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Secular Coalition Commends Lawmakers Who Put Science Above Politics

Washington, D.C. — On the eve of Charles Darwin’s 207th birthday, the Secular Coalition for America applauds the steadily increasing number of elected officials at the state and federal level who recognized February 12, 2016 as “Darwin Day.” This includes a record number of Representatives and Senators who cosponsored Darwin Day resolutions in Congress.

For the second year in a row, the Secular Coalition for America worked with Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) to secure the introduction of a Darwin Day resolution in the Senate (S. Res 337) while the American Humanist Association, a member organization of the Secular Coalition, partnered with Rep. James Himes (D-CT) to introduce the House version (H. Res 548). The resolutions celebrate the achievements of the biologist Charles Darwin and affirm the scientific consensus supporting the theory of evolution. Both resolutions achieved a historic number of cosponsors though neither were brought up for a vote.

“We’re thrilled that so many representatives stood up for science and science education” said Larry Decker, the Executive Director of the Secular Coalition for America. “But by not passing the resolutions, Congress has missed an opportunity to send a clear message that science education in the United States is a priority, not a political issue.”

Five of the Secular Coalition for America’s state chapters submitted requests for Darwin Day proclamations to their governors. Only the Secular Coalition for Virginia succeeded in securing a proclamation from Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, which read in part “…the anniversary of Darwin’s birthday is an appropriate period on which to celebrate, reflect, and act on the principles of intellectual bravery, perpetual curiosity, and hunger for truth, which contribute to the well-being of all people.” Delaware Governor Jack Markell was the only other governor to issue a Darwin Day proclamation.

This contrasts sharply with the reply from Georgia Governor Nathan Deal who rejected the proclamation on the grounds that it was “too political.” Governor Deal has already issued 51 proclamations for 2016 including one for a “Day of Prayer” and a “Respect for Human Life Day” which contains explicitly anti-choice rhetoric. Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy dismissed a Darwin Day proclamation on the grounds that the previous year’s request had been rejected.

“We’re not going to wait for a governor’s proclamation to defend science education” Decker said. “The Secular Coalition will continue to lead the charge against any legislation that threatens our education system by introducing junk science into public school classrooms.”

Contact: Larry T. Decker, [email protected], (202-299-1091 ext.207)

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The Secular Coalition for America is the nation’s premier advocacy organization representing atheists, humanists, agnostics, and other nontheists. Its mission is to increase the visibility of and respect for nontheistic viewpoints in the United States, and to protect and strengthen the secular character of our government as the best guarantee of freedom for all. The Secular Coalition represents 18 voting member organizations. Find out more about the Secular Coalition at www.secular.org.

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