We’re engaged at every level
Here at the Freedom From Religion Foundation, we have to be regularly engaged at every level.
What’s wrong with being an atheist?
We keep a close watch on the national news, and so quickly responded to the weekend revelations that some DNC officials had tried to smear Bernie Sanders as an atheist. (Sanders hastened to say that he isn’t.) Our take was quite different from what you would find in the mainstream media. “Republicans may be more open about their religious bias, but these leaked private emails show that just beneath the surface, the Democrats share much of the same prejudice,” FFRF Legal Fellow Madeline Ziegler wrote in a blog.
Annie Laurie Gaylor was interviewed wonderfully in-depth on Madison’s community radio station on a range of national issues, from the conventions and the Religious Right to the rise of the “Nones” and, yes, why there’s nothing wrong with being an atheist.
Live religion-free, New Hampshire!
We also directed our gaze to the state level. First, we focused on a statehouse. We learned that a preacher had given a highly political anti-abortion sermon before the New Hampshire Assembly. We told the Assembly speaker that this underscores the real problem: the tradition of prayer in the legislative chamber.
A damning video
We then contacted the Texas Education Agency to alert them to multiple constitutional violations by a publicly funded charter school chain. We have video of the founder of the chain boasting about his mission: to bring God and bible back into the public schools. This guy needs to be taken to task.
Make the pause permanent!
A Tennessee county occupied our attention. Shelby County had been giving away land parcels for nominal sums to churches. When we advised county officials that this was unconstitutional, they listened and put a pause on such transfers. We urged them to make the moratorium permanent and asked our members to thank them.
No religious scholarships
A town in Ohio needs to follow Shelby County’s lead and heed our counsel. Grove City is providing scholarships for attending Ohio Christian University, which as the name makes obvious, is a religious institution. This violates both the U.S. and the Ohio Constitutions, we informed them. Let’s hope the city listens.
Another campus caught our attention—this time the wrongdoing being perpetrated by the university itself. A San Diego State University choir professor failed two students who refused to perform in a church. Unacceptable and disrespectful, we’ve conveyed to the university.
We ended constitutional courtroom outlaws
Then we focused on courts. After a good deal of cajoling, we got a Christian and cross display removed from a Georgia county courtroom. Reluctantly and after dilly-dallying, officials finally ceased playing the role of constitutional outlaws.
The judicial system provided another cause for celebration when a U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in favor of health care workers over their religious employer regarding unfair pension plans. We had filed an amicus brief in the case, and we rejoiced in the victory (even if we’d like the courts to go further).
So, there you have it folks. National, state, city, county, campus, and the courts. We’re contending at all these levels, with major successes—and all with your good wishes and support.
P.S. Check out our radio show this week, on which FFRF intern Chris Line talks about the outrageously misbehaving Texas charter school chain and Cambridge University Professor Tim Whitmarsh discusses his recent book about atheism in the ancient world.
And keep in mind the rededication of the Robert Ingersoll statue on his Aug. 11 birthday in Peoria, Ill. Come join the celebration, made possible with your help! The Peoria paper this weekend provided the project great coverage.