Freethought NOW!

Media and senatorial mentions, a Texas mess, God’s machismo and the favoring of a killer

From capturing media attention in the Midwest to being warmly mentioned in a Hawaii senator’s press release, the Freedom From Religion Foundation is making quite an impression.

We created media waves in Ohio with our objection to unconstitutional prayer at a high school football game. Prominent stories on television, radio, print and blog sites made note of the controversy and our role. We hope this will make the Kirtland school system rein in its overly pious coach.

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An Indiana teacher who has recently been in the news after being captured on a security camera brutalizing a student had earlier caught our attention with his out-of-control religious conduct. A lot of the coverage of his beating of the student mentioned our complaint.

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Barbara Alvarez, FFRF contributing writer, in her column this week spotlights the National Day of Appreciation for Abortion Providers to show our appreciation and support for the individuals who stand up for justice every day. As Barbara’s piece notes, Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, named us and Women’s Medical Fund (run out of our offices) as supporting organizations in the resolution she introduced to officially commemorate the day.

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We love to mess with Texas
We’re persisting in our censorship case against the Texas governor with seemingly encouraging results. Appeals court judges seemed skeptical of Gov. Greg Abbott’s censorship of our display at the state Capitol.

“Hopefully, this will put a stop to Abbott unnecessarily wasting Texas taxpayer dollars — and censoring a freethought display honoring the Bill of Rights,” comments Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF co-president.

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FFRF attorney Sam Grover, who made the oral arguments in the Abbott case, provided an update on our radio show this week. Then, actress and author Alice Greczyn offered in a conversation with Freethought Radio co-hosts Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor a scientific explanation for ecstatic religious experiences based on her talk: “Drunk, High and Hypnotized: How Neurotheology Healed My Religious Trauma.”

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In-person rallies and meetings! 
Sam had to go down to New Orleans for the Abbott case. Another of our attorneys who traveled recently was Ryan Jayne, who made a trip to Des Moines for an in-person freethought rally, a rarity, of course, till very recently. He tells FFRF Legal Director Rebecca Markert on our Facebook Live “Ask an Atheist” feature all about the gathering. Rebecca, Dan, Annie Laurie and FFRF Governmental Affairs Director Mark Dann are currently at the first in-person annual meeting of the Secular Coalition for America groups since the pandemic began. Hopefully, all this is a sign that things are returning to normal.

Why is God so macho? 

Our TV show Sunday explores the alpha male God, pondering why so many gods (especially the God of the bible) behave like territorial, violent alpha males. “Gods often serve as men of war that lead men into battle,” Guest Hector A. Garcia, author of Alpha God: The Psychology of Religious Violence and Oppression and a clinical psychologist, explains to “Freethought Matters” co-hosts Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor. You can already watch the show here. Or find out where you can catch it Sunday.

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Showing religious favoritism toward a murderer

We spotlighted in Indiana an appalling instance of religious favoritism that the state’s Department of Correction has shown toward a mass murderer. Alyssa Shepherd, who was convicted of killing three children and badly injuring a fourth at their Fulton County bus stop in 2018, was released six months ahead of schedule because she participated in a bible study course. “The fact that she took a bible course should in no way, shape or form result in the truncating of a prison sentence for her,” Annie Laurie remarked.
Awful bills in Oklahoma and Florida
We decried regressive bills in Oklahoma and Florida. A patently unconstitutional bill declaring “The Holy Bible” the “official state book” has cleared an Oklahoma House committee, while another pernicious bill that would restrict teachers’ ability to teach evolutionary science and other important but potentially controversial subjects is awaiting committee approval. And the Florida Senate actually passed a notorious anti-gay bill that Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Catholic extremist, will gleefully sign into law. The basis of this bill is religiously motivated anti-LGBTQ animus, we emphasized.
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Accolades to Pakistani women!
On a more positive note, we celebrated International Women’s Day by cheering the bravery of Pakistani women who organized Aurat (women) Marches on Tuesday, March 8, in the face of severe intimidation. “The women of Pakistan, risking their lives to march against theocratic influence on government, should be an inspiration to us in America,” Annie Laurie commented.
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Aiming to ensure constitutional correctness
We made several interventions at the local level as part of our ongoing efforts to correct constitutional violations nationwide. We challenged a religious club in a Memphis middle schoolWe admonished a Colorado school district for sending its students to a proudly evangelical outfit for camp. And we demanded that a West Virginia high school remove an unconstitutional gigantic “God Bless America” message from its building.
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How do you talk with a believer?
How do we sincerely dialogue with well-meaning churchgoers, veteran freethinker and writer Jim Haught asks in his inimitable way. Read here to find out his (somewhat tongue-in-cheek) answer.
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You may have a different approach. We trust you on this — as we do for you to support us through thick and thin.

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