Freethought NOW!

Calling out praying politicians and a bigoted Oregon state rep

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A photo of mifepristone

It was an exciting week for us at the Freedom From Religion Foundation, since we filed a bunch of court briefs and received lots of media attention.

We filed a friend-of-the-court brief before the U.S. Supreme Court contending that the litigants who are challenging medication abortion at the national level lack standing to sue. The religiously motivated anti-abortion groups and physicians lack standing to challenge the FDA’s regulatory decisions in 2016 and 2021 concerning mifepristone, our brief asserts, listing a number of reasons why the court should dismiss the case. Let’s hope the high court listens to our side.

We also filed an amicus brief before a federal appeals court maintaining that a church challenging a 2018 Washington law giving citizens access to abortion and contraceptive coverage lacks legal standing there, too. The Cedar Park Assembly of God, the plaintiff, hasn’t shown that it has actually been injured or will be injured by the state law, our brief argues. “Cedar Park’s worry that its health carrier might pass along the costs of covering [abortion] services is a hypothetical that relies on a highly attenuated chain of events, insufficient to confer an injury,” states our brief. Hypothetical shouldn’t cut it legally, as we set about proving.

Media amplifies our denunciation of the National Prayer Breakfast
A photo of Speaker Mike Johnson at the National Prayer Breakfast

The National Prayer Breakfast, an annual event that we’ve been campaigning against, was yet again attended by top officials from President Biden on downward — and yet again we issued strong public criticism. The Religion News Service, the primary outfit covering the beat, quoted us at length:
“Using the U.S. Capitol as the venue would incontrovertibly give the distasteful appearance that this private, Christian-dominated event is an official governmental function of Congress,” said Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom from Religion Foundation, in a statement to Religion News Service ahead of the events. “Conducting a ‘National Prayer Breakfast’ at the conspicuous seat of federal government is what would be expected in a theocracy, not a republic predicated on a secular Constitution.” 

Our castigation of Oregon state rep’s bigotry gets circulated nationwide
Our excoriation of an Oregon state legislator for his bigotry has also gotten national media play.

“A Republican Oregon lawmaker has suggested that ‘you don’t want’ Muslims, atheists and other non-Christians to serve in elected office,” says an Associated Press story. “The remarks prompted the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a Wisconsin nonprofit that advocates keeping religion out of governance, to call for E. Werner Reschke to apologize to people in his legislative district or to resign. The group sent Reschke a letter last week saying his duty is to support the state and federal constitutions and not to promote his personal religious views.”

Oregon Public Broadcasting took note of our critique too
“Reschke’s remarks quickly drew fire from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a Wisconsin nonprofit that advocates keeping religion out of governance,” says a piece for the radio network. “The group sent Reschke a letter last week that suggested Washington, Lincoln and Madison were not the devout Christians that he had portrayed, and chastised him for his comments.”

It goes on to quote us for a bit. You can read more here.

Ala. media portal has story on our victory
A photo of a bible verse painted on a dugout. It says "whatever you do, do it for the glory of GOD" I Corinthians 10:31

A constitutional victory of ours in Alabama is the subject of a major story on the state’s largest news portal.

“A Wisconsin-based nonprofit that serves as a separation of church and state watchdog is crediting itself for having a biblical verse painted on the side of a dugout removed by the Mobile County School System,” states a piece on Al.com. “In a news release Wednesday, the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) confirmed that the school system — the largest public school system in Alabama — painted over what it calls a ‘divisive religious display’ on the side of a dugout at the Theodore High School baseball field.”

The article details at length our victory — and then further covers our other major recent activity in the state!

Wash. media impressed with our efforts
Our backing of courageous freethinking students objecting to a school board prayer garnered immediate coverage in the local media.

