Freethought NOW!

A big anniversary highlights FFRF’s week

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

30a6f594 1c41 f7bd 716f ba9431008f66 A big anniversary highlights FFRF’s week

The Freedom From Religion Foundation caps off another busy week with an oldie but a goodie.

FFRF celebrates the 60th anniversary of the Abington v. Schempp decision by the Supreme Court, which was the landmark ruling declaring that bible readings and recitation of the Lord’s Prayer in public schools are unconstitutional. The ruling was handed down on June 17, 1963.

FFRF Lifetime Member Ellery Schempp was at the heart of the case. Back in 1956, when the case began, he was a feisty 16-year-old who rebelled against a Pennsylvania law he knew was wrong that required starting every school day by reading 10 bible verses out loud. He started bringing a copy of the Quran to school, just to show that the bible was not the “only holy book” and read it while the teacher was reading bible verses to the class, also refusing to stand as a student duly recited the daily prayer.

Writer Lewis Beale, who was a classmate of Schempp’s sister, Donna, wrote a column for FFRF for the 60th anniversary of the ruling, where he explained how the Schempp family endured years of harassment for winning that case.

“Researching and writing the Schempp story also helped me get in touch with an ugly reality — the ways in which those fighting for religious freedom are ferociously resisted, despite the righteousness —and legality — of their cause,” Beale writes.

Virginia school district needs to ban the bible
9b349774 3ca9 18e7 e3f9 9fa10af3220c A big anniversary highlights FFRF’s week

While bible readings in schools are still unconstitutional, FFRF is trying to get schools to remove bibles from public school libraries where they are banning other books — as a tactic to protest book banning.

FFRF this week wrote to the Hanover County School Board in Ashland, Va., to tell it to immediately remove the bible from its school libraries as part of its new book-banning crusade, which purportedly targets “sexually explicit,” “vulgar” and “obscene” content.

FFRF has compiled a list of nearly 150 bible verses displaying a “pornographic view of sex and women, lewdness, depravity and sexual violence often ordered or countenanced by the biblical deity” entitled An X-Rated Book: Sex & Obscenity in the Bible. FFRF Co-President Dan Barker has written an entire book on the evils of the bible, GOD: The Most Unpleasant Character in All Fiction.

FFRF gets salty in full-page ad in Utah paper
FFRF is running a provocative full-page ad picturing a bible and the Book of Mormon with a headline saying “BAN THESE BOOKS” in this Sunday’s Salt Lake City Tribune.

“If the state of Utah and its school boards insist on censoring ‘sensitive’ material in our public schools,” the FFRF ad states, “then they must start with the bible and Book of Mormon.”

FFRF jumped into the fray after bolstering the complaint of a district parent in Farmington, Utah, whose request to ban the bible in light of numerous book removals in Davis County Schools ended in a controversial vote May 31 to remove the King James Version from lower grade libraries. FFRF maintains the district did not go far enough and is prodding Davis County Schools to remove bibles from all school libraries.

FFRF ad asks to ‘stem the tide of white Christian nationalism’
7f071e71 4f99 ecfd 8539 87bded18a27f A big anniversary highlights FFRF’s week

The Salt Lake City Tribune isn’t the only major newspaper to run a full-page ad from FFRF this Sunday. A dramatic full-page ad will run in the New York Times, warning: “Christian nationalists are endangering our secular democracy.”

The ad, urging “Stem the tide of white Christian nationalism,” features a drawing by Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Steve Benson depicting the Statue of Liberty holding a cross with a tidal wave of “theocracy” flooding over the United States.

Warns FFRF: “The extremely conservative majority on the Supreme Court is privileging discrimination in the name of ‘sincerely held religious beliefs.’” The advertisement references the shocking vote to approve a public-funded Catholic charter school in Oklahoma, which it said is driving “a stake in the heart of religious liberty.”

S.C. school board needs to stop religious activists
Over in South Carolina, FFRF is demanding that the Berkeley County School Board prevent members of the audience from interrupting its meetings to push Christianity by reciting the Lord’s Prayer during the moment of silence.

The disruptive prayers for the last three board meetings have been led by former school board member Ann Conder in order to “invite God into the boardroom.”

At the most recent meeting, a woman commented, “Oh, no, no, a moment of silence. No, show some respect for non-Christians here” to protest Conder’s inappropriate disruption of the meeting. Conder was allowed to continue praying, but a security guard approached the woman protesting the inappropriate prayer, grabbed her arm and told her to leave.

FFRF is asking the board chair to take immediate action: “The board has chosen to host a moment of silence to allow those who wish to pray prior to meetings to do so without violating the constitutional rights of its students and community members by imposing prayer on everyone,” FFRF Staff Attorney Chris Line writes.

Minnesota district should move graduation from church
a0ea2fad 0132 7806 055d 80cb781ec372 A big anniversary highlights FFRF’s week

FFRF is urging Eastern Carver County Schools in Minnesota to hear the students and discontinue using Grace Church for graduation ceremonies. FFRF is asking the district to select a more appropriate, secular venue for graduation ceremonies in order to respect the First Amendment rights of students and families.

