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Coronavirus, the Constitution and the Supreme Court

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Winning for the Constitution, persuading the Supreme Court and critiquing the Trump administration: all in a week’s work for us at the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

We started off the week by convincing a Kentucky school district to adhere to the Constitution.

“A Kentucky school district has removed a Bible verse from an athletic locker room after receiving a complaint from the Freedom from Religion Foundation,” says an AP story in the Louisville paper. “The decision came after the organization sent a letter to the district stating that the message violated the Constitution, Letcher County Schools Superintendent Denise Yonts told WYMT-TV on Wednesday.”

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Thanks for listening, Letcher County!

Use science — not prayers — to combat the coronavirus
FFRF Director of Strategic Response Andrew Seidel penned a hard-hitting blog slamming the Trump administration’s coronavirus response, headed by that Christian Nationalist exemplar: Mike Pence.

“Thoughts and prayers won’t stop a virus any more than they will a bullet. But that hasn’t stopped evangelical Christians, including many Christian Nationalists in the Trump administration, from praying about the spreading coronavirus,” Andrew wrote. “And that means our country could be in big trouble.”

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See our attorneys speak!
The coronavirus is, of course, not deterring freethinkers from traveling and coming together. Atheists, Humanists, & Agnostics (AHA), the student organization at the University of Wisconsin, is organizing its Freethought Fest this weekend, and FFRF Senior Counsel Patrick Elliott will be speaking there the afternoon of Saturday, March 7. Come on by if you’re in the Midwest! And Andrew is making an appearance in the Bronx on Thursday, March 12, to talk about his new book, The Founding Myth. Hope to see all you New Yawhkers there.

Weighing in on a Supreme case
A U.S. Supreme Court abortion rights case in which we’ve signed on to an amicus brief drew our particular attention this week, eliciting responses from us both before and after the hearing.

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Roe v. Wade is as endangered under the current Supreme Court as our Establishment Clause,” we wrote at the start of the week. “Those of us who cherish true religious liberty — and the right to be free from religious intrusion in our government, laws and social policy — must march forth as never before. Our rights depend on it.”

The day after the hearing, we asked the Supreme Court to respect precedent.

“Religion has been the main force behind laws that limit the rights of women when it comes to contraceptives and abortion, compelling the Freedom From Religion Foundation to often speak out on the issue,” we stated. “The state/church watchdog urges the U.S. Supreme Court to not fall for the specious anti-abortion arguments of the Religious Right.”

A secular studies pioneer at our Nov. convention
This week, we happily revealed an addition to our lineup for our annual convention. Phil Zuckerman, a pioneer scholar of secular studies and a lively speaker, will be addressing FFRF’s November gathering in San Antonio. He’ll be joining a roster that includes Gloria Steinem, John Irving and Margaret Atwood. “Secularism with its emphasis on empathy, ethical living, compassion, being in the here and now — it’s the only way we’re going to solve any problems,” Zuckerman said during a recent appearance on our TV show. We completely agree! Sign up now.

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Important congressional matters
Congressional matters took up some of our attention this week. Andrew and FFRF Attorney Liz Cavell hosted this week’s “Ask an Atheist” Facebook Live feature focusing on a sparks-flying recent congressional hearing critiquing the Trump administration’s attempts to weaponize religious liberty. And we asked you all to help hold this administration accountable by ensuring that Congress uses the appropriations process to block Trumpian religious entities and regulations. Please lend a hand!

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A musical treat this Sunday
We bring you a musical treat on our “Freethought Matters” TV show this Sunday with a highlighting of freethought in the Great American Songbook for the second week in a row. Dan, an accomplished jazz pianist, plays selections from freethinking composers such as Yip Harburg, Jay Gorney, Richard Rodgers, Frank Loesser and Charles Strouse. Find out where you can watch this show this Sunday. Or you can always catch it on our YouTube channel.

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A global exposé

Our radio show went in a different direction: Dan and Annie Laurie talked with investigative journalist Nandini Archer about her group Open Democracy’s amazingly global exposé that revealed American anti-abortion evangelicals’ funding of dishonest crisis pregnancy centers all over the world. FFRF Attorney Sam Grover also filled us in on FFRF’s first lawsuit in Puerto Rico, filed last week to challenge coerced school prayer. Take a listen!

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Whichever direction we go in — serious or fun, local or global — we’re able to do it only due to your help and kindness.

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