By Amit Pal
Director of Communications
Freedom From Religion Foundation
It’s another week and another busy period for us here at the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
Unlike the weeks before, this week the lion’s share of our time and energy was not spent focusing on the Trump administration. Instead, we were active in a number of different directions.
A lot of local activity
So, we did what we’ve done in regular times: We kept an eye on local and state-level institutions for violations of state/church separation. We warned a South Carolina school district about a reading of an overtly Christian book to an entire elementary school. (We’ve put up some of the images from the book for you to look at.)
We’re having to refight another local-level battle, though. A Minnesota city is backtracking on its removal of a cross from a public veterans park. The Belle Plaine City Council seemingly caved in to immense local religious pressure and is permitting the cross to be put back up. We’ve told the city council members that if this is done, FFRF will propose for the park a memorial of its own: to atheists in foxholes. Reply awaited.
Another local-level legal battle seems to be going well for us so far. In a case where FFRF filed an amicus brief, a Florida judge says a prayer lawsuit against a high school athletic league should be tossed out.
Major media attention to our lawsuit
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Even better has been the national media attention given to our lawsuit against a West Virginia county for public school bible classes. “CBS This Morning” featured a segment on it. And Salon, a respected online publication, wrote a piece. Breaking news: The county has hired a theocratic outfit to represent it in court. Not a good idea, we’re telling them.
Stalling an anti-science bill
We’ve also kept an eye on state-level shenanigans. So, when the South Dakota Senate passed a creationist bill in disguise, we sent out an alert to our members in the state asking them to urge their reps to stall it.
Do not sail forth, Gov. Walker
We had real fun tweaking the nose of a governor — our own governor, actually. The guy in charge of Wisconsin is overeager to hand charge over for a week in August so that he can host a Christian cruise. The voyage will include “nightly inspirational messages” such as “faith in the public arena” and “faith-driven entrepreneurship,” according to his promo. The cruise (which Walker and his wife are getting for free) raises a host of questions — at the state/church separation level, as well as the ethical. We’re urging our first couple to stay ashore.
Our secular republic is at stake…
But, obviously, there’s a lot happening at the national level, and we’ve been on top of it. We’ve sent all our members an alert to thwart really dangerous congressional moves to dismantle the restrictions on church politicking (the Johnson Amendment). “The result would make the Citizens United fallout look like child’s play,” we warned. “Our secular republic would be at stake.”
…it really is
We applauded a congressional bill (a bit of good news!) that would end immigration discrimination against people of any religious belief — explicitly including those with no religious belief. We urged the Boy Scouts to drop their last discriminatory barrier: against nonbelievers. And FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor worried about the possibility of the nation’s top evangelist being put in charge of a college deregulation advisory group. “Falwell must be rubbing his hands in glee at the prospect of heading up a higher education deregulation task force,” she wrote. “That way, he’ll be able to make certain that his golden goose remains alive and well.”
Happy Valentine’s (and Darwin) Day!
Our radio show this week covered many of our activities and achievements this week, but we also featured lighter moments, such as Ricky Gervais’ appearance on Stephen Colbert’s show. And we looked ahead to Valentine’s (and Darwin) Day by including a rendition of a love song (“It’s Only Natural”), a jazz ballad with a nod to Darwin and Galileo, by our Co-President Dan Barker.
Happy Valentine’s (and Darwin) Day to all our members and supporters — who make all that we do possible!
FFRF is a national nonprofit dedicated to keeping state and church separate and educating about nontheism. For more information and a copy of our paper, Freethought Today, please click here.