialRepresentativeof the Secretary-Generalfor SexualViolenceinConflict,inform theinternationalcommunity ofanincreasein theabduction,rapeandsellingintoslavery ofwomenandgirlsinconflictareas.Inthesesituations,violenceagainstwomenis usedtodegrade,humiliateand dehumanizepeopleandtoactively displacethem.Theso-called“IslamicState”, ISIS, is auniquechallenge. It iswell-run,disciplinedandcontrols considerableterritory. Itcombines a narrow andselectiveinterpretationofreligiousrulingswithsophisticateduseofinformationtechnology.ISIS notonly uses violenceagainstwomenas atacticofterror andasmeansofeconomy but makes it part ofideology.Violenceagainst‘infidel’or ‘heretic’womenandgirlsis presented as ajustifiedact."StatementTheinternationalcommunity mustjoineffortstostop thesystematicviolationofwomen’shumanrights perpetratedbyISISandother non-stateactors. It isnotonly a women’sissuebutalso acomplex emergency and agrowingthreat to internationalpeaceandsecurity.Expressingconcernandcondemning the use ofsexualviolenceas‘tactic ofwar’isnotenough. It takesstrongcommitmentandwillfulaction.ZontaInternationalcalls on theUnitedNationsanditsMember Statestocommitto stopviolenceagainstwomen inconflicts,andtofind effectiveshort-termandlong-term workingmethods.Thosemayincludeto·*Supportnations andregionswith the willandcapacity to stoptheterritorialexpansionofextremistandterrorist groups.*Mobilizehumanitarianaid torefugees,counteractstigmatizationofsurvivorsofviolenceandhelpthem rebuildtheirlives.*Developresponse to violentforcesincooperationwithmoderatereligious leaderswhounderstand theissues.*Preventrecruitingofgroupmembers throughinformationandeducation,andthroughsocialandeconomic initiatives,directedatthoseatrisk.*Findways to block thegroups’incomesources suchasoil,naturalgas, mineralsandantiquities.*Holdperpetrators accountablefor theircrimes.*Involve affected countriesinseriouseffortsto solveconflicts.*Strengthenthe political will forimplementingSecurity Councilresolutions.ISHVjoinsZI in acallfortheendofinhumantreatmentofothers andto holdperpetratorsaccountablefor theircrimes.Women'slivesdependonouractions, sothequestionis "Whatactionswillwetake?"Pleasejoininthe outcry bybringingthis tothe attentionofyour friends,family andneighbors.ia.Start a petition.Tweetaboutit.Post onFacebook.Organize!Fuel the outrage.Womens' livesdependon it.
HEALTH EQUITY & ACCESS UNDER THE LAW (HEAL) FOR IMMIGRANT WOMEN & FAMILIES ACT OF 2015 Health fairness in the HEAL for Immigrant Women & Families Act of 2015: Immigrants work hard, pay taxes, and contribute to our communities and our economy, yet are often denied access to the health care programs their tax dollars support. Almost two decades ago, politicians began enacting harmful restrictions that put affordable health coverage out of reach for millions of immigrants in the United States. These policy and legal barriers undermine access to life-saving preventive and primary care, threaten the economic security of families and communities, and limit the ability of immigrants to fully contribute to our nation’s shared prosperity. These restrictions disproportionately harm women, who are the majority of immigrants. Immigrant women are also particularly likely to be low-income, young, and uninsured—all characteristics linked to a high risk of negative health outcomes.
International Call to Address Inequalities and Social Justice in Climate Policy October - November 2015Preamble Socioeconomic inequality is now understood to be integrally linked to the climate crisis. Inequalities drive climate change, and inequalities result from climate change. Climate change is an injustice to the underprivileged and aggravates inequality. Inequalities, both within and among nations, block agreements and pathways that could lead to sustainability. This vicious cycle of climate change and socioeconomic inequalities must be broken. As we engage in mitigation, adaptation, and the transition to a low-carbon economy, we must ensure that inequalities are substantially reduced. I. Climate change affects people in very unequal ways, thus compounding inequalities. Poor and marginalized people suffer the consequences of environmental degradation more directly and severely. Those most likely to bear the brunt of climate change are those who suffer from disadvantage or discrimination, whether on the basis of income, wealth, gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, health, ability, legal or migration status, or other characteristics or identities. Inequalities are compounded when poor and marginalized people are forced to live in locations more severely impacted by climate change, and vulnerable to storms, flooding, drought, landslides, or other environmental impacts. Inequalities are compounded when poor communities do not have the resources to respond to disasters or adapt readily to climate change. Women and girls are particularly impacted. Women and girls are more likely to care for children, the sick and the elderly, to prepare food, to fetch water, to work the soil. All of these activities become more difficult as the climate degenerates. Furthermore, when climate impacts destroy economic opportunities at home, women and girls are less able to travel safely to seek new opportunities. Despite suffering more severe impacts from climate change, poor and marginalized people generate significantly less impact on the environment as measured by standardized metrics such as consumption or carbon output. This is true for both poorer nations and for poorer socioeconomic classes within countries. It is unethical that those who do less harm should suffer more.(Read More)
