I resign my leadership position with Secular Coalition for America

For immediate release

October 4, 2012 – 12:15PM EST

For more information, please contact Justin Vacula: http://www.skepticink.com/justinvacula/contact/

@justinvacula on Twitter

Justin Vacula resigns leadership position with Secular Coalition for America

Following a lengthy period of self-reflection and deliberation, I am freely resigning from my position as co-chair of the Secular Coalition for America’s Pennsylvania chapter.

The Secular Coalition for America was founded in order to “formalize a cooperative structure for visible, unified activism to improve the civic situation of citizens with a naturalistic worldview.” Unfortunately, some persons in this community who have been quite vocal in objecting to my appointment – and many who were quick to dismiss me — do not seem to be interested in that.

Instead of mainly focusing on issues such as religious privileging, defending the separation of church and state, strengthening the secular community, engaging in ‘real-life activism,’ improving the perception of secular individuals, or even constructively discussing how to constructively guide others who may err – a ‘you are with us or against us’ attitude is coupled with personal vendettas and whispering campaigns taking the stage regardless of concerns about the cohesion of the secular movement.

Organizations are attacked, leaders of major organizations are condemned, prominent authors are boycotted, and ‘real-life’ careers are targeted as a result of disagreements or misunderstandings which likely could have been resolved by a simple telephone call…or ignored. Many have left the secular community, similarly vacated leadership positions of national organizations, or have been discouraged from participating as a result. This is not a constructive and positive way to address conflict.

Almost immediately following my appointment with the Secular Coalition for America, I was the target of a campaign of lies, character attacks, and distortions. My detractors did not only brand me as an ‘enemy of the people’ in a similar fashion to the respective play written by Henrik Ibsen, but also attacked the Secular Coalition for America – an organization with women as staff members including the organization’s executive director – claiming it “dislike[s] feminist secular activists in Pennsylvania,” is responsible for “alienating women,” and “is woefully out of sync with the atheist movement” to just mention three items. Those who demand respect and object to disrespect — as should be apparent — offer no or little respect to others, thus not modeling the behavior they wish to see.

I have indeed made some mistakes and handled some situations poorly in past months. These mistakes were errors of judgment and were not, by any means, coupled with malicious intent. My detractors have blown these mistakes out of proportion almost never bothering to mention my concessions, never to personally contact me in a constructive manner to address grievances, or correct their own mistakes — and treated me unfairly.

It is obvious that there is a significant problem in the secular community. Conflict which is not conducive to growth and positive change — especially that which can be avoided — is a blight on a secular movement which could be so much stronger, effective, and working toward better accomplishing the goals which many in the community likely became active because of.

I am thus putting my personal wants aside and resigning from my position as co-chair of the Secular Coalition for America’s Pennsylvania chapter in order to end this toxic controversy. I do not wish to see the organization and its staff which I will continue to support – and many individuals who support me — buffeted with attacks. The Secular Coalition for America should return to dealing with legislative action, lobbying, press releases, and so much more rather than controversy drawing unnecessary and unhelpful ‘lines in the sand’ which are unfortunate for all in the community. I look forward to a more positive and constructive secular community which I will continue to be a part of.

Intrepid readers have noted some issues concerning word usage and an extra ‘with.’ I have corrected those silly issues. Thanks for the tips. The non-edited version is frozen here.

Justin Vacula

Justin Vacula hosts the Stoic Philosophy Podcast; serves as co-organizer and spokesperson for the Northeastern Pennsylvania (NEPA) Freethought Society; and has hosted monthly Stoic Philosophy discussion groups for the Humanist Association of Greater Philadelphia. He has appeared on and hosted various radio shows and podcasts; participated in formal debates and discussions; was a guest speaker for college-level courses; was featured in local, national, and international news; and has been invited to speak at various national, local, and statewide events. Vacula received bachelor's degrees in Philosophy and Psychology, a minor in Professional Writing, and the distinguished W.A. Kilburn Memorial Award for Philosophy from King's College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. He is currently living in the Scranton, PA area attending Marywood University's graduate-level Mental Health Counseling program and has worked with the Arc of Luzerne County's Transition to Community Employment program as a teacher's assistant and job coach alongside adult learners with intellectual and developmental disabilities. He also plays poker; volunteers as a member of the website and media team for the Greyhawk Reborn Dungeons & Dragons campaign while playing at events in the Eastern United States; and enjoys metal music.