The Freedom From Religion Foundation began as a national organization four decades ago this week! Even as we enter what would be human middle age, we show no signs of slowing down.
“Since FFRF’s inception, it has grown from three original members to more than 33,000 and from an all-volunteer group to 25 full-time staff — including nine constitutional attorneys,” we note. “FFRF has brought more than 70 lawsuits — two-thirds victorious — ended thousands of state/church entanglements through education and persuasion, bestowed hundreds of scholarships to freethinking student essayists or activists, launched more than 1,000 educational billboards and bus signs, published books and music and produced weekly radio and TV shows.”
Salman Rushdie will be at our convention!
We made a big announcement to coincide with our anniversary: Salman Rushdie will be headlining our annual convention in San Francisco in early November! One of the most renowned authors and iconoclasts of our era will be speaking at the get-together Friday afternoon. Be there!
A New York Times ad
We took out a full-page ad in The New York Times to celebrate our 40th and to urge more freethinkers to join us in our onward journey.
A look back
Our Facebook Live “Ask an Atheist” feature has FFRF Co-Presidents Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor reminiscing about the organization’s highlights and achievements. In our “Newsbite” segment, Annie Laurie succinctly presents the state/church watchdog’s history.
A misinforming museum
On our radio show this week, you can hear yours truly chat with Dan and Annie Laurie about the same subject. Dan and Annie Laurie also talk with FFRF Director of Strategic Response Andrew Seidel about their visit to the misinforming Museum of the Bible, which recently opened in Washington, D.C.
Struggles for social justice
Of course, this week the nation was observing the half-century anniversary of a much more grim event: the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. FFRF Staff Attorney Ryan Jayne used the instance (and the recent death of legal activist Linda Brown of Brown v. Board of Education fame) to deftly tie together various legal campaigns for social justice.
“Linda Brown taught us that progress is a lifelong struggle, because the bannermen of the status quo will drag their feet every step of the way,” Ryan writes. “But FFRF, with your support, is vigilant, prepared, and always willing to fight for the First Amendment and your rights.”
And FFRF Editorial Assistant Molly Hanson brings to the fore an environmentalist and feminist whose birthday we celebrate this week — an activist who is known now, alas, due to the recent shooting at the Parkland, Fla., school that bears her name. Did you know Marjory Stoneman Douglas was a freethinker? Find out more.
Some anniversary gifts
During this anniversary week, we received a couple of gifts. A proposed constitutional amendment we were battling in Florida that would have gutted church-state separation was defeated. And in Kentucky, a case we’re co-litigating with ACLU-Kentucky about the denial of an atheist license plate to our client was allowed to go ahead.
“Kentucky will not let Ben Hart use “IM GOD” on a vanity plate, so he has sought relief in a lower court of judgment,” the Washington Post reports. “After a two-year wait, it looks as if his case can proceed to trial.”
Icing on the cake
The icing on the cake this week was a bunch of victories we obtained in persuading public schools to halt constitutional wrongdoing. In Illinois, we put an end to promotion of creationism. And in Tennessee, we stopped the broadcasting of morning prayer over a P.A. system.
But we weren’t resting on our laurels. We educated an Indiana school about the inappropriateness of a first-grade teacher’s religious force-feeding of her class. And in a holdover from the religiosity of the prior week, we admonished a Georgia school for allowing church representatives to spread their message during Easter.
Celebrating secularism and rationality
“Freethought Matters,” our TV show, this week celebrates what we’re about: secularism and rationality. Watch freethinking intellectual and biologist Jerry Coyne, author of “Why Evolution Is True,” discuss all this, and much more, in an interview with Dan and Annie Laurie, first Sunday 11 p.m. on Channel 3 in the Madison area, then Monday afternoon onward on YouTube. You can catch our last week’s interview with activist and extremist attack survivor Rafida Bonya Ahmed there.
Four decades gone by and many, many more to come — all due to your membership and generosity.