Supreme Court to hear arguments for Zubik v. BurwellOn March 23, 2016, the Supreme Court will hear arguments for Zubik v. Burwell, seven consolidated cases brought by nonprofit religious organizations that claim that the employee contraceptive coverage benefit in the Affordable Care Act violates their religious freedom.The petitioners in these cases, including Priests for Life, Southern Nazarene University and Little Sisters of the Poor, assert that filing a form or another declaration indicating their objection to the contraceptive coverage violates their religious freedom under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. In effect, they want a complete exemption, which means leaving their thousands of employees and students without access to critical health services entirely. It is clear that this litigation is actually about imposing one set of moral views on others, even if it disregards the will of individuals who work for and study at those institutions.We, the undersigned members of the Coalition for Liberty & Justice, express our support for the right of all workers, students and their dependents to access contraceptive coverage under the Affordable Care Act. They have the right to make personal decisions based on their own beliefs. Religious freedom is not a weapon to carve out rights for some while imposing beliefs on others. Broad exemptions from laws—meant to protect the rights, health, dignity and equality of individuals—interfere with the exercise of personal conscience and religious liberty and harm people by preventing them from obtaining services.We reject the petitioners’ attempts to impose their ideas about religion on others, as well as their attempts to block employees’ and students’ health benefits under the Affordable Care Act. Such exemptions undermine equality, impede personal decision‐making and jeopardize students’ and workers’ well being.(Read More)
Open Statement on Zika VirusAs organizations supportive of a robust and comprehensive public health response to the rapid spread of Zika virus in the Latin America and Caribbean region, we write to express our support for efforts by the U.S. government to provide resources to aid in the global response to this international public health emergency. The spread of Zika virus, and the particular health risks it may pose to women who are pregnant or may become pregnant, highlights significant gaps in access to reproductive health care in the Latin America and Caribbean region.We call on the U.S. government response to Zika virus to include comprehensive reproductive, maternal, and child health services through bilateral programs as well as through contributions to UNFPA. In order to support women in making and carrying out decisions about their health, this must specifically include access to family planning information, education, services, and contraceptive commodities including emergency contraception. It must also provide maternal and child health services to support healthy pregnancy outcomes and families with children who have microcephaly. In particular, UNFPA, with a presence in over 40 countries in the region, is best equipped to provide these services immediately to the communities most in need with additional support from the U.S. government and in coordination with the World Health Organization and Pan-American Health Organization.(Read More)
The Great Voucher FraudShould government(s) compel taxpayers to support religion-based and other private schools? This question has vexed the United States—and such other countries as Great Britain, Northern Ireland, Canada, Australia, the Netherlands, and France—for over two centuries. Controversies over this question extend back to the beginning of the American republic but have been intensifying over the past half century, reaching crisis proportions since the elections of 2010. In 2011, Indiana’s Republican legislature and governor passed a school voucher bill more expansive than anything previously adopted by any state. In 2012 Louisiana’s Republican- dominated legislature and governor passed the most radical, far-reaching plan for public funding of religion-based and other private schools in our history. In November of 2012 Florida voters will be asked to decide in a referendum to approve an amendment to the state constitution to allow tax aid to church-based schools. In May of 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney expressed support for school vouchers. Combined with this drive to provide public funding for religious and other private schools has been an unprecedented tsunami of assaults on the public schools serving 90% of our K-12 students. These assaults involve wholesale slashing of public school budgets, layoffs of teachers and other school personnel, increases of class sizes, elimination of instructional and other programs, intense propaganda campaigns against teachers and teacher unions, and attacks on the very idea of religiously-neutral, democratic public education. Together, this two-front war on religious freedom and public education constitutes nothing short of a major national crisis. Read this position paper to see how these crises are among the most serious in our history, and how they could have profound, perhaps irreversible effects on our future. It will argue that We the People have both the power and the duty to end the threats to our most important principles and institutions. This paper will place the school voucher and related issues in historical perspective and show that all plans and programs for diverting public funds to religion-based and other private schools are inimical to the vital interests of the overwhelming majority of Americans.(Read More)
Congress Should Lift the Ban on Abortion on Military Facilities Because it Harms Service Members and Their Families All women deserve access to safe abortion care in their communities, including members of our military and their families. Unfortunately, since 1996, federal lawi has prohibited the Department of Defense from providing abortion care at military treatment facilities (MTFs) except in cases of rape or incest and where the woman’s life is endangered. This restriction, known as the facilities ban, increases the hardship that service women and dependents face in accessing abortion care within the United States and overseas. Because federal law also separately restricts TRICARE from comprehensively covering the full range of pregnancy-related care, including abortion care, our service women and families must overcome significant hurdles just to access abortion care. Until the coverage restriction is eliminated, Congress should—at the very least—lift the facilities ban and allow service women and military family members to access and pay for abortion care on MTFs. The members of our Armed Forces and their families deserve no less than the best medical care that our country can provide and should have access to abortion care on military treatment facilities.(Read More)