Inside the Beltway: White House reaches out to atheists, secularists

www.washingtontimes.com
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fairly difficult
The White House hosted a meeting with multiple nonreligious groups on Friday and their event was "productive," according to the Secular Coalition for America, a nonprofit lobbying organization.
"Together with our member organizations the American Humanist Association, American Atheists, Center for Inquiry, Ex-Muslims of North America, and the Freedom From Religion Foundation, we highlighted priorities from our coalition's Secular Agenda for the Biden-Harris administration and discussed what the administration can do to better uphold the rights of secular Americans," the coalition said in a follow-up statement about the meeting.

The organization said it encouraged the White House to "engage with secular organizations the way they do religious organizations" and also to rescind "harmful and discriminatory" actions that emerged during former President Donald Trump's time in office.

"By participating in this meeting, the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships displayed that they're open to embracing pluralism, diversity of thought and the secular community," the coalition said, calling the meeting "a welcomed divergence from the outlook and behaviors of the previous administration."

Among other things, Mr. Trump launched a White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative in 2018 to help faith-based organizations get equal access to government funding — somewhat similar to the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives created by former President George W. Bush in 2002. Former President Barack Obama followed up in 2012 with the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, which reached out to "nonprofit organizations, both secular and faith-based, to more effectively serve Americans in need."

The office was reestablished with an executive order by President Biden on Feb. 14; the order noted that the office "will not prefer one faith over another or favor religious over secular organizations."

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