We at the Freedom From Religion Foundation have been in a bit of a frenzy over the past week.
Of course, the religiously inspired onslaught on abortion rights has been a major reason. We ran a full-page ad in the main news section of Thursday’s New York Times showing the Statue of Liberty enshrouded in “Handmaid’s Tale” garb, with the word “Liberty” crossed out. That illustration, by Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Steve Benson, is accompanied by text noting, “The battle to turn back the clock and recriminalize abortion is a religious crusade fueled by the zealous beliefs of a minority.” To help with more such public relations campaigns, please go to this link and designate “advertising” in the drop down menu.
FFRF’s amicus brief to the Supreme Court pointing out the religious ideology behind abortion bans, incidentally, got a shoutout in a National Public Radio piece this week.
We were (again) dismayed when the U.S. Senate stymied the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would codify the provisions of Roe v. Wade. “The extremist, anti-abortion, male-dominated Christian nationalists in Congress, the Supreme Court and a majority of state legislatures are relentless in seeking their dystopian objective of denying reproductive liberty and bodily autonomy to half its citizens,” warned FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor.
FFRF Contributing Writer Barbara Alvarez tackled another aspect of the reproductive rights debate: religiously rooted barriers to obtaining birth control pills.
“Birth control pills should be available over the counter, affordable, fully covered by health insurance, and accessible to people of all ages without parental consent,” she concluded her piece, written on the 62nd anniversary of the approval of “The Pill” (to use the colloquial term). “Let’s contact our representatives and urge them to #FreeThePill.”
Barbara and FFRF Director of Governmental Affairs Mark Dann engaged in a conversation on the current episode of FFRF’s Facebook Live “Ask an Atheist” program about how Congress and the states are likely to react if Roe falls, how FFRF is working to support abortion rights and keep religious dogma out of health care, and about our backing of court reform efforts.
What a worrisome court!
The Supreme Court has been occupying our attention not just due to abortion rights. FFRF Legal Counsel Sam Grover has written an incisive analysis on the court’s hearing of oral arguments in the case of a prayerful Washington state coach. “The U.S. Supreme Court is poised to gut constitutional protections for public school student athletes in the name of ‘religious freedom,’” Sam warns. The court’s behavior is worrisome at several levels. We have co-signed a letter with more than a dozen other groups urging Congress to pass legislation imposing ethics requirements on Supreme Court justices. The court has failed to voluntarily address the very real and understandable concerns Americans have about the judiciary, we’re emphasizing; now Congress must quickly step in and work to restore public trust in our courts.
Our stately admonitions
We have covered a lot of bases at the state level, too. You need to get rid of your discriminatory and exclusionary oath, we advised the state of New Jersey. “Our secular Constitution bars any religious test for public office, and that’s what this oath amounts to,” said Annie Laurie. We reminded the New Jersey AG about our successful lawsuit recently in federal court against the state of Alabama that ended its requirement for voters to sign a godly statement on the voter registration form.
New Jersey was far from the only state to hear from us. We excoriated Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s show of cultural tone deafness in using DEI training to proselytize state employees. Idaho is NOT a Christian state, we reminded its lieutenant governor after her recent religion-infused incendiary remarks. And we reached out to Razorback State residents with a billboard in Northwest Arkansas, generously underwritten by FFRF member Chris Sweeny, boldly proclaiming “The Good News Is . . . THERE IS NO HELL.”
Our local interventions
We’ve been constitutionally intervening at the local level. A Florida city must reject a local church’s request for tens of thousands of dollars in taxpayer money to refurbish a swimming pool, we insisted. And we asked that an Arizona school district immediately halt a teacher’s blatant proselytizing. The teacher should be terminated, and administrators at the school should be reprimanded and reminded of their duties under the law, we are demanding.
My column on the Russian church’s support of Ukraine war
We’ve not neglected the international front either, revealing the religious aspect of an event capturing the headlines. My column on the Russian Orthodox Church’s full-throated backing of Putin’s Ukraine invasion was sent out through The Progressive magazine’s op-ed service to hundreds of publications and was printed in several, ranging from the Portland, Maine, paper to (my particular delight) in Hawaii’s Big Island daily.
We have new legal fellows
It’s certainly not been all doom and gloom. We have a bunch of cheery and fun stuff to share, as well. We’re welcoming two new legal fellows from the class of 2022, including one who is on a distinguished fellowship. Kat Grant has received a fellowship through Equal Justice Works to work with FFRF, and Sammi Lawrence is from the University of Wisconsin- Madison. “We know these two new attorneys will add so much to our work for state/church separation,” remarks FFRF Legal Director Rebecca Markert.
An illustrative TV interview with an illustrious illustrator
You’re in for an illustrative and irreverent treat in an interview with an illustrious illustrator on our TV show this Sunday. Edward Sorel charts his remarkable life and irreverent artwork in his new memoir, Profusely Illustrated. FFRF is proud that Sorel is an honorary director of the organization, and is delighted to feature a visually showcased discussion of his satiric and witty work. You can already catch the show on our YouTube channel. Or find out where you can catch it on Sunday.
The beauty of science
And you’ll revel in the intellectual treat we have to offer on our current radio show. After listening to philosopher Bertrand Russell (on the sesquicentennial of his birth) tell us why he was not a Christian, we hear Sasha Sagan, daughter of astronomer Carl Sagan and author Ann Druyan, tell us why the beauty of science is more awesome than religion.
The white evangelical curse
Veteran freethinker and writer Jim Haught offers us a political analysis written in his inimitably literate and literary style.
“Every person who remembers his school poetry knows that the Ancient Mariner was forced to wear a dead albatross around his neck,” he begins. “America’s Republican Party wears a dying albatross: white evangelicals who are both the GOP’s life-support system and also a curse upon Republicans.”
The Handmaid’s Tale, the albatross and everything in between — we’re able to deal with all of these phenomena, literary and otherwise, only because of you and your “faithful” support.