New Jersey, Congress, Ukraine discussed on Opening Arguments


And that's a really important part and that's led by former ambassador samantha. Power susan rice. I'm sorry susan. Rice samantha power with a usa. Id but one of the masters is running that office and it coordinates policy all across the government and so it gives us an entry point on church state separation issues to all of these different offices so to the department of education which is really important to health and human services to the small business administration. All of these places where so much of the bad policy was happening under the trump administration. We now have an entry point into not just what the white house for symbolic things or executive action but to this massive machinery that not many people know about that's called federal rules making and that is where so much of this happens. It's not it's not law. It's not pass through congress. It's not even an executive order. It's this process that takes a long time but has often the force of law and we have to go. We have to follow that process. And that's that's a really big deal for us because it touches on so many areas of people's lives that they don't even think about that they don't they don't recognize until much later or until something has gone horribly wrong as is too often the case. So let's let's talk about neighborhood partnerships right that second half if i can kind of reconstruct the argument and straw bought. The religious argument in two thousand went sort of something like this. We have a an increasing reliance a lot of that due to republican gutting of social programs But allow me to editorialize on that but we have an increasing reliance on a social charity programs And the initial argument was hey look we have churches and faith based organizations that as part of their mission statement as part of their overall group. They also deliver actual charitable service. Now in a. I think on the frontline in policing those kinds of organizations that style themselves as charities and like you know had head over to you know war torn land with boxes full of bibles instead of boxes full food but that that is not to say right you and i. All of us have partnered with religious organizations that have been willing to work with secular folks on social justice issues. So right you know i. Can i get that kind of initial argument of. Hey give us a seat at the table. Don't shut us out. If we want to also help in distributing food to the homeless but let us participate. It seems to me there are really two problems as an atheist. Win when i look at that from the outside looking in like i think both of these were really well realized so for the past two decades. The first is seat at the table. Quickly expands to becoming the entire table and the second is that As there's less and less oversight of the programs you get more and more You have a kind of monolithic voice in the room and it's like well you know. Of course every time we send you know apples to orphans in ukraine like they should have a bible verse wrapped around them and that sort of thing. And so. When i think about it i think in addition to sort of making connections with the larger political infrastructure. I think okay part of why i want. American atheists in there is to reclaim the seat for secular charities at the table. And say hey. Let's not forget our overarching mission. And also be kind of policing those activities that turn into the opportunity for government sponsored proselytizing. I said a lot. I'll let you know those are those are all really important and correct points one of the core things that we walked in there as a coalition and said like what are some of the consensus asks the things that we want out of this meeting the that we're really concerned about number one is exactly what you said about making sure that when the administration is reaching out to community groups on the ground to do things like increase vaccination up to uptake which is a big thing right now. They're primarily focused on cove response and making sure that underrepresented communities are getting access to vaccinations because we know that For example people in the city of newark right now is unfortunately like in new jersey The city of newark is blogging behind the rest of the state in terms of vaccination uptake. And how do we leverage groups that have infrastructure on the ground to help people get vaccinated. Is what a lot of these meetings have been about for the last the entire this administration search and so what we asked was. You know when you're thinking about these programs we have this network of you know almost three hundred chapters slash affiliated local groups all across the country We'd like them to be welcome for part of that as well to help get access to those resources to make sure that they're older folks are folks who are not able to get out of the house or whatever are able to get out there and get vaccinated or that they can help staff and volunteer at these places that are that are doing things like that. So that's point number. One is just making sure that you're not limiting yourself to okay. Who do we have a easy call. Call sheet to make so we're only working with the catholic church right like the churches very pyrotechnical. You call one guy who calls tradition of minister Budget priests who call. They're deacons and so on. We don't quite have that but we do have really dedicated volunteers on the ground in all fifty states that do a lot of really good community work and so how can we all work together to make sure that everybody in this country has access to vaccines and who is getting the call. We wanna make sure that secular people in atheist groups and community groups are part of those those programs and to let them know that that network exists. and so that's already been a success. You know we we've been added to all of these meetings and we're we send them out to our affiliate so they can participate. So that's i mean that's an easy ask that's great. I do want to dwell. I'm glad that you know it wasn't easy. Ask an certainly you know happy that that that was the result from this administration should not pause too lightly on on that like ethic for a lot of folks the picture of organized atheist groups. Is you know trying to get under god taken off the money as opposed to which we should by the way no right. Yeah throw at us under the bus on that right but to point out. Oh hey don't we're we're out there on the front lines helping people get vaccinated because we believe in science. We don't have you know contrary organizing beliefs to the detriment of society. Anyway please kill people people that mobilized to bottle and create and br homebrew hand sanitizer. I mean that was a big project that a number of are group's did and donated thousands and thousands of bottles of hand sanitizer to their local community. Because they had the wherewithal to do that masks so on the the amount of time that spend on things like you said you know taking in in god. We trust off the money or removing ten commandments. Monument is much smaller at the local level than doing things like running a soup kitchen or feeding the feeding someone who's experiencing homelessness or anything like that so that that was point number one is just. Hey we have this network. You should utilize it because you know a quarter to a third of americans or non religious and a half. Don't attend church regularly. So let's make sure that those people are being spoken to as well so that was number one the other one or the other point is specific policy asks things that underpin a lot of the worst impulses of the trump administration and government memos. And you know things that are this. You just make your eyes glaze over if you're a casual observer of all of this and but that underpin so many of the legal opinions from the department of justice's office legal counsel memos that you know say why or how all of these executive agencies have to treat these cases that come down over the years like trinity lutheran. We don't have anything in our. And so what we walked in there and said hey you know. There's a bunch of these memos and sort of detritus that's built up over years. We should really clear this out and have the person who's running the department of justice's civil division some of it's in the supreme court by the way that detritus that out at the rather large dust bunnies that have but that's the thing is that it's not just in the courts. The executive branches in the executive branch as well that these memos just sit and they burrow in everywhere and they get referenced and so all of these rules are based on faulty premises. And you know bad foundations and so we need to clear that out and actually have good analysis and get that fixed and that's not something that anybody campaigns on but it's the sort of thing that really strong knowledgeable advocates can ask for and can point to it within the federal government because they have finite amount of time and they've got hundreds and hundreds of groups clamoring for attention and so we can point them directly to the spot pardon expression chapter and verse of exactly what the problem is..

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