Special Weekly Report: In the thick of things

By Amit Pal
Director of Communications
Freedom From Religion Foundation

We here at the Freedom From Religion Foundation are always in the thick of things. So when I came back last week from a journalists’ conference in Philadelphia, I was plunged right back into the middle.

Honors for secular activists

Nothing Fails Like Prayer

We delightedly announced the four winners of our “Nothing Fails Like Prayer” contest. The competition is set up to honor nontheistic activists who give secular invocations in front of local governmental bodies, in response to an unfortunate ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2014. All four awardees are receiving expense-paid trips to repeat their secular invocations at FFRF’s 39th annual national convention in Pittsburgh on the weekend of Oct. 7-9. Additionally, each recipient will receive a formal plaque and a $500 honorarium.

A number of victories

We also proudly notched up a number of victories. An Indiana public elementary school will stop prayer at its kindergarten graduation ceremonies due to us. “Why on earth were kindergartners being compelled to join in prayer?” asks our Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor.

And in Madison, Wis., our hometown, the local community college very amenably agreed to make sure that a sermonizing instructor would mend his ways. We got major news coverage, with the local daily paper, the Wisconsin State Journal, featuring our victory as the front-page lead story.



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Defend Planned Parenthood

Even with all this going on, we never took our eyes off the news, especially matters related to our mission. So, we pushed back against religiously motivated attacks on Planned Parenthood by asking our members to come to the group’s defense.

Keeping everyone constitutionally in line

At the same time, we kept up our regular work, contacting public entities around the country when they crossed the constitutional line. When a Kentucky county clerk hung up a Ten Commandments framed poster in his office, we asked him to take it down. Again, we garnered local media coverage.

And we were active at home base, too. We expressed our deep concern about a Catholic organization possibly being given charge of a public center for the homeless in Wisconsin’s capital. We asked our members to also voice their objections to the Dane County Board of Supervisors.

Our radio show is going strong

Our radio show is going strong every week, with interesting authors and freethinking news and tidbits. This week, we interview “faithless feminist” author Karen Garst, who has a new book out on women who have left faith behind. You can also listen to one of the winning invocations of our “Nothing Fails Like Prayer” contest.

And our convention is coming up

We’re getting all revved up for our annual convention in a few weeks in Pittsburgh. It’s going be a fascinating event, with a lineup of exciting speakers, including a Bangladeshi-American who was almost killed for her unbelief and a former pastor who will be coming out as an atheist.

Contests, victories, interventions, member action alerts, a radio show and a big convention—we’re always in the middle of so much. It keeps us on our toes—and it’s all made possible with support from our members and well-wishers.


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.

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