It may be currently cold and snowy here in Wisconsin, but we’re all fired up at the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
We’re celebrating a major victory for the Constitution and minority rights. Just yesterday, a reconstituted school board in Chino Valley, Calif., decided not to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court our victory at the 9th Circuit over its prayerful meetings. “We’re so pleased reason and our Constitution have prevailed in protecting the rights of students and parents to be free from proselytizing by their school board,” remarks FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor on the triumphant culmination of our three-year-long legal battle.
Maybe the school board would have capitulated earlier if it knew who we confront on a regular basis. We asked the Senate this week not to confirm Attorney General nominee William Barr, given his past record and statements on secular matters. “Barr is like Sessions in all the wrong ways: He wants to redefine religious freedom as a license to discriminate, thinks we need a ‘religious liberty task force,’ and demeans and disparages secular Americans,” states Annie Laurie. We also signed on to a letter from four major secular groups expressing similar concerns about the person who could be our nation’s top law enforcement officer.
Barr was not the only high-profile public figure on our mind. We chastised not one but two governors for their blatant religiosity. Newly inaugurated Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt has not even been in office one week — and yet has already violated the Constitution he took an oath to uphold, we pointed out. (If you don’t believe us, check out this photo!) And Tennessee Gov.-elect Bill Lee is one-upping him by selling tickets to a government-sponsored religious service during his Inaugural on Saturday. The Nashville Tennessean reports, “A national group that pushes for the separation of church and state does not think a religious service should be a part of Gov.-elect Bill Lee’s upcoming inaugural celebration.” Obviously not.
Fortunately, these aren’t the only public officials we’ve had to deal with recently. FFRF Co-President Dan Barker, FFRF Strategic Response Director Andrew Seidel and FFRF Staff Attorney Ryan Jayne traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet with members of the recently formed Congressional Freethought Caucus and other representatives and senators and their staff. Dan talks with me on “Newsbite” this week about the purpose of the trip — and what we hope to have it achieve.
Dan and I also chatted on our “Ask an Atheist” Facebook Live feature about his fascinating new book, Mere Morality. The book talks about the three guides for morality — and the inadequacy of religion to act as a moral guidepost — but, for my money, the explanation of the phrase “Jiminy Cricket” is itself worth the price.
When we think of recent prominent authors, Harvard Professor Steven Pinker comes to mind. So, it’s a real honor for us that the honorary FFRF president has done a promo ad for our organization, which will debut on Colbert’s show next week. “Please join me in supporting the Freedom From Religion Foundation to ensure that our government is driven not by religion, but by reason,” he says. See a sneak preview We’re also rerunning our famous Ron Reagan ad on Rachel Maddow’s show the next two weeks. Thanks again, Ron!
On the national version of our “Freethought Matters” show this week, we interview legal legend Jim McCollum, who made history as a child when his family got the U.S. Supreme Court to declare unconstitutional religious instruction in public schools. Tune in the show Sunday morning in eight cities (read where) or catch it on YouTube.