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Our lobbying arm, a national victory, regressive Texas and absurd Arkansas

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Lobbying arm

We love narratives of secular progress — and we have a few for you this week.

We are pleased to announce an enhancement of our work due to your steady support. We have launched FFRF Action Fund Inc., which will focus on lobbying and advocacy efforts. Our secular constituency continually sees our values being stifled and outvoted, even though there are more of us. The fund will be free to take strong and unapologetic positions on legislative issues, as well as do some electoral work, including candidate endorsement. We’re truly excited!

How we won on the National Prayer Breakfast
FFRF Director of Governmental Affairs Mark Dann tells the captivating story of how we deprived the quasi-official National Prayer Breakfast of its sacrosanct status.

“We have shown that the secular community, with religious allies and friends from the civil rights sphere, can accomplish reforms once thought to be impossible,” is his upbeat conclusion.  “If we follow a solid strategy, carefully choose our targets and work together, we can accomplish a lot of wonderful things going forward.”

We made the Wisconsin DOT remove religious signs
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The Wisconsin Department of Transportation removed two Christian displays from a local rest stop after we demanded action. We received a department letter stating that officials “have determined the current signs as described should be removed and we have accordingly directed our regional staff to remove the signs.” Yay!

A secular court that made history
FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor reminds us of a secular triumph in the past — and points out the contrast with the current-day situation. Her blog begins, “Can you imagine a judge — any American judge today — with the courage and the insight to write this: ‘There is no such source and cause of strife, quarrel, fights, malignant opposition, persecution, and war, and all evil in the state, as religion. Let it once enter our civil affairs, our government would soon be destroyed. Let it once enter our common schools, they would be destroyed.’” Read on to know the whole story.

Texas is vexingly regressive
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Alas, it’s not all forward motion. Texas, in particular, is proving to be vexingly regressive. A shocking legislative proposal there would destroy state/church separation. And we’re demanding that the bible-quoting West Texas A&M University president rescind his decision to cancel a student-hosted drag show.  “West Texas A&M isn’t a fundamentalist church — it’s a public university that requires free inquiry, diversity and freedom from censorship,” says Annie Laurie.

Arkansas is being truly absurd
It’s little better next door to Texas. Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders has signed into law a bill to erect a monument to unborn fetuses on state Capitol grounds. This absurdity would join the Ten Commandments monument installed at the Capitol in 2018, which we are suing over.

Christian nationalism in Idaho
And things are bad even much further north, since Idaho is a hotbed of Christian nationalism. Josiah Mannion, a photographer and activist Idahoan who has been involved in combating the phenomenon there, joins FFRF’s Ryan Dudley and Chris Line in our Facebook Live “Ask an Atheist” feature to talk about the scourge.

A memoir about youthful religious radicalism
Former minister and religion scholar Bradley Onishi talks to Freethought Radio co-hosts Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor about his new book Preparing for War: The Extremist History of White Christian Nationalism — and What Comes Next, which contains a riveting account of his own youthful religious radicalism.

U.S. evangelicals are directing Ugandan extremism
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Unfortunately, extremism is quite on display in other countries, too. A new Uganda death penalty law for LGBTQ-plus folks is in good part the work of U.S. missionaries who have established a stronghold of influence in many African countries. “It’s beyond shameful that U.S. ministries are pouring their tax-exempt millions into Uganda and other African nations in order to spread hate, division and violence,” says Annie Laurie.

Children’s author offers secular advice on our TV show
A bestselling children author offers secular advice on our TV show Sunday. Joy Berry has written more than 200 books, selling over 85 million copies worldwide, that help children be responsible and ethical. “If you want a child to embrace whatever it is you believe, live it and prove to the child that it’s viable — and the child will embrace it on those terms,” she says. You can already watch the show on our YouTube channel. Or find out where you can catch it on television Sunday.

Legislative assault on transgender people
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This month on the only all-women secular legal podcast in the United States, three powerhouse attorneys (two from FFRF!) discuss the history of legislative attacks on transgender people. “We Dissent” hosts FFRF Legal Director Rebecca Markert, FFRF Attorney Liz Cavell and American Atheist Attorney Alison Gill talk to special guest Sasha Buchert from Lambda Legal. Listen here for a captivating discussion.

We need to reclaim the phrase ‘dignity and compassion’
“The phrase ‘dignity and compassion’ is being weaponized to mask the cruel reality of anti-abortion laws,” says FFRF Contributing Writer Barbara Alvarez. Barbara tells us a number of ways we on the secular end of the spectrum can reclaim the phrase.

Favorite musical compositions
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For a refreshing change of pace, veteran freethinker and writer Jim Haught has a deeply personal essay listing his favorite musical compositions. See his list and compare it with yours.

We have lots of tales (sometimes musical) to share every week — and at least some of them are, with your help, stories of triumph.

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