Freethought NOW!

Abortion rights, the Supreme Court, the rights of ‘Nones’ and Noah’s Ark

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
A screenshot of the cspan coverage of the supreme court oral arguments for FDA v. Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine.

We aim to persuade at the grassroots  — and so it’s important that we get the secular message out at the local and state levels.

That’s why we’ve been busy combating the scourge of bills in legislatures around the country to introduce chaplains in public schools. FFRF Action Fund (our lobbying arm) Senior Policy Counsel Ryan Jayne has an op-ed in the Kansas City Star forcefully urging that such a measure in the Statehouse not be allowed to become law. And he crafted a column for the Montgomery paper decrying a similar Alabama bill. You can read the full op-eds here and here.

We had a huge bible verse removed
A bible verse on a school wall in big paper letters

An intervention of ours that had a massive bible verse taken down from an Oklahoma school got covered in the local news.

“An Oklahoma school took down a bible verse that was displayed inside the building after the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) said it was unconstitutional,” says a story for a Fox affiliated TV station. “The organization said a concerned Putnam City Schools employee alerted FFRF that the verse, Ephesians 3:20-21, was posted in the hallway of Western Oaks Middle School. The verse read, ‘Now all glory to God, who is able through HIS mighty power at work within us to accomplish infinitely more than we might as or imagine.’”

No praying at school board meetings!
Our complaint regarding prayers at a Pennsylvania school board’s meetings received pride of place in the area newspaper.

“A local school district is being accused of violating the U.S. Constitution for beginning school board meetings with prayer,” states the piece in the Observer-Reporter. “The Freedom From Religion Foundation sent McGuffey Area School District a letter. The March 21 letter refers to McGuffey School Board President Zonie Jackson’s announcement last month to begin all board meetings with prayer, which, the FFRF said, goes against separation of church and state.”

Equal treatment for everyone — including satanists
the logo for the satanic temple

Our insistence that a Michigan county allow members of The Satanic Temple to deliver invocations got media play, too.

“The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), a nonprofit that promotes the separation of church and state, contacted the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners and urged them to ‘uphold the constitutional rights of all residents’ by allowing The Satanic Temple to deliver the opening prayer,” reports a Michigan TV station. “FFRF said that Ottawa County Board Chair Joe Moss responded by acknowledging board leadership prioritizes freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and religious freedom.’”

Read more here, including a statement by FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor about the matter.

Talking about Hindu nationalism
And for our hometown community radio station here in Madison, Wis., yours truly conducted an interview with scholar and analyst Sukumar Muralidharan on upcoming elections in India, where the ruling Hindu nationalist government is using means fair and foul to retain power.

NBC News mentioned us
Of course, we also love national coverage.

NBC News contacted us for a recent in-depth piece on an entity that runs release time bible study programs at Ohio public schools.

“Sammi Lawrence, a legal fellow at the Freedom From Religion Foundation, said her organization, which advocates for the separation of church and state nationally, has received seven reports that she describes as school officials inappropriately promoting or accommodating LifeWise,” says the story. “In some cases, Lawrence said, teachers and administrators ‘really go further than the law allows in terms of promoting LifeWise and trying to convince kids to go.’”

We stopped student coercion
In an instance involving the same outfit, we made certain that students in Fredericksburg, Ohio, will not be pressured to participate in LifeWise’s release time program. “These students have the right to be free from religious dogma during school hours, and the district needed to be reminded of that right,” says Annie Laurie.

A prominent website provides us lengthy coverage
The Daily Kos, a prominent progressive website, has detailed coverage of the lawsuit we filed last week on behalf of The Satanic Temple against the Memphis, Tenn., school board.

“The Freedom From Religion Foundation enters the story,” it says. “The FFRF is a tax-exempt nonprofit organization based in Madison, Wisconsin. Founded in 1976, the organization is dedicated to secularism, atheism, and the separation of church and state. They publish a newspaper called Freethought Today, and produce a radio show, Freethought Radio…. The Freedom From Religion Foundation currently has five ongoing lawsuits, and previous wins which are listed on their website.” Read on.

