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Secular displays, Supreme troubles, white Christian nationalism & a felled X-mas tree

The Freedom From Religion Foundation had a rich menu of activities this week.

With you all in the lead, we spread holiday cheer around the country. We placed annual secular holiday exhibits over the greater Chicago area to counter Christian nativity scenes on public property. And for the fifth year in a row, FFRF’s Bill of Rights “nativity” has been installed in the Iowa state Capitol. We would like to thank all of our members who have been ably assisting in putting up such exhibits.

Daley Center Plaza Winter 2021 Secular displays, Supreme troubles, white Christian nationalism & a felled X-mas tree
Activism pays dividends
Our activism — and yours — often has the desired effect. Sen. Tim Kaine has decided to skip the National Prayer Breakfast, and a prominent media outlet cites our efforts. An article on the Young Turks website notes, “The FFRF has long opposed the breakfast and had recently asked Kaine not to participate.” It quotes FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor: “We’re thrilled that Sen. Kaine has opted not to attend this pay-to-play political event that alienates nonreligious Americans, tramples the constitutional separation of state and church, and has a disturbing history of anti-LGBTQ bigotry.”

Our annual law school essay
We announced our fourth annual essay competition for law school students: a no more than 1,500 word essay on why religious exemptions from vaccine requirements are not required, with $10,000 in prize money. “We eagerly look forward to reading all the erudite secular-minded essays espousing a reason-based public health care policy,” says Annie Laurie. Please help spread the word!

2022 Law Student Essay Contest Secular displays, Supreme troubles, white Christian nationalism & a felled X-mas tree
Cheers and jeers
We cheered our home state governor’s decision to uphold abortion rights after he vetoed five bills that would have made abortion more restrictive in Wisconsin. And we asked a Virginia school district to stop its ongoing unconstitutional practice of opening school board meetings with a prayer. “It is beyond the scope of a public school board to schedule or conduct prayer as part of its meetings,” FFRF Staff Attorney Chris Line wrote to Hanover County School Board Chair Ola J. Hawkins.

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Speaking with knowledge about herd immunity
Our new legal fellow (who is also a veterinarian!), Karen Heineman, wrote a well-informed blog explaining the concept of herd health — and why we all need to get vaccinated in keeping with this principle. Karen appeared on our radio show this week to talk with Freethought Radio co-hosts Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor about herd immunity and about why Aaron Rodgers is wrong to claim he was “immunized” when he took ivermectin, a medication commonly used as an animal dewormer.

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Supreme shenanigans
Much of our focus has, not surprisingly, been on the nation’s high court. The fractured Supreme Court decision over Texas’ abortion ban will encourage other states to engage in legal duplicity when it comes to constitutional rights, we warned. “This decision calls into question whether our federal judiciary is willing or able to protect constitutional rights,” FFRF Legal Director Rebecca Markert concluded.

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The Supreme Court also held recent oral arguments in a challenge over religious education funding that seems poised to further erode the besieged wall of separation between state and church, we opined. We have filed an amicus brief with the court in the case (Carson v. Makin) that highlights the important issues at play.

Religious Schools Title Web Secular displays, Supreme troubles, white Christian nationalism & a felled X-mas tree

FFRF Director of Strategic Response Andrew Seidel wrote a nationally distributed op-ed chastising the presidential commission on Supreme Court reform for its avoidance of the truth. In a piece for The Progressive magazine’s national op-ed service, sent out by the Tribune News Service to numerous media outlets all over the globe, he excoriated the commission for not running with the most sensible solution. Read the entire piece here.

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FFRF Reproductive Rights Intern Barbara Alvarez (who is, alas, leaving us this month) has written a deeply felt column on what the court’s current stance on abortion means for women. In “You are not your own: a reflection on the bible and abortion legislation,” Barbara heartbreakingly lays out the current situation of women’s rights.

BarbaraAlarezUpdate Secular displays, Supreme troubles, white Christian nationalism & a felled X-mas tree
Spotlighting religious child abuse
This Sunday on our TV show, two experts shed light on the crucial but little-discussed subject of religious child abuse. “Toxic theology presents this idea of a god watching over you who judges everything you do so that children grow up being afraid to just be children,” Terri Daniel, a grief counselor and a nonreligious hospice chaplain, dissects this weird notion, for instance. You can already watch the show on our YouTube channel. Or find out where you can catch it Sunday.

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White Christian nationalism’s backstory
Veteran freethinker and writer Jim Haught provides the backstory for another serious and worrisome phenomenon: white Christian nationalism.

CN History Web Secular displays, Supreme troubles, white Christian nationalism & a felled X-mas tree

“The malignant effects of such ideologies are being intensely felt — as manifested in the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection,” he concludes. “The history of these groups goes quite a way back.”

How a tall X-mas tree was felled
FFRF Legal Attorney Chris Line tackles an entirely different subject in a lighter mode: a 140-foot-tall “Christ Tree,” hit by friendly fire, that has become the first “victim” this year in the so-called War on Christmas. Read on to find out more about the mishap — and the lessons we can learn from this episode.

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Serious or fun, the Supreme Court or local government — we approach whatever is on our menu with relish due to your generosity and support.

P.S. To view just-uploaded speeches and highlights from our recent Boston convention, please visit our YouTube channel.

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