Loudspeaker prayers, Coach Staley, a praying judge and a jailed Nigerian freethinker

Ending loudspeaker prayers, rebuking a champion coach, offering oral arguments in an ongoing Texas praying judge case and mobilizing U.S. protest over an imprisoned Nigerian freethinker — it’s all in a week’s work for us here at the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

Our successful persuasion of an Alabama school district to end its practice of broadcasting pregame Christian prayers over loudspeakers has caused quite a media stir.

“Jefferson County Schools have agreed to stop opening high school football games with prayers broadcast over the public address loudspeakers, according to the Freedom From Religion Foundation, which complained about the practice at Gardendale High School and Pinson Valley High School,” reads a story on the state’s premier news portal. “Freedom From Religion Foundation Staff Attorney Chris Line sent a letter to Jefferson County School District calling it ‘inappropriate and unconstitutional’ to have prayers over the public address system at public school football games.”

And this is just a sample. Read the other coverage here.

Our persuasive arguments against a praying Texas judge
We offered powerful oral arguments in an ongoing case of a Texas judge’s imposed prayer. We won our lawsuit last year at the district court level over Montgomery County Judge Wayne Mack’s ostentatious courtroom prayer, and the case is now before a three-member court of (an archconservative) appeals panel. “Our attorney Sam Grover’s convincing reasoning is in keeping with this country’s constitutional precepts,” remarked FFRF Co-President Dan Barker. (A law publication covered Sam’s appearance, though the article is, alas, behind a paywall.)

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Congratulations Coach Staley, but please stop your proselytizing
We called out the University of South Carolina women’s basketball coach for her pregame preaching even as we congratulated her on her championship. We urged the university to ensure that Coach Dawn Staley understands she has been hired as a basketball coach and not as a pastor.

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No prison term for “blasphemy”!
We condemned the recent announcement of a 24-year (!) prison sentence for Nigerian freethinker Mubarak Bala for the alleged crime of “blasphemy” and set about mobilizing public pressure to get him released. Find out how you can help.

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A historic moment
We hailed the confirmation of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as the newest Supreme Court justice. “We are confident that Justice Brown Jackson will uphold the principles of the U.S. Constitution, including the all-American principle of separation between religion and government, and applaud this historic appointment,” said FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. And FFRF Legal Director Rebecca Markert applauded the significance of Brown Jackson for diversity.



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“Jackson’s confirmation will be a vital step in the right direction, and I’m personally excited that the Supreme Court will be closer to gender parity than ever before,” she concluded in a blog written shortly before the confirmation vote. “With four women on the Supreme Court, we’ll be one step closer to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s goal of ‘when there are nine.’”

Glimmer of hope on the abortion front
We’ve been keeping an eye on all the deleterious new anti-abortion state-level restrictions, and so we cheered with great relief when Colorado recently enacted a law that enshrines abortion rights. We must urge our legislators in other states to follow Colorado’s lead.

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To be anti-abortion is anti-science, as FFRF Contributing Writer Barbara Alvarez points out in her latest column. “Anti-abortionists, no matter what stripe, have it all wrong,” she asserts.

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Our radio show this week featured a trio of FFRF staff members discussing their recent work and areas of expertise. FFRF Senior Counsel Patrick Elliott described our friend-of-the-court brief to the Supreme Court about a praying high-school coach. Strategic Response Attorney Ryan Jayne talked about the many bad state bills dealing with LGBTQ rights. And Barbara gave an update on the good and (mostly) bad religiously motivated state bills dealing with abortion.

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Our lawsuit due to a W.Va. student activist 
We have a freethinking activist treat for you this Sunday on our “Freethought Matters” TV show: It features the intrepid young student who initiated a West Virginia school walkout that’s led to an FFRF lawsuit. “I have never been prouder of my peers than I am right now,” Max Nibert tells “Freethought Matters” co-hosts Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor. And we’re so proud of Max. Also on the show is our Patrick to explain the law. You can already watch the show on our YouTube channel. Or find out where you can catch it Sunday.

Loudspeaker prayers, Coach Staley, a praying judge and a jailed Nigerian freethinker

Religious discrimination in adoption and foster care
On our “Ask an Atheist” Facebook Live feature, we talk about an issue that many families have a huge personal stake in. FFRF IT Director James Phetteplace interviews two experts, Julie Kruse of Family Equality and Ernesto Olivares, about religion-based discrimination in the adoption and foster care systems.

Religion’s key role in civil wars
Veteran freethinker and writer Jim Haught provides a rich historical overview in his latest column focusing on the role religion has played in civil wars. Read it to deeply enhance your knowledge.

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We at the Freedom From Religion Foundation are certainly aware of the nastiness that occurs when religion mixes with politics. That’s why, with your help, we work day in and day out to ensure that they are kept apart.

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