We at the Freedom From Religion Foundation took on the three branches of government this week — and did so much more.
We urged Chief Justice John Roberts to probe into a Religious Right outfit’s startling claims that it has prayed with Supreme Court justices inside the court itself. Our letter, written along with two other like-minded groups, asked Roberts to note the extraordinary nature of these allegations. That’s why an investigation is absolutely necessary, we asserted.
Even when we didn’t directly tackle the nation’s highest court, we had to contend with the fallout from the terrible rulings it has handed down over the past month. Do not misinterpret a recent Supreme Court decision, we warned a California school board against whom we have won a historic judgment. After Kennedy v. Bremerton School District was released in late June, some members of the Chino Valley Unified School Board have openly discussed introducing prayer back into their school board meetings. “The Bremerton decision doesn’t change anything regarding school board prayer,” remarked FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. And preaching by a public school is still illegal, we maintained to an Alabama middle school in the wake of the Bremerton ruling.
Declare a national emergency, Mr. President!
We asked the Biden administration to declare a national emergency over abortion care. “This is a national health emergency,” emphasized Annie Laurie, “and President Biden needs to act accordingly. The Supreme Court’s cruel reversal of Roe v. Wade has thrown our nation into crisis and turmoil and is the equivalent of a national disaster.”
Trying to catch the IRS’ attention
We flagged an executive agency multiple times this week. We insisted that the IRS investigate five Ohio churches that have been blatantly campaigning for an Ohio senatorial candidate (Josh Mandel). And we condemned the growing trend of right-wing groups, abetted by the IRS, to evade financial scrutiny by reorganizing as churches. Not only is this a scam, but it also has real-life political consequences in a nation increasingly divided by Christian nationalist attacks on secular government.
We spent some time dealing with Congress. We contended that the Christian nationalist influence behind the Jan. 6 attack was laid bare at this week’s congressional hearing in the form of testimony entered about Roger Stone, longtime adviser to Donald Trump. We insisted, as part of a multifarious coalition, to the Senate majority leader that the Senate must prioritize confirming federal judicial nominees before August or postpone the August recess if necessary. And we praised a new measure, introduced by Congressional Freethought Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Jared Huffman, that’ll rein in religious health care entities (known as health care sharing ministries) that masquerade as health insurance but don’t deliver. “The bill is a tremendous step forward,” said FFRF Co-President Dan Barker.
An awful school voucher program
State-level legislative shenanigans didn’t escape our notice. We denounced Arizona’s school voucher expansion measure, the most ambitious in the country. Taxpayers in the Grand Canyon State are now required to pay for any student’s private schooling, including those who attend religious schools that conflict with the taxpayer’s own religious beliefs.
Public radio interview
We had a pleasant experience with the Fourth Estate. Wisconsin Public Radio invited Annie Laurie to talk about the implications of all the bad recent Supreme Court decisions. Listen to her analysis here.
Anti-abortionists are revealing their true colors
Annie Laurie wrote a blog, too, in which she blasted the anti-abortion zealots and their shills in public office and the media who have shown their true colors after the Supreme Court decision reversing Roe v. Wade. She focuses on a tragic recent instance involving a fourth-grader impregnated by rape.
“We used to read about these extreme cases in Latin American countries ruled by the Catholic Church, and shake our heads,” she concluded. “Now it’s happening here in the United States — and it’s just the beginning of unspeakable injustices and hardships, most of which will never be known to the general public.”
In her column for us this week (“Abortion for me, not for thee”), FFRF Contributing Writer Barbara Alvarez lays bare the hypocrisy of so many Christian women when it comes to abortion. “The only moral abortion is my own abortion” is the prevalent notion among a lot of believers, she says.
The scary phenomenon of Christian nationalism
FFRF Legal Intern Katie Sticklen provided a look in her blog at the scariest phenomenon afflicting the country: Christian nationalism. “Christian nationalism threatens our democracy and its foundations of fundamental rights, protections and freedoms,” she concluded.
When America was gripped by “Satanic Panic”
Veteran freethinker and writer Jim Haught engaged in time travel in his piece, focusing on the “Satanic Panic” that disfigured the country a few decades ago. “It was a crazed time of fundamentalist superstition run amok,” he remarks.
How secular morality will save the world
For our “Ask an Atheist” Facebook Live feature this week, we played a highlight from our convention last year in Boston. Pitzer College Secular Studies Professor Phil Zuckerman, the author of several books, gave a talk there about “How Secular Morality Will Save the World.” Watch it here.
A radio double feature
And on our radio show, we had a double feature. Actress Randa Black explained why she gave a secular invocation rather than a prayer at a city council meeting, and Professor Randall Cragun talked about how he challenged Alabama’s discriminatory voter registration law — and won.
Multiple branches of government, multiple channels of media — we had so many points of contact this week, and all in the service of freethought and secularism.