“A suggestion that the Prosser School Board should open its meetings with a prayer has resulted in objections from students and threats of legal action from a national organization,” a story in the Yakima, Wash, paper reads. “The Freedom From Religion Foundation’s Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor told the Tri-City Herald. Gaylor said the discussion sends a ‘disrespectful signal’ toward students’ freedom of religious practices and legal precedent. The foundation will consider a lawsuit if the school board goes any further, she said.”

We intensely focused on theocratic legislative hijinks
A photo of Speaker Mike Johnson

Our focus on theocratic legislative shenanigans was intense.

We protested the reprehensible invitation by House Speaker Mike Johnson to a Christian nationalist pastor, Jack Hibbs, known for aggressive hostility to the core American principle of separation between church and state, to open the U.S. House with a prayer. What makes this invite worse is that no openly identified unbeliever has ever been allowed to give the opening invocation. FFRF Co-President Dan Barker, a former minister, was in fact barred from giving a secular invocation (We unsuccessfully sued over that).

And we issued strong condemnations before and after the fact of a theocratic shindig held at the Museum of the Bible in the nation’s capital with the blessing of Speaker Mike Johnson. “It is improper for anyone who has sworn an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution to participate in an event dedicated to mixing religion and government,” Annie Laurie said the day prior. When the event was done, we put forth a further denunciation, pointing out that this event is a showcase of what happens when extremist lawmakers allow their personal religious beliefs to dictate their policy work.

Religions continue to persecute LGBTQIA-plus communities
We highlighted how religion continues to play its pernicious role in opposing acceptance and rights for LGBTQIA-plus individuals. “Religion — and its ceaseless demand to dictate civil laws — is the problem here in the United States and around the world,” said Annie Laurie.

“Freethought Matters” spotlights secular youth
A screenshot from freethought matters of a person giving a speech at the ffrf national convention

Our Sunday TV show spotlights the achievements of just a few of the secular youth making our country better. You’ll meet some of the appealing and impressive freethinking student activists and essay winners awarded our scholarships. You can already watch the show on our YouTube channel. Or find out where you can catch it on television Sunday.

On our Freethought Radio show this week, the centerpiece was an entertaining and enlightening talk, “The Tiny Titanic Act of Telling the Truth,” that Kate Cohen, Washington Post contributing columnist and author of the book We of Little Faith: Why I Stopped Pretending to Believe (and Maybe You Should Too), delivered at FFRF’s convention last October. Listen to the memorable speech here.

Insightful election analysis
A photo of political confetti and balloons falling with the title creeds and candidates: unraveling 2024

Our lobbying arm was active recently, too. In a special Action Fund edition of our “Ask an Atheist” Facebook Live feature, FFRF Action Fund Director of Governmental Affairs Mark Dann and FFRF Action Fund Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor spoke with Peter Montgomery at the People for the American Way about the role Christian nationalism will play in the coming election, and the Heritage’s Foundation’s Project 2025, which sets forth a blueprint for restructuring the U.S. government along extremist lines. Watch the riveting discussion here.

Cheers to Evers, jeers to Deevers
A photo of tony evers labeled secularist of the week next to a photo of dusty deevers with the title theocrat of the week

And the Fund applauded Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers as its “Secularist of the Week” for protecting women from theocratic attempts to restrict abortion, while Oklahoma state Sen. Dusty Deevers was its “Theocrat of the Week” for a recent out-of-control Christian nationalist rant.

Being converted to the truth
A photo of the sunset with the title "my conversion to the truth"

FFRF Contributing Writer and Lifetime Member Barbara Walker has a charming story about how she shunned her belief and was “converted” to the truth early on in life after being told her dog wouldn’t go to heaven.

“All alone, I had been born again in reverse: liberated forever from that dismal sense of oppression, newly convinced that my disapproval of God was entirely justified,” she writes. “Never again would I be mentally or emotionally enslaved by a cruel mythology.”

Doesn’t that have resonance for you, too? With your help, we’re able to spread the word about this form of truth to the public at large — week after week.

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