The Washington Times - June 24, 2013, 12:30PM

The Secular Coalition of America on Monday reported a “positive step” in opening lines of communication between the White House and the “nontheistic community” after the group’s executive director and others held a recent meeting with administration officials.

“We are pleased that the White House is looking at ways to better include the nontheistic community,” said Edwina Rogers, the group’s executive director. “The administration seemed to recognize the need for nontheistic inclusion and seemed open to finding areas where we can work together.”


Ms. Rogers and others met with Melissa Rogers, director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, and the Rev. David Meyers, director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

The news comes as the administration is taking heat from the Roman Catholic Church, which which is fighting a provision in the president’s health care law that requires religious-affiliated institutions to provide free birth control for their employees. Recent comments about Catholic schools that Mr. Obama made during a trip to Ireland also drew criticism from some in the Catholic community.

The White House has released no statements on the latter issue. An administration official told BuzzFeed that there is nothing more to say “beyond what the president said in his speech.”

“Doors are opening for the secular community like never before, and we thank Melissa Rogers for recognizing the significant contributions nonbelievers can make toward a better society,” said Maggie Ardiente, director of communications and development at the American Humanist Association. “We’re making tremendous progress, and we must continue to connect with lawmakers at the federal level to make our issues known.”

The Secular Coalition represents 11 member organizations, more than 120 endorsing organizations and advocates at the federal level “to strengthen and protect the secular character of the government and to increase the respect and visibility of nontheistic viewpoints.” It also has chapters in all 50 states that advocate at the state level.