A recent petition from Chaska High sophomore Eli Frost has gathered more than 600 signatures asking the school district to respect the separation of state and church by moving future graduation ceremonies from Grace Church in Eden Prairie to a more secular venue.

In backing up the students’ petition, FFRF is requesting the district to select a secular facility to respect the diversity and constitutional rights of the students and family.

S.D. governor shouldn’t impose her prejudices
FFRF is admonishing South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem for foisting her anti-LGBTQ perspective on South Dakota’s universities.

In a letter dated May 25, Noem outlined a list of goals she wants the South Dakota Board of Regents to achieve with the purpose of “revitalizing the institutions under its control and leading the nation by example.” The list makes it clear that her actual aim is to censor viewpoints she is personally uncomfortable with and to demonize LGBTQ-plus students on college campuses.

FFRF is asking the governor to immediately reverse course and ensure that all students’ right to free speech is protected, including those she disagrees with.

What’s the connection between atheism and abortion?
Barbara Alvarez, who has been writing blog posts on for over three years, writes this week about the connection between atheism and abortion.

She writes: “I contend that abortion is an atheist issue, whether we want it to be or not. The reason is because abortion has been co-opted by the Religious Right. And if we are to live in a secular country where religion is not baked into laws, atheists should care about the legality of abortion — whether they personally support it or not. . . So, whether or not you personally agree with abortion, we atheists and nonbelievers can agree that legislation should reflect fact — not faith. This includes legislation about abortion. People should be able to decide for themselves to continue a pregnancy or terminate it.”

We Dissent discusses the pending Post Office case
0186a453 d1a1 a08e c987 81929667e699 A big anniversary highlights FFRF’s week

new podcast episode of “We Dissent” examines a crucial Supreme Court decision that will be handed down very soon.

Podcast hosts FFRF Legal Director Rebecca Markert, FFRF Attorney Liz Cavell and American Atheists Legal Director Alison Gill discuss the pending Post Office case — Groff v. DeJoy — in which the Supreme Court considers how much hardship a business must bear to accommodate the religious practices of employees.

“We Dissent,” which first aired in May 2022, is a monthly legal affairs show for atheists, agnostics and humanists, offering legal wisdom from the secular viewpoint of women lawyers. The show is a collaboration of the Freedom From Religion Foundation and American Atheists.

Episodes are available at the “We Dissent” website, Spotify, or wherever your podcasts are found.

Get your weekly dose of Freethought Radio
On this week’s episode of Freethought Radio, you’ll hear co-hosts Annie Laurie Gaylor and Dan Barker speak with Sheryl Monk, the woman in South Carolina who is complaining about the “Lord’s Prayer” at school board meetings. They also interview Jon Ward, chief correspondent for Yahoo! News, about his new book Testimony: Inside the Evangelical Movement that Failed a Generation. Listen here.

SPLC’s ’Extremism’ report on ‘Ask an Atheist’
d77257fc 85e9 c151 91e4 2dac3fc034e5 A big anniversary highlights FFRF’s week

On this week’s episode of FFRF’s “Ask an Atheist,” co-hosts Dan Barker and Chris Line discuss the “Year in Hate and Extremism” report from the Southern Poverty Law Center. They speak with the report’s co-author, Joseph Wiinikka-Lydon, about how the SPLC realized that Christian nationalism is a growing threat in the United States.

Oklahoma AG is named ‘Secularist of the Week’
FFRF’s Action Fund, the 501(c)(4) lobbying arm of FFRF, has named Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond, a Republican, its “Secularist of the Week” for his eloquent and outspoken opposition to the proposed unconstitutional Catholic charter school in his state.

In an op-ed in last Sunday’s Oklahoman newspaper, he wrote: “The framers of the U.S. Constitution and those who drafted Oklahoma’s Constitution clearly understood how best to protect religious freedom: by preventing the state from sponsoring any religion at all.”

On the opposite end of the spectrum FFRF’s Action Fund names a former school board member in South Carolina as the “Theocrat of the Week.” Ann Conder has disrupted school board meetings to lead a loud contingent in reciting the Lord’s Prayer during what is supposed to be a moment of silence.

FFRF Action Fund warns of religion-in-schools bill
ff0d84c7 9952 03ab 88b2 8f2c3b9bdb7f A big anniversary highlights FFRF’s week
And finally, FFRF’s Action Fund warns that a special legislative session in Texas is being hijacked to try to pass Christian nationalist bills, including the infamous proposal to place large Ten Commandments posters in every Texas public school classroom.

Under Gov. Greg Abbott’s orders, the Texas Senate reconvened to address issues relating to property tax rates and penalties for smuggling people. But, Texas Christian nationalists are capitalizing on the opportunity to pursue their theocratic crusade, including re-hashing bills that failed during the regular session to force religion on public school students.

Thanks for being a member!

We’ve been busy at FFRF this week, as you can see, working hard to keep that wall between state and church as high and wide as possible. It’s thanks to you for allowing us to stay engaged and active in the fight for our rights.

Have a great weekend!

Please share this article:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.