The U.S. Supreme Court and abortion rights
A photo of Judge Alito photoshopped into a doctor's outfit. The title says "Dr. Alito, what pills can I take?"

We have a personal interest in two abortion-rights cases before the Supreme Court.

In its first major abortion case since its ultraextreme majority overturned Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court heard a lawsuit this week that could imperil access to medication abortion. The high court is tasked with deciding, firstly, whether the litigating groups and doctors have the right to challenge the FDA’s regulations that expanded the use of mifepristone — the initial drug of a two-drug protocol to induce abortion. We have filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case asserting that the litigants lack standing to sue.

On our “Ask an Atheist” Facebook Live feature this week, Anne Nicol Gaylor Legal Fellow Sammi Lawrence, Associate Counsel Liz Cavell and Senior Counsel Patrick Elliott discuss the oral arguments. Watch the informative discussion here.

Patrick also wrote a blog on the arguments in which he pointed out that, troublingly, it is a good thing that the Supreme Court has taken this case.

“I hope the court realizes that without any injury to the anti-abortion advocates who are suing, their case should be tossed in its entirety,” he concluded his column. “We will soon find out if the justices are willing to discuss that option.”

FFRF Governmental Affairs Coordinator Caitlin Berray emphasized in a column that even with such seeming threats to medication abortion, there is still good news. Read on to find out why.

And in a second abortion-related case before the U.S. Supreme Court, we signed on along with 100-plus other groups to a friend-of-the-court brief by the National Women’s Law Center. The case deals with a challenge of the Biden administration’s enforcement of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act in Idaho, where nearly all abortions are currently criminalized. “The challenge by the state of Idaho seeking to deny health- and life-saving care to pregnant patients puts the lie to any claims by anti-abortionists of being ‘pro-life,’” says Annie Laurie.

Terrible new W.Va. laws
West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice has signed into law a bill aimed at inserting religion into public schools, and another bill with a similar purpose is headed to the governor’s desk. We are condemning these efforts and stressing that they will lead to inappropriate religious promotion during schooltime.

Sunday TV show guest safeguards the rights of ‘Nones’
A screenshot from freethought matters of Steven Emmert

Our TV show guest this week is constantly striving to protect the interests of secular Americans. Steven Emmert is the executive director of the Secular Coalition for America, an advocacy group in Washington, D.C., that works to preserve the equal rights of nonreligious Americans. “We have a speaker of the House now who identifies as a Christian nationalist, and their worldview, if you will, revolves completely around their religion,” Emmert explains to“Freethought Matters” co-hosts Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor. You can already watch the show on our YouTube channel. Or find out where to catch it on television Sunday.

The global attack on reproductive rights
Freethought Radio co-hosts Dan and Annie Laurie had a fascinating globe-trotting discussion for the most recent show with U.K. journalist Siân Norris about her book Bodies Under Siege: How the Far-Right Attack on Reproductive Rights Went Global. Listen to it here.

Donald Trump’s prayer threat
We took on Donald Trump for his statement as a private citizen hawking bibles that “we must make America pray again.” That’s a threat, the FFRF Action Fund emphasized.

An Ariz. legislative 10 Commandments showdown
A photo of Judy Schwiebert labeled secularist of the week, and a photo of Anthony Kern labeled theocrat of the week

And for its secularist and theocrat of the week, the Fund picked two Arizona legislators engaged in a Ten Commandments showdown. Its “Secularist of the Week” was an Arizona state representative for her pushback against an unconstitutional bill that would allow Ten Commandments displays in public schools. The primary sponsor of that bill was the “Theocrat of Week.”

The absurdities of Noah’s Ark
A vintage drawing of noah's ark with the title the absurdities of the ark in cursive

FFRF Contributing Writer Barbara Walker has fun exposing the ridiculousness of Noah’s Ark. “It is long past time for enlightened modern folks to know better and stop believing in ‘godly’ absurdities,” she concludes.

We completely agree. That’s why, with your help, we try to spread freethought and secularism at all levels day after day.

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.