We were preoccupied this week at the Freedom From Religion Foundation with the onslaught of religious nationalism — both domestically and globally.
The Religious Right assaults women’s rights
Here in the United States, an extremely disturbing recent manifestation of the Religious Right resurgence has been the attack on abortion rights in statehouses around the country. This week saw a national mobilization to counter this assault, and we gladly extended our support.“Today, May 21, on the National Day of Action to Stop Abortion Bans, pro-choice protests are being kicked off in front of the U.S. Supreme Court and will continue around the country the rest of the week,” we wrote, and exhorted all of you: “Look for details about the more than 350 registered events at the #StopTheBans website. Then speak up, protest, do something this week to protect abortion rights.”We pointed out that abortion is a state/church issue, with anti-abortionists almost purely motivated by religious zealotry.
We dedicated most of our Facebook Live “Ask an Atheist” this week to the National Day of Action, too, with FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor and FFRF Staff Attorney Liz Cavell giving tips on all that can be done to resist the offensive against women’s rights. Then, FFRF Director of Strategic Response Andrew Seidel checked in from the Bible Belt, where he’s promoting his very un-Christian book, “The Founding Myth: Why Christian Nationalism is Un-American.” Watch to see how he fared in the most religious part of the United States.
Making our presence felt on Capitol Hill
Our newly hired lobbyist on Capitol Hill, Mark Dann (second from left), is already hard at work. Along with other secular representatives, he recently attended an Interfaith Alliance reception that included luminaries like Khizr Khan, the Gold Star father who famously took on President Trump during the presidential campaign.
Undermining secularism globally
Another disturbing development for secularists came from overseas: from the world’s largest secular democracy, no less. India re-elected its Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with dire implications for the country’s freethinkers and religious minorities. FFRF Co-President Dan Barker and I interviewed Irfan Engineer, the director of the Mumbai-based Centre for the Study of Society and Secularism, all the way from India via the phone to get a first-hand perspective on the consequences of the results. The show also had a discussion of abortion rights, and, to lighten the mood a little, an Irish atheist comedian’s monologue.
We issued a statement on the Indian elections, too, warning about the global consequences — and vowing to fight this menace.“The repeat triumph of the Modi-led ruling coalition will likely bring an escalation of that assault and an intensification of the global sectarian project — a troubling future for India and the world at large,” we said. “It’s time universally for secular forces to push back. The Freedom From Religion Foundation will do our best to counter this triumphant Hindu nationalism — as it does various forms of religious extremism around the planet.”
On our “Newsbite” feature, yours truly pithily explained why the Indian election results are just the latest installment of the 70-year-old battle for the “Idea of India” between its secular foundational ideals and a resurgent Hindu Right that wants to undermine them. I also made clear how Modi’s re-election is part of a worrisome global trend that now envelops many of the world’s largest democracies, including the United States and India.
A musical treat
We don’t want to be all serious, so to lighten your spirits, we have a special treat on our “Freethought Matters” TV show this Sunday: a program highlighting the music from our past shows. (Check out our national listings here.) And you can always catch the program on our YouTube channel. Enjoy (especially since we’re taking a summer hiatus after this show, back on the air Sept. 1)!
A cheerful Alabamian victory
And we had a victory to cheer us up, too. We ensured a formal end to an elementary school teacher in Birmingham, Ala., evangelizing to her young students. “Proselytizing a captive audience of 6- and 7-year-olds is an egregious violation, and we’re glad that the district put the kibosh on such an undesirable practice after we objected,” Annie Laurie remarked.Combating the onslaught of the Religious Right at home and abroad, and spreading good cheer and secularism: all in a week’s work for us — and made possible only due to you.