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Cleaning up states, our media impact, Israel’s theocratic threats and chapter activism

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Various states in the United States of America occupied our bandwidth this week at the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

We warned that so-called “parental rights” bills sweeping states around the nation have sinister intentions. In short, parental bills of rights give white Christian nationalists and religiously motivated parents a heckler’s veto over public school education.

No religious oaths!
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We’re suggesting a major modification to the unconstitutional religious oath that candidates for office in New Jersey are forced to sign.

“New Jersey is effectively prohibiting a significant portion of its population from running for office — or forcing it to lie,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “It’s high time for this unconstitutional practice to be brought to an end.”

In fact, FFRF Senior Policy Counsel Ryan Jayne discusses a study in his new blog convincingly demonstrating the need to get rid of such oaths. “The best solution is the simplest: to keep state and church entirely separate by omitting the religious oath altogether,” Ryan emphasizes.

We’re messin’ with Texas
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Thou shalt honor our secular public schools, we admonished the Lone Star State. A Texas Senate committee is entertaining two extremist bills, one requiring that the Ten Commandments be installed in every public classroom and a second to permit schools to hire pastors as chaplains instead of school counselors. Neither bill has a place in secular education.

A South Carolina district needs to clean up its act

We’re asking the superintendent of a South Carolina school district to investigate multiple constitutional violations occurring throughout the school system. “Public schools exist to educate, not indoctrinate,” says Annie Laurie.

The Razorback State is messing up
We’re running a full-page in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette this Sunday chiding Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders for her misguided efforts to censor books and defund public schools. You can take a look at the ad here.

Our media impact is all-pervasive
We’ve been really effective recently in advancing the secular agenda. FFRF Legal Fellow Karen Heineman is quoted by none other than the Reuters news agency regarding a proposed religious charter school in Oklahoma. ​​

“Public funding of religious charter schools has serious implications for taxpayers, nonreligious Americans, followers of other religions and LGBT people, according to Karen Heineman of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a secular group opposing the school’s application,” states its dispatch. “‘Any minority group out there that is not well represented by Catholic doctrine should be concerned,’ Heineman said.”

FFRF Governmental Affairs Intern Caitlin Berray has had her column commending a bipartisan bill in the N.H. Legislature run in a prominent paper in the state.

“New Hampshire needs to eliminate physician fear in abortion health care and instead authorize physicians to prioritize the health of their pregnant patients,” she writes for the Keene Sentinel. “HB 224 showcases that positive bipartisan efforts can be made in the fight for abortion accessibility, and that allowing for late-term abortions, with certain conditions, is a common sense endeavor.”

And a leading Arizona publication has published FFRF Attorney Chris Line’s op-ed contending that the Tucson school board’s idea of setting up a “faith-based advisory committee” is ill-founded. (You can read his initial letter on which the op-ed is based, and the accompanying press release, here.)

“Public schools must accept all-comers and welcome students, parents, teachers and staff of all religions — and no religion,” he writes in the Tucson Sentinel. “So must any district-sponsored committees. Members of the faith-based community are free to give their feedback and engage with the district in the same ways that all community members and organizations are able to do so. There is no need for a special committee to amplify their voices over all others.”

Way to go, Karen, Caitlin and Chris!

We spotlight illegal church electioneering
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Our spotlighting of a Wisconsin church’s electioneering in a state Supreme Court race got media attention last week, and on this week’s Facebook Live feature, Chris and FFRF Legal Director Rebbeca Markert talk about the issue. Watch the absorbing discussion here.

What FFRF Action Fund has been up to
FFRF is so careful about its responsibilities as a nonprofit that, unlike churches, we have set up a separate lobbying arm, the FFRF Action Fund. It celebrated this week the victory of its first endorsement: Janet Protasiewicz’s bid for the Wisconsin Supreme Court. And it continued its spotlighting of good and bad legislators around the country. It pronounced Florida Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book its “Secularist of the Week” after her passionate opposition to Florida’s proposed six-week abortion ban during a Senate debate and for getting arrested in a peaceful demonstration against it. U.S. Rep. Tim Burchett, R-Tenn., is FFRF Action Fund’s newest “Theocrat of the Week” for adding to his “we’re not going to fix it” gaffe on school shootings with a fact-free sermonette on religion. And Annie Laurie in her latest blog castigated the Religious Right for its unquestioning backing of Donald Trump.

The theocratic threat in Israel
On our Freethought Radio show this week, Annie Laurie and yours truly interviewed the extremely erudite University of San Francisco Professor and Middle East expert Stephen Zunes about the theocratic threats in Israel and what’s at stake.

The delusions of people in religion
A fascinating religious delusions expert, William Bernstein, explains on our Sunday TV show why people seem to lose their reasoning when they join a religious movement. You can already watch “Freethought Matters” on our YouTube channel. Or find out where you can catch it on television Sunday.

Grasping the code of the universe
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Veteran freethinker and writer Jim Haught has wondrously examined the mysteries of the universe in his column this week.

“Physicists often apply the word God to the natural order, but they don’t mean God in the religious sense,” he concludes. “In a world of supernatural religions, mystical religions, guilt-based religions, violent religions, money-collecting religions, social club religions and cult religions, grasping the code of the universe is the most religious experience I know.”

Our Chicago chapter puts up a secular Easter-timed display
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We love the activism of our members! In just the latest example, our Windy City chapter put up yesterday a display in downtown Chicago. “This is to counter and protest a religious prayer shrine that’s placed annually on government property by a private Catholic organization during the so-called ‘Christian holy week,’” says FFRF’s Metropolitan Chicago Chapter President Steven Foulkes.

Thank you all! It’s only due to your enthusiasm and inspiration we’re able to do everything that we do.

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