Led by the Secular Coalition for America, representatives from leading Atheist, Freethought, Humanist and other non-believer organizations met earlier today with White House officials in an historic gathering.
Dr. Ed Buckner, President of American Atheists, praised the Obama Administration for "giving us our rightful seat at the table in the discussion over public policy."
"Over 13% of the population is considered 'non-religious,' and this includes millions of Atheists, Freethinkers, Humanists, Rationalists, and other citizens," said Buckner. "We are committed to the separation of church and state and to equality for non-believers in the political arena. Religious speakers must not continue to be given special privileges."
Representatives from American Atheists included: Dr. Buckner; AA Vice President and National Spokesperson Dave Silverman; Vice President and Military Director Kathleen Johnson; Indra Zuno, AA general member, translator, and writer; Ellen Birch, Chair of the American Atheists Life Membership Committee and systems engineer; and Camille A. Brewer, AA general member, political/freethought activist and art expert.
As part of the official briefing, American Atheists Vice President and Military Director Kathleen Johnson told White House representatives: "I have witnessed firsthand how service members who are openly non-theist have been harassed by their commanders, leaders, and peers, and have been disrespected by their subordinates for failing to hold certain religious beliefs."
Johnson called for the Obama Administration to "demonstrate its commitment to improving the climate for non-theists by ensuring nominees to key senior leadership positions answer hard questions intended to identify if they hold views detrimental to non-theists and if so, that such views be considered a disqualification for that officer.
Johnson also called for those holding non-theist convictions to enjoy the status of "a protected class throughout the Armed Services on par with the protections afforded to women, minorities, and those belonging to minority faith groups."
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