The following is the text of an email I just sent out. If you're interested in secular government - even if you don't live in West Virginia - you might be interested:

You may be aware that the Secular Coalition for America is working to set up a chapter in each state. Their stated purpose is to "bring together secular Americans in each state to influence government officials, legislation, and regulations." Having already succeeded in setting up chapters in several states, on Thursday, October 18th they held an initial conference call concerning the possibility of setting up a chapter here in West Virginia. Unfortunately, only two secular West Virginia residents were on the call - William, who lives near Charleston, and me.

As you know, church-state issues are rearing up in many states, and WV is no exception. For example: WV HB 2126 would exempt children receiving an exemption from compulsory school attendance, in favor of church school, from standardized testing requirements. WV HB 2564 would designate the first Thursday in May the West Virginia Day of Prayer. WV HB 2662 would exempt existing churches from paying tax on propane and other forms of heating oil (Sources: Secular Coalition for West Virginia Monthly Conference Call Agenda; see: http://secular.org/event/secular-coalition-west-virginia-monthly-co...; and the West Virginia Legislature bill tracking site, http://www.legis.state.wv.us/billstatus_personalized/persbills_logi...).

Being interested in church-state separation, but new to WV (moved here in December 2011), I'm concerned about this kind of legislation. You might be too. Being a bit of an optimist as well, I like to think we can become a force to be reckoned with. Provided we get involved, that is.

Now, maybe it's not my place to be doing this, but since the Secular Coalition isn't familiar with what local groups exist, I thought it would be worth calling your attention to this effort in the hope of having more people join the next call. It's happening on November 15th, and while the goal is to get as many people actively involved as possible, there's no obligation (or pressure) to do so. Even if you don't consider yourself the political type, you can join in just to listen.

You can learn more at http://secular.org/states/chapters/west_virginia. Or, if you prefer, feel free to email me. I'll be glad to help, if I can.

Thanks for your time & consideration! I hope you'll join William & me on the next conference call!

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Tags: activism, secularism

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