Second Chances

Author Emily Dietle

My focus is on state-church separation & social issues. I'm an avid reader, and feel that one of our most valuable tools is the free movement of information and ideas. | @emilyhasbooks

For those not in the ‘know,’ controversial Justin Vacula has been appointed as one of two co-chairs for the newly launched arm of the Secular Coalition for America (SCA) in Pennsylvania. This pick has created an uproar of criticism aimed at the SCA, including denouncements here & here, along with a petition for his removal, from persons it should be noted that I respect and admire. Along with lengthy opinion pieces, there were numerous tweets and facebook posts about how horrible the pick was and that Vacula should be scrapped. There have also been a few cries of withdrawing  support from the SCA.

None of this made sense to me, it didn’t align with the image of Vacula that I’d formed. Though I’m not usually a fan of Vacula’s writing style or some of his views, I’ve always found Justin to be a kind person with a determination for supporting the famed wall of separation of church and state. So, I did a bit of digging, looked at the concerns of others, and found their claims somewhat substantiated. Regardless, I’m one to give second chances, and let people prove themselves. Also, I must question the gravity of the concerns raised. Considering the stressed importance of the claims, shouldn’t they have been handled swiftly and privately with SCA leadership, and not via public defamatory posts?

As a humanist, I seek to resolve differences cooperatively, joining our unique individual selves into a web of support, so that we can enrich society together. Sometimes, those individuals make horrid mistakes, or present unfavorable characteristics. They still have value, and are part of the web, and are able to change. It’s against my better nature to blacklist, berate, and defame.

In summary: Even if the SCA’s pick was the wrong choice, there must be more productive things to do than bash Vacula publicly. He’s a human-being, with feelings, and the ability to grow. Secondly, I’m not ashamed of endorsements that he, or others make of myself, or of organizations like the new and fabulous Secular Woman. Lastly, the Secular Coalition for America is still good in my book as great organization, fighting endlessly to uphold church-state separation.