Episode 19 :: Secular Coalition for America :: Part One

| July 1, 2010 | 0 Comments

Sean Faircloth

Hi, everyone. I hope you’re having a good holiday weekend, if you’re in the states. And, I just realized through happy accident, today’s episode is about the very independence we’re celebrating. See what happens when I get a whole four hoursof sleep!

As Buddhists, part of our practice is seeing things as they are. Whatever comes up, observe it as it really is, neither accepting nor rejecting. And, as many of us have experienced directly, what we discover more often than not, moves us forward and helps us grow. Today, that’s what I’m going to ask you to do. To listen to something that may not be comfortable, but has an impact on your life, even though most of us — me included — have little awareness of it.

Today, as we enter this holiday weekend in which we celebrate freedom, we’re going to take a look at one of those freedoms we may take for granted. A freedom that is under more threat than we may be aware of. Not a lot of time is spent on this podcast talking about one part of it’s mission, which is addressing issues of separation of church and state. Today we’re going to do just that in our first part of a two-part episode.

Recently I was fortunate enough to spend a few days in the company of Sean Faircloth. Sean is the Executive Director of the Secular Coalition for America, a group that helps raise awareness of the importance of this separation, why it’s a good thing, how it impacts us in particular as members of what is often thought of as a fringe minority. Sean is inquisitive, intelligent, and passionate about what he does and why he does it. And, unlike many others who are not practicing Buddhists, Sean has very direct knowledge about secular Buddhist type points of view, as someone who read Stephen Batchelor’s Buddhism Without Beliefs when it first came out. Actually, our first day we didn’t even get to the interview you’re about to hear — Sean wonderfully and happily questioned me about Buddhist thought for the full afternoon, we didn’t get to me interviewing him until the next day.

Today’s podcast is a mix of that interview with Sean, interspersed with segments from his talk given the night before in Minnesota. I hope you’ll be patient with the sound, I’m still new at this — DJ Meissner is not a term you’re ever going to hear in everyday conversation. So sit back, relax, and have… some drink with red, white, and blue.

Founded in 2002, the Secular Coalition for America is a coalition of ten national, nontheistic organizations. Its purpose is to amplify the diverse and growing voice of the nontheistic community in the United States. They are located in Washington, D.C. for ready access to government, activist partners and the media. Their staff lobbies U.S. Congress on issues of special concern to their constituency.

While the Coalition was created expressly by and for nontheistic Americans, they also enthusiastically welcome the participation of religious individuals who share their view that freedom of conscience must extend to people of all faiths and of none. Accordingly, their staff works in cooperation with a variety of other organizations and coalitions where common ground exists on specific issues, and their e-mail Action Alert system is open to all who visit their site.

Secular Coalition for America holds that freedom of conscience, including religious freedom, is a fundamental American value as evidenced by the fact that this is the first freedom protected in the Bill of Rights. Freedom of conscience is best guaranteed by protecting and strengthening the secular character of our government. Religious tolerance, a necessary product of this freedom, must be extended to people of all religions and to those without religious beliefs.”

Secular Coalition for America is committed to promoting reason and science as the most reliable methods for understanding the universe and improving the human condition. Informed by experience and inspired by compassion, we encourage the pursuit of knowledge, meaning, and responsible ethical codes without reference to supernatural forces. We affirm the secular form of government as a necessary condition for the interdependent rights of religious freedom and religious dissent. We come together as national freethought organizations to cooperate in areas of mutual interest and to support each other in our efforts to uphold separation between government and religion for the benefit of all within the nontheistic community. As resources allow, we will actively cooperate in projects that support our position, with priority given to political action initiatives and public relations opportunities.”

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Music for This Episode

Shakuhachi Meditations

Shakuhachi Meditations

The music heard in the middle of the podcast is from Rodrigo Rodriguez’s CD, Shakuhachi Meditations. The tracks used in this episode are:

  • Kyuden No Kurayami

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Category: The Secular Buddhist Podcast

Ted Meissner

About the Author ()

Ted Meissner is the host of the podcast Present Moment: Mindfulness Practice and Science. He has been a meditator since the early 90’s, has been interviewed for Books and Ideas, Mindful Lives, and The Whole Leader podcasts, spoken about mindfulness with various groups including Harvard Humanist Hub, and has written for Elephant Journal and The International Journal of Whole Person Care. He is the Executive Director of the Secular Buddhist Association, host of the SBA’s official podcast The Secular Buddhist, and is on the Advisory Board for the Spiritual Naturalist Society.

Ted’s background is in the Zen and Theravada traditions, he is a regular speaker on interfaith panel discussions, and is interested in examining the evolution of contemplative practice in contemporary culture. Ted teaches Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) at the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care & Society, where he is the Manager of Online Programming and Community Development.

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