From embarking on joint missions with eminent personalities and handing out awards to receiving media coverage and calling for boycotts — the Freedom From Religion Foundation gets an amazing amount accomplished in a single week.
We’re launching a venture with Ann Druyan, who is, of course, the co-creator along with her husband Carl Sagan of “Cosmos,” one of the most renowned TV series ever. We’ve had a long relationship with her and are elated at setting off on this journey. “We’re delighted that we’ll be collaborating with Ann to try and redefine space exploration from a more humanistic perspective,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor.
Awarding student activism
We proudly named Florida teenager Will Larkins, only 17, as recipient of our Catherine Fahringer Student Activist Award, which includes a $5,000 cash scholarship. Larkins, a junior at Winter Park High School, Fla., is president and co-founder of the school’s Queer Student Union and one of the organizers of an impressive walkout of 500 students on March 7 against a reprehensible anti-LGBTQ state bill. He also testified at the Florida Statehouse against the “Don’t Say Gay” bill and had an op-ed in The New York Times. Congratulations, Will!
Garnering media attention
Our efforts have gotten a remarkable amount of media coverage recently. The Washington Post spotlighted our report unearthing the role that Christian nationalism played in the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection. Our admonitions to several school boards in the Colorado Springs area have created a local media flurry. And a move by an FFRF home county supervisor to nix the Pledge of Allegiance has been featured in stories nationally — with the articles noting that it’s the county where we are based.
A boycott of Idaho potatoes
The Idaho governor rightly earned our wrath when he spinelessly signed into law an extreme abortion ban (even while criticizing the measure). We are urging a boycott of Idaho potatoes over the law, noting our country can do without Idaho potatoes, but American women can’t do without individual and reproductive liberties. The Boise paper actually published Annie Laurie’s letter warning of the boycott.
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The real-life impact of anti-abortion laws
All of the anti-abortion measures affect real-life reproductive choices, as FFRF Contributing Writer Barbara Alvarez warns in her column this week, using a friend of hers as an example. “As secular activists, our aim should be to build a country where people can choose to have children or not have children based on their own decisions, not as pawns in religious or economic schemes,” she concludes.
The Supreme Court concentrated our minds over the past few days, first due to a hearing and then because of a decision. We called out Sen. Lindsey Graham for his bizarre and phony line of questioning of Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson about her religion. And we lamented the fact that the Supreme Court missed an opportunity to ban death penalty in a recent ruling regarding a case in which we filed an amicus brief. “A state-sponsored execution violates the Eighth Amendment because it permanently destroys a person’s human dignity, and is thus cruel and unusual,” our brief had stated.
Constitutionally rectifying the government
We remained focused on our task of ensuring that governmental bodies stay true to the Constitution — even obtaining a notable victory in the process. We actually persuaded a N.C. sheriff to drop religion from a summer camp that his department operates. We’re pleased that our communication brought about the realization in the sheriff that his camp was being discriminatory. We urged a Tennessee city to remove its unconstitutional restraints concerning “blasphemous” language in its municipal code. “Blasphemy laws have no place in a secular country like the United States,” Annie Laurie remarked. We’re asking the IRS to take action against a multistate church for blatant electioneering. And we’re calling on a Virginia school board to stop opening its meetings with a prayer.
Helping out the Ukrainian refugees
Our multimedia offerings this week provide an amazing array. On our “Ask An Atheist” Facebook Live feature, FFRF Co-Presidents Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor interviewed two Polish freethinking activists about an atheist organized campaign launched by the Kazimierz Lyszczynski Foundation and the “Freedom From Religion Poland” to aid Ukrainian refugees in their country.
A jazzy musical television treat
Our TV show this week is a jazzy musical delight. Addison Frei and Tahira Clayton, atheists and well-known jazz musicians, perform freethinking numbers. You can already watch the show on our YouTube channel. Or find out where you can catch it on Sunday.
The bible and slavery
We first hear on our radio show this week Clayton and Frei perform freethinker Cole Porter’s “I Concentrate on You,” and then Freethought Radio co-hosts Dan and Annie Laurie interview Professor of Religion Jeremy Schipper about his new book, Denmark Vesey’s Bible: The Thwarted Revolt that Put Slavery and Scripture on Trial, which talks about how the bible was used on both sides of the slavery/anti-slavery debate.
How the Inquisition and witch hunts scarred Europe
Veteran freethinker and writer Jim Haught describes in his column this week how the Inquisition and witch hunts marred Europe for centuries. After providing horrific details, Haught quotes Mark Twain as saying about this madness: “One does not know whether to laugh or to cry.”
We sometimes feel the same way about the effects of organized religion today. Whether through laughter or tears, we relentlessly take on religion with your support and generosity.