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National media coverage, wins over Gov. Abbott and Deion Sanders, and a troublesome covert action

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Gov. Abbott

Our anti-theocratic efforts have received widespread national recognition.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has been in the forefront of the campaign to get the malignly influential and quasi-official National Prayer Breakfast scuttled. This week, our attempts got noticed far and wide.

National Public Radio described FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor as a “chief critic” of the breakfast, quoting her as saying that “it sends a message of exclusion to non-Christians and especially the majority of nonbelievers.” The Associated Press quoted Annie Laurie from a letter that we spearheaded to Congress calling for the dissolution of the National Prayer Breakfast: “For decades, FFRF has protested the appearance of the National Prayer Breakfast being a quasi-governmental gathering, which pressures the president and Congress to put on a display of piety that sends a message that the United States is a Christian nation.” And CBS News ran the exact same quote!

We’ve exerted a lot of energy over the years on this issue, and so we’re pleased that we’re finally getting this much media attention.

Our victory over Gov. Abbott
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We received some wonderful news late last week: We won our case before an appeals court against the Texas governor’s censorship of our Capitol display.

“We’re very happy that our victory in the lower court has survived Gov. Greg Abbott’s latest appeal,” noted FFRF Associate Counsel Sam Grover, who has argued the case for us. “The governor’s stubborn refusal to admit his wrongdoing throughout this litigation has been baffling, and it is unfortunate that Texas taxpayers may ultimately bear the costs of his repeated appeals.”

Sam Grover talked on Freethought Radio this week with co-hosts Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor about our win. Then, the show played Nebraska state Sen. Megan Hunt, an atheist working to keep religion and government separate, as she accepted FFRF’s “Champion of the First Amendment” award at its national convention last year.

We coached Deion Sanders
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We successfully coached sports legend Deion Sanders on the constitutional separation between state and religion in his new role as the University of Colorado coach.

“Last Friday, the Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance personally met with Coach Sanders to provide guidance on the nondiscrimination policies, including guidance on the boundaries in which players and coaches may and may not engage in religious expression,” University of Colorado Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Operating Officer Patrick T. O’Rourke wrote back to us. “Coach Sanders was very receptive to this training and came away from it with a better understanding of the University of Colorado’s policies and the requirements of the Establishment Clause.”

California media covers us
Our efforts to get prayers stopped at a California school board’s meetings made the news.

“FFRF Attorney Christopher Line, who sent the letter [on our behalf] to the trustees, said holding a prayer at a school board meeting violates the First Amendment’s ‘separation of church and state mandate,” a local paper reported. “While prayers are legally allowed at meetings of other locally elected boards and councils, school trustee meetings are different because they sometimes involve students, and they may feel pressured into adopting religious beliefs associated with prayers, Line said.”

Ala. school district stops the Gideons due to our letter
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We made Opelika City Schools in Alabama ensure that its future high school graduations will be free of bible distributions. FFRF Legal Fellow Sammi Lawrence wrote a letter to officials stating, “When a public school distributes religious literature to its students, it entangles itself with that religious message.” The school district’s legal counsel recently responded: “Gideons has been advised that no bibles will be accepted for distribution from this point forward.”


No funding of religious lines, we urged
We sent an urgent missive to the Miami Beach City Commission asking it to reject the maintenance grant for an eruv line, which acts as a way for Orthodox Jews to leave their homes during the Sabbath by “expanding” their private property. “This grant would draw a clear line in the sand in support of Orthodox Judaism — and no one else,” said Annie Laurie.

Spotlighting women’s protests in Iran
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An international secularist spotlights Iran on our Sunday TV show. “This women’s revolution is going to bring the Islamic regime of Iran to its knees,” Maryam Namazie tells “Freethought Matters” co-host Annie Laurie Gaylor. You can already watch the show on our YouTube channel. Or find out where you can catch it Sunday on television.

An outrageous reaction to a secular invocation
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On our “Ask an Atheist” Facebook Live feature, FFRF Associate Counsel Liz Cavell and FFRF Staff Attorney Chris Line spoke with FFRF member and Florida activist Joseph Richardson. Richardson is on the board of directors of the Central Florida Freethought Community and shared with Liz and Chris the outrageous nature of what happened after he delivered a secular invocation at the Lake County Board of Commissioners meeting on Dec. 6.

The battle to free the abortion pill
Our columnists offer perceptive insights this week on vastly different topics.

FFRF Contributing Writer Barbara Alvarez focuses on the uncertain future of abortion pill access. “The battle to free the abortion pill persists,” begins her piece detailing recent developments on this front.

How blowback helped bring about 9/11
f0c6a040 0b66 8877 4c01 ed1e26e11e44 National media coverage, wins over Gov. Abbott and Deion Sanders, and a troublesome covert action

Veteran writer and freethinker Jim Haught grapples with the blowback from American covert action abroad, as horribly exemplified by the Sept. 11 attacks. “It’s ironic that a Washington covert operation triggered the law of unintended consequences and helped inflict on the United States the worst terrorism attack in its history,” he says.

We know the corrosive effects of religion whenever it is part of policymaking, whether this is at home or abroad. That’s why we  do our utmost to keep it out of the public realm — with or without media coverage.

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