One of the biggest growth areas in political activism around religion is coming from an unlikely source: the nonreligious. And it’s happening far from the marbled corridors of power in the nation’s capital.

The Secular Coalition for America, an umbrella organization that represents 11 nontheistic groups including American Atheists and the American Humanist Association, is looking to take its secular-based activism out of the nation’s capital and into the states.

Beginning in June, the Washington-based SCA will install directors in 18 states including Hawaii, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Alabama. State directors will meet with local politicians and train and mobilize local nontheists to lobby on behalf of secular issues and causes.

Why? Activists say the most important policies that affect nonbelievers don’t come from Washington.

“The majority of erosion to church-state separation is at the local level,” said Serah Blain, the SCA’s first state director, appointed in Arizona in January. “It’s in city councils and school boards and statehouses. And that’s where these things really affect people’s lives, with laws on bullying and abortion and access to health care. And they are passing without much opposition because it isn’t seen as glamorous to lobby locally.”

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