So what exactly is going on with UnitedCoR?
Since our announcement of February 5th, the Secular Coalition (Secular Coalition for America (SCA) and Secular Coalition for America Education Fund (SCAEF)) have reached out to many of our member organizations and the UnitedCoR local affiliates to assess their individual needs and to develop strategies for SCAEF helping all of these local communities grow and thrive.
Our commitment to UnitedCoR was to spend the first 120 days gathering input before developing SCAEF’s initial plans and priorities. We are on schedule, but some questions have been raised that we believe should be shared with all of you to ensure you are fully informed. Please review the FAQ's below and feel free to reach out if you have any further questions.
Q: Are the Secular Coalition for America and United Coalition for Reason (UnitedCoR) merging into one organization?
A: No. UnitedCoR only has asked SCAEF, the Secular Coalition for America Education Fund, to take over management of the UnitedCoR local affiliate programs. A key objective is to manage and strengthen UnitedCoR local affiliates by helping them build productive relationships with neighboring community groups. The SCAEF staff will help the local UnitedCoR affiliates to coordinate with like-minded groups on specific projects best suited to each affiliate’s strengths and interests. These relationships will empower UnitedCoR affiliates to execute increasingly ambitious and impactful projects.
UnitedCoR will continue to exist as a separate entity that may develop new programs in the future. UnitedCoR has licensed its local affiliate materials and assets to SCAEF for use to assist the UnitedCoR local affiliates to thrive.
Q: Why is the Secular Coalition for America Education Fund (SCAEF) taking over management of the UnitedCoR Local Affiliate program?
A: It is SCAEF’s educational mission to empower local activists to educate their communities and their lawmakers about secular values and to engage in the political process in an effort to increase the visibility and respect for nontheistic viewpoints. SCAEF does not endorse particular candidates, nor does it engage in direct lobbying, which is SCA’s mission.
UnitedCoR supports the growth of nontheistic communities and facilitates cooperation and collective action among local nontheistic groups located in the same region. UnitedCoR’s work is wholly compatible with SCAEF’s work and its needs are compatible with SCAEF’s management skills. The Secular Coalition for America has 19 member organizations. Many of these national organizations have local chapters/branches/affiliates. Some of these local groups participate in local UnitedCoR organizations along with independent local groups. By providing resources for local groups to engage in impactful advocacy, the SCAEF will strengthen the impact of both UnitedCoR and the local groups of SCA’s member organizations. Strong secular communities are the basis for impactful grassroots advocacy, which is what makes the success of SCAEF and UnitedCoR as separate organizations mutually beneficial and interdependent.
Both UnitedCoR and SCAEF believe that access to and use of SCAEF’s national platform and advocacy experience will empower UnitedCoR local affiliates with new resources they can use to engage in their advocacy work. Access to the SCAEF staff and network will increase the capacity of UnitedCoR affiliates to grow their communities. Furthermore, SCAEF’s own affiliation with SCA gives it access to the most current information about legislation in their states. Access to this information will assist UnitedCoR local affiliates by providing a selection of critical issues upon which to focus their activities, including Secular Values Voter grassroots initiatives, such as increasing turnout and mobilizing Secular Values Voters in the upcoming midterm elections (and beyond!).
Q: Does my donation to SCA or SCAEF now support United Coalition for Reason?
A: All donations to the SCA, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit, have been and will continue to be used to support its lobbying efforts at both the national and local level.
Tax-deductible donations to the SCAEF, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, have been and will continue to be used to support the educational mission of the Secular Coalition, which now includes working with UnitedCoR affiliate groups. The nature of SCAEF’s work remains the same. It has served and will continue to serve the SCA state chapters by providing educational assistance to support their local activities, including our Secular Values Voter campaign. By undertaking the management and educational support of the UnitedCoR affiliate groups, SCAEF is providing its services to a greater number of people with similar secular concerns.
Q: What is the difference between a chapter of the Secular Coalition for America and a local organization of the United Coalition of Reason?
A: Chapters of the Secular Coalition for America are statewide, meaning there is only one chapter per state, and they are extended branches of the Secular Coalition for America 501(c)(4). Their sole purpose is to lobby their state legislature and the Members of Congress representing their state to protect the separation of church and state and to bring visibility and respect to nontheists. The scope of the issues chapters may lobby on is limited to the national Secular Coalition for America public policy agenda. State chapters bring together individuals who lobby on the public policy agenda issues. They do not engage in social or charitable activities.
Coalitions of Reason (CoRs) are local umbrella organizations made up of local nontheistic groups that are geographically close to one another or part of the same region of a state. There can be many CoRs in one state depending on the size of the state and how active the secular community is in different regions of the state. While UnitedCoR serves to support local groups and facilitate cooperation among them, UnitedCoR is a bottom-up organization and local groups are the drivers of their respective communities’ agendas. Some groups are purely social in nature, some engage in charitable work, some in advocacy, and some do all of the above or a combination of these activities. Local groups involved in advocacy can work on any issue its members are motivated to work on, whether that be within the scope of the SCA or not.
Given that both the structure and mission of SCA state chapters and local CoRs are distinct, they are separate entities. However, their shared goal of visibility for nontheists is an opportunity to work together. Moving forward, SCAEF, through its educational programs, will work to foster and strengthen the mutually supportive relationship between SCA state chapters and local CoRs.
The success of UnitedCoR is rooted in its respect for the autonomy and individuality of its affiliates. The Secular Coalition recognizes this and plans to continue this time-tested strategy of giving UnitedCoR affiliates the freedom they need to thrive. Like UnitedCoR, the Secular Coalition believes that local groups know the needs of their communities best and that each affiliate should be run by local organizers.
Sarah M. Levin
Director of Grassroots and Community Programs
(202) 299-1091 ext. 202 // firstname.lastname@example.org