It sometimes seems incredible how far we are able to move the ball forward in just a few days of working to defend our secular Constitution.
Thanks to our lawsuit, the electoral system in New Jersey is becoming markedly more inclusive. We filed a lawsuit just last month on behalf of a N.J. resident against the N.J. secretary of state for forcing candidates for public office to swear a mandatory religious oath in order to appear on the ballot. As a result of our litigation, we’re delighted to report that political candidates in the Garden State will no longer have to unwillingly take a religious oath, since, thankfully, the state of New Jersey proved willing to comply with the U.S. Constitution and resolve the issue.
“We’re glad that the state of New Jersey saw the error of its stubbornly noninclusive ways,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “Residents will now not have to choose between lying or not running for office.”
Our success is getting major media coverage — a lot actually. Check out just some of the stories here.
We saved S.C. taxpayers more than $1 million
Another FFRF lawsuit settled just last week that saved South Carolina taxpayers a ton of money is also getting press attention.
“A South Carolina nonprofit at the center of a legal battle over the public funding of private schools has withdrawn its claim to $1.5 million in state funding, court records show,” says a story in the South Carolina capital newspaper. “The money had been tied up since last December pending the resolution of a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the distribution. The suit, filed by the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation, argued the $1.5 million earmark violated the ‘no-aid’ clause in South Carolina’s Constitution, which prohibits the direct funding of private and religious educational institutions.”
You’re welcome, South Carolina folks!
FFRF has now successfully settled three court cases in the past month. These wins above join the victorious resolution on Oct. 26 of our federal challenge to religious revivals in public schools in Cabell County, W.Va.
The media is loving our objection to football baptisms
Our objection to a Georgia football coach’s player baptisms has earned a lot of media focus. Georgia Public Broadcasting did an extensive interview with FFRF attorney Chris Line that you can read here.
The coach was fired after this egregiously unconstitutional behavior for conduct supposedly unrelated to the incident, although that hasn’t stopped some media outlets from implying that FFRF’s complaint is behind the firing.
We don’t mind the credit!
Texas State Board of Education must respect science
We’re urging the Texas State Board of Education to adopt textbooks that teach the truth about evolution and the human impact on climate change. The board voted on Nov. 14 to withhold preliminary approval for science textbooks from more than half of the submissions it received this year apparently because these textbooks accurately discuss evolution and climate change. “America cannot possibly compete in a global market by withholding basic scientific facts from students.” says Annie Laurie.
Our victory in Mississippi
We had a significant local victory in Mississippi. We succeeded in getting children protected from religious indoctrination in New Augusta, Miss., after their teacher was forcing them to pray in school.
“I have notified the building administrator of this concern, and she has addressed this with the teacher and her entire staff,” the school system superintendent replied to FFRF Legal Fellow Sammi Lawrence after she alerted the district to this unconstitutional behavior. “In addition, all building administrators at all other schools in the district have been instructed to be mindful of such acts and how it is inappropriate for the school setting.”
A flurry of interventions
We engaged in a number of other interventions at the state and local levels.
We called out a South Carolina state representative for using state resources to send proselytizing messages to his constituents. (Check out here how bad his birthday greeting was to a person in his district.) We demanded that an Alaska borough rescind its new policy of chaplain-delivered prayer in disregard of our constitutionally sound advice. And we urged a North Carolina school district to end board-led prayers.
Our commentary on pressing issues
We had a lot to say about urgent matters — national and international.
The continuing near-daily revelations about the religiously extreme views of new House Speaker Mike Johnson should be cause for concern for any American who values our secular democracy, we stressed. We expressed our disappointment that the Supreme Court has belatedly adopted an ethics code that has no teeth and sets an even lower bar than the existing code of ethics for lower court judges. We marked the 30th anniversary of an egregious law — the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) — that we opposed from the start. (On this month’s episode of “We Dissent,” FFRF Legal Director Rebecca Markert and FFRF attorney Liz Cavell interview eminent legal scholar Marci Hamilton on the detrimental effects of RFRA.) And we said “Brilliant!” in response to an announcement that a bill will soon be introduced in Parliament to disestablish the Church of England.
FFRF Action Fund (our lobbying arm) is still looking for an outcry from Trump’s evangelical base over the increasingly fascist, frightening remarks and proposals of presidential candidate Donald Trump. How can Trump’s evangelical base continue to support this dangerous demagogue?
The National Prayer Breakfast, alas, continues
The National Prayer Breakfast, a quasi-official event that we have kept tabs on over the years, has undergone recent twists and turns. FFRF Director of Governmental Affairs Mark Dann and FFRF State Advocacy Specialist Ryan Dudley talk with TYT’s Jonathan Larsen, who has done stellar reporting on the subject, about fresh developments.
An objector to the Constitution
Our TV show this Sunday features a person who doesn’t have a very high opinion of the U.S. Constitution. The ebullient, witty and humorous Elie Mystal says the Constitution was written by a bunch of rich, white, Christian, racist males making deals with each other. You can already watch the show on our YouTube channel. Or find out where you catch it on television Sunday.
Freedom from religious fundamentalism
On our Freethought Radio show this week, we announce our Triumphant Trifecta of legal victories. Then we hear Jen Castle, the national director of abortion services for Planned Parenthood, deliver an impassioned speech in acceptance of FFRF’s “Henry Zumach Freedom From Religious Fundamentalism” award of $35,000 to the national group.
Our riveting columnists
Our blog contributors this week write scintillating columns on very different issue — even if they share the same first name.
FFRF Contributing Writer Barbara Alvarez hails the passage of the Ohio referendum protecting abortion access, saying that it teaches us a number of lessons. And Barbara Walker explains why religion is the greatest scam. “Let us do what we can in our own lifetimes to bring [its end] a little bit closer,” she concludes.
That is what we are precisely attempting to do week in and week out — with your generous support.