National Atheist Group Setting Up Shop In Tennessee
by Heather Graf
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A national atheist group is setting its sights on Tennessee, and specifically, the state legislature.
The Secular Coalition For America, since 2002, has been lobbying at the federal level on issues involving the separation of religion and government.
"But what we're seeing more and more is that some of the most egregious legislation that attempts to co-mingle religion and government is being introduced at the state level," said Lauren Anderson Youngblood, with the Secular Coalition For America.
She says Tennessee's so-called Monkey Bill, that allows teachers to critique evolution, is exactly the type of legislation they're talking about.
As a result, the coalition is now launching a local chapter in every single state.
The idea is to train local atheists and agnostics to lobby and connect with lawmakers here in Tennessee.
"We are not attempting to tell anyone that their personal religious beliefs are wrong or to attack their personal religious beliefs," said Anderson Youngblood. "What we're really saying is, yes it is your right as an American citizen to hold your religious beliefs, we just don't want those religious beliefs inserted into our government."
NewsChannel 5 spoke with several state lawmakers today, both Democrat and Republican. We wanted to get their reaction to the news of an atheist lobbying group coming to Tennessee.
Almost every one of them had the same response, saying anyone is entitled to lobby to the General Assembly, but it's then up to each individual legislator to decide whether they'll listen.
The Secular Coalition For America will hold a conference call next Tuesday at two p.m. for anyone interested in joining their local chapter.
Organizers say it's not limited to non-believers. They say anyone who supports the separation of church and state is welcome to participate.