The Freedom From Religion Foundation used the occasion of Independence Day to celebrate both the country’s freedom and its freedom, officially, from religion. Folks noticed.
“Arts and crafts giant Hobby Lobby faced a backlash after it ran a full-page advertisement on July 4 in several newspapers across the U.S. that appeared to call for a Christian-run government,” Newsweek reports. “Hobby Lobby quoted former presidents who signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776 in its campaign, including George Washington, but the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) reported that the company had altered the quotes without providing the full context.”
Indeed, our Fourth of July statement dissecting the Hobby Lobby ads seems to have gotten a good amount of attention, including from Christians actually taking our side.
We ‘Nones’ can be formidable
As it happens, there was some good news on the freedom from religion front. We welcomed a survey that shows a shrinking white Christian majority and a stable percentage of religiously unaffiliated Americans. “This groundbreaking study shows how important it is that we ‘Nones’ must flex our collective muscle, through our ballots and our lobbying presence, to ensure that our government and courts know we are here,” FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor said.
Growing nonbelief in statehouses
Our “Ask an Atheist” Facebook Live feature toasted that fact by highlighting the increasing number of freethinking state legislators. Annie Laurie and FFRF Director of Governmental Affairs Mark Dann chatted with Wisconsin state Sen. Kelda Roys and PAC Manager of the Center for Freethought Equality Ron Millar about how nonbelievers are gaining ground in legislatures across the country, why that’s critical for our movement, and how we’re pushing back against the Christian nationalist legislative agenda.
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An advance for menstrual equity
And there seems to be good legislation being passed in at least some states. Noting that all major religions have stigmatized menstruation, we applauded Rhode Island Gov. Daniel McKee for signing into law a requirement that feminine hygiene products be provided for free in all public schools in the state. We hope to see other states follow suit.
Sen. Johnson’s anti-science approach
One of the most prominent legislators from our home state is in a different zone, though. U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson has long been in denial about both climate change and the pandemic, and we chided him for his string of anti-science pronouncements. Johnson should be ashamed of himself for using his position in the Senate to so consistently be on the wrong side of science.
Protecting our Constitution
We busily involved ourselves in protecting our secular Constitution as soon as we came back from the long weekend. Get rid of a religious partner, we advised a Wisconsin school district. “It is absolutely unnecessary for school officials to venture into a thicket of thorny constitutional questions in picking a religiously sectarian counseling group,” Annie Laurie remarked. And we are intensely probing a constitutionally suspect arrangement that a California park has entered into with a local church.
“The church-park coziness brings forth troubling constitutional questions,” comments Annie Laurie. “At the very least, it deserves further investigation.”
A worrisome trend
FFRF Anne Nicol Gaylor Reproductive Rights Intern Barbara Alvarez spotlights in her blog this week a worrisome trend: the relentless pace of anti-abortion legislation nationwide. “With the ultraconservative Supreme Court slated to hear a major anti-abortion case this fall, we must stand up for abortion rights now,” she advises.
It’s a crime to trust God
In his simultaneously topical and timeless column, veteran writer and freethinker Jim Haught uses a lawsuit brought against the imposition of “In God We Trust” on Mississippi drivers to pinpoint a deeper problem with the motto: It’s often a crime to actually trust God, such as in the case of parents who let their sick children die untreated because they trust only prayer.
On our radio show this week, Freethought Radio co-hosts Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor talk with Pakistani-American Muhammad Syed, co-founder and president of Ex-Muslims of North America (EXMNA), about a new and unique report that has surveyed hundreds of former Muslims who have left Islam.
We’ll be filing a brief before the Supreme Court
We are anxious about the direction the U.S. Supreme Court is taking the country in — anxiety reinforced by its decision late last week to review a Maine private school grant program. FFRF intends to file an amicus brief before the court, since forcing taxpayers to subsidize religious indoctrination undermines taxpayers’ constitutional rights, as well as secular education.
With your backing, we’ll be able, hopefully, to keep this country constitutionally free from religion for many, many July Fourths to come.