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Celebrating Paine, religious liberty and good abortion news

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Thomas Paine

What have you been doing with your first few weeks of the New Year? Staying busy? Having fun? Fighting for the rights of all Americans?

Well, the Freedom From Religion Foundation has been doing all of those things, and hope you are, too!

Here’s some of what FFRF has been up to this week.

FFRF lauds proposal to restore religious liberty protections 
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FFRF is encouraged to see the Biden Administration’s announcement that it proposes restoring religious liberty protections for beneficiaries of federally funded social services.

FFRF, along with a coalition of service and advocacy organizations, filed a lawsuit at the end of Trump’s term against eight federal agencies for undoing rules to protect individuals receiving social services from such discrimination.

Let’s celebrate Paine!
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FFRF will be celebrating the congressional passage of a bill to create a Thomas Paine memorial in D.C. on his birthdate, Sunday, Jan. 29 at 2 p.m. Central.

The “Thomas Paine Birthdate Proclamation Celebration” will be accessible via Zoom. More information and a registration link can be found here.

FFRF and its allies have been working hard to pass the Thomas Paine Memorial Bill (HR 3720), which President Biden signed into law on Dec. 27, 2022. It authorizes the construction of a monument in the District of Columbia dedicated to the “Forgotten Founder.”

Celebrate two great holidays on Monday: National Religious Freedom Day and Martin Luther King Jr Day
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The National Religious Freedom Day, proclaimed on Jan. 16 annually by presidents since 1993, memorializes a constitutional principle that today is imperiled by our Supreme Court.

The extremist majority on the Supreme Court and many members of Congress and state legislators who are hostile to the principles embodied in the Statute for Religious Freedom ought to read Jefferson’s words. He warned: “To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves, is sinful and tyrannical.

Also celebrated on Monday is the national holiday honoring Martin Luther King Jr. notes that although he was a Baptist minister, King was a firm supporter of state/church separation. FFRF urges in King’s honor to fix the broken Voting Rights Act. Supreme Court decisions and anti-democratic state laws are endangering the right to vote for everyone, but especially for People of Color, students and low-income citizens. We urge the adoption of the John Lewis Act or the Freedom to Vote Act in King’s honor.

FFRF calls hiring of NY Times columnist ‘insensitive’
FFRF is disappointed by the New York Times’ insensitive decision to hire David French to be its newest opinion columnist. French, who has been affiliated with the Christian nationalist Alliance Defending Freedom, has a history of using religion as a weapon against LGBTQ individuals.

FFRF warns that inviting an openly anti-LGBTQ activist who believes in privileging religion to join the Times’ opinion section will result in far more heat than light.

FFRF, others demand release of Iranian atheist
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FFRF has joined with more than 40 secular organizations around the world to demand the safety and release of Iranian atheist Soheil Arabi, a well-known Iranian atheist and ex-Muslim.

On Jan. 2, Arabi was reportedly re-arrested, violently beaten and denied medicine in his own home. His location is currently unknown, and with violence against critics of the Iranian government on the rise, FFRF is greatly concerned about his safety.

Choose CPR, not God
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FFRF Legal Fellow Dr. Karen Heineman was watching the Buffalo Bills game against the Cincinnati Bengals when Bills player Damar Hamlin had an on-field cardiac arrest. In her latest superb piece published on FFRF’s blog page, FreethoughtNow.org, she writes:

“I felt awkward when a sports broadcaster delivered a prayer. I understand that some people turn to prayer during tragedies; it is easier sometimes to plead for a religious miracle than to accept the harsh limits of reality. I wasn’t looking for prayer from a sports channel, though; just facts. I also think implying a god can dictate a medical outcome does a great disservice to the people who dedicate their lives to a medical profession.”

Clergy is fraught with criminals
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In James A. Haught’s latest column, published on FFRF’s blog site, he wonders, “Why do many scumbags enter the clergy? Is it because the pulpit offers easy opportunities to self-enrich or victimize, with little surveillance? Or is it because religion itself is dishonest, based on bogus ‘revelations’?”

Gloria Steinem is special guest on ‘Freethought Matters’
Gloria Steinem is the spectacular guest on this Sunday’s episode of “Freethought Matters,” FFRF’s weekly television talk show.
FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor interviewed the world’s most famous feminist at FFRF’s 2021 national convention in Boston.

Steinem talks candidly about having an abortion in the 1950s, her humanist views and rejection of the afterlife, and why, in the face of so many of today’s challenges, she remains a “hope-a-holic.” The show originally aired in early 2022, and is being broadcast again as an encore performance.

Don’t miss this week’s Freethought Radio program
On this week’s episode of Freethought Radio, we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day and National Religious Freedom Day, “eulogize” Cardinal Pell via Tim Minchin’s song, “Come Home Cardinal Pell,” then hear irreverent Jim Hightower pillory religious entanglements in Texas. Listen in!

Facebook Live . . . from India!
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On this week’s Facebook Live program “Ask an Atheist,” FFRF Litigation Legal Assistant Greta Martens and FFRF State Policy Manager Ryan Dudley interviewed FFRF Co-President Dan Barker, who joined us live from India. They also discussed the history of religion and conflict in India, and what is happening in the country now with the rise of Hindu nationalism.

Finally, some good abortion-related news!
Barbara Alvarez has another column this week on abortion, but this time there’s actually good news! She details the various new laws and recent rulings favorable to abortion causes or women’s health in her latest column on FFRF’s blog site, FreethoughtNow.org.

Thanks for reading, and we hope you have a wonderful weekend. And, as always, we appreciate your being a member of FFRF!

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