Director of Communications
Freedom From Religion Foundation
The week had gotten off to an ominous start with the announcement that the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal of a Mississippi statute that bans most abortions after 15 weeks. The case, Dobbs v. Jackson Health Organization, will be the first significant abortion case heard by the high court since extremist Amy Coney Barrett replaced Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The future of abortion rights in the United States hangs in the balance and our secular activism is needed more than ever, we noted.
An un-American N.D. decalogue law
Andrew was busily getting published this week. His succinct, punchy letter in the Grand Forks Herald castigated the North Dakota Legislature and governor for a recently passed law that attempts to impose the Ten Commandments on the state’s public schools. “A new North Dakota law is sneaking into public schools’ divine command that is, to be blunt, un-American,” it begins.
A historic White House meeting
Last Friday, the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships held a historic meeting with folks from secular groups, and our presence there got noted in this major Religion News Service story:
Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the FFRF, welcomed the first meeting with the new administration.
“With more than a quarter of the population identifying as a ‘None’ (no religion), it’s vital that our community, our voices be heard in favor of reason in social policy and upholding our secular government,” she said in a statement.
Gaylor, who attended the meeting with two other staffers of her organization [FFRF Co-President Dan Barker and Andrew], said FFRF also has listened to faith-based office calls in the current and past administrations. She also attended the State Department’s 2019 Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom.
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Our media offerings this week deal with a variety of subjects. On our “Ask an Atheist” Facebook Live feature, Andrew and FFRF Associate Counsel Elizabeth Cavell delved into one of our most common complaints here at the Freedom From Religion Foundation: legislative prayer. They were joined from Florida by two prominent freethought activists, Sarah Ray and David Williamson, who shared their stories about pushing back against sectarian prayer at government meetings.
A multifaceted personality is the guest on the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s “Freethought Matters” TV show this Sunday. Indra Zuno has appeared in movies and telenovelas, authored an award-winning debut book and hosts the Facebook page La Morena Esceptica — The Dark-Haired Skeptic. The granddaughter of the progressive atheist and artist Jose Guadalupe Zuno, who served as governor of the state of Jalisco, she grew up in Mexico but now lives in California. You can watch the show anytime on our YouTube channel. Or find out where you can catch it Sunday.
An FFRF-funded Secular Studies program
On our radio show this week, we first touched on the good news (secular groups meeting with the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships) and the bad (the Supreme Court abortion case). Then, Dan and Annie Laurie interviewed Pitzer College Professor Phil Zuckerman about the Secular Studies program (which has recently received a $300,000 endowment from FFRF!) at his institution and his LA Times article claiming: “There is no reason to fear a secular nation.”
Veteran freethinker and writer Jim Haught rightly asserts in his latest column that there’s no comparison between science and religion.“Presumably, science will continue transforming civilization in decades ahead, as it has in the past,” he concludes. “In contrast, does magical religion give anything positive to the world? It’s difficult to think of any benefit.”
The scourge of religious majoritarianism is not confined to the United States. I wrote a recent nationally distributed op-ed on how India’s Hindu nationalist government is primarily responsible for the apocalyptic pandemic wave currently slamming the country. Read more here of my dissection of the regime’s complacency and ineptitude.Wherever religious nationalism is present — domestically or internationally — we’ll combat it with your support and generosity.