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FFRF loves defending the Constitution

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The statue of liberty surrounded by a tidal wave labeled theocracy

Valentine’s Day was this week, and FFRF again showed its undying love for the Constitution in myriad ways. Take a look at some of the things FFRF and the FFRF Action Fund have been up to this week in service of the Constitution and all Americans:

Religion and math don’t add up
A photo of the pamphlet given to the students.
FFRF’s legal team was able to stop a teacher from proselytizing the students in a math class in the Palm Beach County School District in Florida. (Yes, you read that right — a math class!)

FFRF wrote to the district in January after a Santaluces High School math teacher distributed devotional Christmas pamphlets from New Life Alliance Church to all of her students.

Superintendent Michael J. Burke emailed FFRF, writing, “This was a clear violation of School Board policy and we are in complete agreement that there is no place in our schools for proselytizing or antisemitism.” The teacher received a written reprimand as a result of an investigation, which is included in the employee’s personnel file.

How many U.S. adults are atheists?
Speaking of math . . . Sociology professor Ryan Cragun (who will be speaking at FFRF’s convention in Denver this September) took issue with a recent Pew Research Center survey showing that just 4 percent of Americans are atheists. He writes that the survey was inadequately worded, which led to faulty outcomes. He says atheists could actually make up 18 percent of the population.

“Consider how Pew asks participants about their religious affiliation: Included in the list of options are “atheist,” “agnostic” and “nothing in particular.” As the above example makes clear, atheist and agnostic are not religious affiliations. They are positions on the existence of a god (atheism) or the ability to gain knowledge of a deity (agnosticism). There is no religion of atheism or agnosticism. There are no clergy. There are no tithes. These are philosophical positions, not organized religions.”

FFRF removes religious ‘character coach’
The Urbandale Community School District in Iowa heeded a letter from FFRF. And will now ensure its basketball program stays free from religious entanglement.

FFRF received a report that an adult representative of the Central Iowa chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes was serving as a “character coach” for the boys’ basketball program at the high school. After hearing from FFRF Anne Nicol Gaylor Legal Fellow Sammi Lawrence, the district’s legal counsel wrote back to say the FCA official has been ousted.

FFRF blasts ‘corrective’ Christian prayer
A photo of the outside of the Tavares city hall
On Feb. 7, FFRF member and Central Florida Freethought Community Board Member Joseph Richardson gave a secular invocation to the Tavares City Council, only to have the mayor allow a “corrective” religious prayer immediately after.

FFRF Attorney Chris Line sent a letter to the council to complain about the incident, stating that scheduling a Christian prayer after a secular invocation is a discriminatory and unconstitutional practice. FFRF asserts that the best solution to the situation is to discontinue invocations altogether.

Deny foster care religious exemption request, FFRF brief insists
FFRF (along with Americans United) on Thursday filed an amicus brief stating that an Oregon woman’s religious challenge to state foster care regulations wold undermine the state’s ability to protect vulnerable children.

Jessica Bates, the plaintiff, claims that the state of Oregon violated her free-exercise and speech rights when the state denied her application to become a foster parent due to her refusal to comply with a state regulation requiring foster parents to “accept and support” LGBTQIA+ children.

Annie Laurie Gaylor calls out Christian nationalists
FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor’s most recent blog  highlights (lowlights?) the many lawmakers and politicians who have endorsed Christian nationalism.

“I’ve never witnessed anything quite like what we are seeing today: Open Christian nationalism is being espoused by so many at different levels in government, from school boards all the way to presidential candidates. As a minority, Christian nationalist aren’t fully in charge at the moment, but intend to be — and appear willing to do whatever it takes to gain that power, including voter suppression and even future insurrections.”

Barbara Walker takes God to task
A dark painting with the title "what's wrong with god" overtop it in cursive
In her latest published piece, FFRF Contributing Writer and Lifetime Member Barbara Walker didn’t mince words on her thoughts of God as a benevolent being.

“My childhood self wondered, what was the point of killing Jesus? If an all-powerful God wanted to save people, couldn’t he just eliminate hell, without all the folderol of a crude filicidal sacrifice? But no. Apparently, God really wanted to intimidate his poor subjects with that vision of endless agony that only really sick minds could create, and that same imaginary fear made enormous profits over the millennia for God’s ever-greedy minions on Earth.”

FFRF Action Fund denounces school chaplain bill
FFRF Action Fund Senior Policy Counsel Ryan Jayne’s op-ed in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette this week forewarned Indiana residents about a pending legislative measure that would bring religious chaplains into public schools.

“This invites a host of constitutional problems that the bill’s limited safeguards come nowhere near curing. . . Imagine a school principal who attends a Baptist church hiring that church’s pastor to be a school chaplain — encouraging students to meet with him during the school day and paying the pastor to proselytize students during those meetings.”

 Action Fund names Secularist and Theocrat of the Week
A photo of Juan Mendez titled "Secularist of the Week" and a photo of Jake Hoffman labeled "Theocrat of the Week"
FFRF Action Fund’s “Theocrat of the week” is Arizona state Sen. Jake Hoffman, who is trying to bar Satanic Temple displays from governmental property, while our “Secularist of the Week” is Arizona state Sen. Juan Mendez, who is championing the Satanic Temple’s free speech rights.

Hoffman’s bill would ban “satanic memorials, statues, altars or displays or any other method of representing or honoring Satan” on public property.

Mendez responded: “Any religion viewed by the sponsor as a desecration to Christianity is no longer safe in Arizona” and said the legislation is “a straight-up attack on the rights of people and religion.”

Action Fund commends Freethought Caucus
The FFRF Action Fund stands firmly with Congressional Freethought Caucus members who are demanding an explanation from the House Speaker and Chaplain for their decision to appoint Jack Hibbs, a well-known homophobic and Christian nationalist speaker, as a guest House chaplain.

The signatories also questioned why Rep. Mark Pocan’s request for FFRF Co-President Dan Barker to serve as a guest chaplain has been ignored. FFRF Action Fund calls on the House Chaplain Margaret Kibben to immediately approve Barker as a House guest chaplain to show goodwill to dispel the ill-feeling caused due to the scheduling of Hibbs despite the breaking of House rules.

Rep. Huffman exposes House speaker
A screenshot from freethought matters of Rep. Jared Huffman
Speaking of the Freethought Caucus, FFRF’s most recent TV show features Rep. Jared Huffman, who is co-chair of the caucus.
During the interview with “Freethought Matters” co-hosts Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor, Huffman reveals the Christian nationalist agenda of Speaker Mike Johnson.

“He’s obsessed with banning abortion, of course,” he says. “He’s obsessed with homosexuality, which he regards as a sin that is going to bring broad societal wrath from God on all of us.”

You can already watch the show on our YouTube channel. Or find out here where you can catch it on television Sunday.

Radio show features noted historian
A photo of Robin Vose and his book The Index of Prohibited Books: Four Centuries of Struggle Over Word and Image for the Greater Glory of God
On “Freethought Radio” this week, topics of discussion include Christian nationalism, leaving the Mormon Church, and religion in the classroom. Co-hosts Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor also interview historian Robin Vose, author of The Index of Prohibited Books: Four Centuries of Struggle Over Word and Image for the Greater Glory of God.

That’s it for another busy week at FFRF.  Thanks for being a member and we hope you have a great weekend!

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