No word on substance of White House meeting with atheists

McClatchy NewpapersFebruary 26, 2010 

WASHINGTON — A spokesman for the Secular Coalition for America, a group that includes atheists, said its representatives met for close to an hour and a half Friday with Obama administration officials from the public engagement office of the White House and from the departments of Justice, Health and Human Services and Defense.

Paul Fidalgo, however, said he couldn't offer any details about what Obama aides said in the meeting because of an agreement that their discussion be kept private.

President Obama — as expected — did not make an appearance.

The meeting was notable because it was one of the rare times an administration has formally met with the coalition's members, which include the American Atheists and the Council for Secular Humanism.

On Thursday, coalition leaders said they had three areas of interest on their agenda: child medical neglect in homes where parents bbelieve in faith healing, proselytizing of religion in the military, and the Obama administration's advocacy of faith-based initiatives.

Fidalgo said the went “very, very well” from the coalition’s perspective, that members were “encouraged by the reception we got today” and that they hope to be invited back for follow-up discussions.

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