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Superstitions, history and making our voices heard

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This week at the Freedom From Religion Foundation has been another busy one, with our voices being heard around the nation.

Making a statement in Florida
Speaking of our advocacy, we have received coverage from various news outlets in Florida after calling for the bible to be banned if other books with sex and violence are being removed. A Tampa Bay Times news roundup explained how we called out a school district in Florida following the removal of five books from its library shelves.

FFRF Staff Attorney Chris Line, who wrote a letter to the Florida school district, spoke in an exclusive interview with the Tallahassee Democrat, stating, “We don’t believe any books should be banned, including the bible…In cases like this where a school district appears to be using a footpath to discriminate, we demand that they apply that equally across the board to all books that have sexually explicit content, including the bible.”

Ariz. board member changes habits
After we contacted an Arizona school district in May, a board member has let us know that she will “refrain from reciting bible verses at this time.” Our request was sent after residents in the area complained about readings from the bible at every board meeting. Though the board member added that her attorneys will “handle this matter,” it’s safe to say that the bible readings have been halted for now.

Voicing concerns around the nation
We are strongly urging a school board in Colorado to reject the Christian nationalist “American Birthright” standards currently under consideration that would radically alter its social studies curriculum. Social studies standards that falsely teach that Christian history and Christian traditions are inherently American and/or that religion makes up the fabric of ethics and morality (under the guise of secular history and moral philosophy) blatantly promote Christianity and violate the rights of district students and parents.

In Oregon, we are asking a county board of commissioners to resume funding the Oregon State University Extension Service. The county voted in June to end tax funding for the extension service, including local 4-H programs, because of its “woke agenda.” The funding cut-off was retaliation after the extension service prohibited participants from promoting Christianity during its events because it is a government-funded organization and must remain religiously neutral.

Religion is but a myth
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Following the release of a recent poll by Gallup, we were delighted to see that increasing numbers of Americans would concur with the motto coined by FFRF’s principal founder Anne Nicol Gaylor:

There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.

Gallup found that belief in gods, devils, angels, heaven and hell are at all-time lows in our nation.

Mr. Grover goes to Little Rock
This week on FFRF’s “Ask an Atheist,” FFRF Legal Director Rebecca Markert and FFRF Attorney Sam Grover talk about why thou shalt not place Ten Commandments monuments on government property. Tune in to hear more about Sam Grover’s recent trip to Arkansas to argue FFRF’s latest case in front of a federal judge.

Conspiracies on Freethought Radio
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On the latest episode of Freethought Radio, FFRF litigation attorney Sam Grover talks about his trip to Little Rock to present oral arguments in FFRF’s federal lawsuit challenging the placement of a Ten Commandments monument at the Arkansas capitol. Then FFRF Co-Presidents Annie Laurie Gaylor and Dan Barker interview the well-known skeptic Michael Shermer about his newest book Conspiracy: Why the Rational Believe the Irrational.

A supreme mess
In episode 20 of the “We Dissent” podcast, FFRF attorneys Rebecca Markert and Liz Cavell discuss two opinions handed down by the Supreme Court at the end of June: Groff v. DeJoy and 303 Creative v. Elenis. Be sure to listen as they recap the case, summarize the rulings, and discuss implications of the decisions. Also provided in the show notes is a breakdown of the two cases with additional links in case you want to learn even more.

Religious school funding
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In a new blog, FFRF Legal Fellow Karen Heineman highlights examples of the inconvenient history behind the push for religious school funding in South Carolina and Oklahoma. She explains how the selective editing of history has been used to argue for public funding of discriminatory religious organizations.

Thomas Jefferson was a skeptic
In the second of a two-part series about two of our nation’s Founders, veteran writer and freethinker James Haught examines the life of Thomas Jefferson and his skepticism toward organized religion. Haught writes that “Popular history avoids mentioning that Thomas Jefferson was a skeptic who wrote many attacks on the clergy and was denounced as a ‘howling atheist’ and an ‘enemy of religion.’”

The latest on abortion rights
FFRF contributing writer Barbara Alvarez shares some good news and some bad news about abortion rights in her latest blog, stating that, “This summer has already seen a lot of major abortion developments. As secular activists, it is important that we stay abreast of what is going on with reproductive health care legislation.” The especially good news for FFRF’s home base in Wisconsin was a preliminary court decision against the state’s 1849 abortion ban.

FFRF Action Fund’s efforts
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It’s also been a busy week for the FFRF Action Fund, the advocacy arm of the Freedom Religion Foundation.

We commended the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday for approving the Supreme Court Ethics Recusal and Transparency Act (SCERT) by a vote of 11 to 10. All of the committee Democrats voted favorably for this urgently overdue measure. The FFRF Action Fund will continue to monitor the bill as it heads to the Senate floor.

Our lobbying team condemns the draft of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, which contains harmful theocratic measures — as well as a targeted attack on state/church separation. FFRF Action Fund President Annie Laurie Gaylor says that the amendment “violat[es] the First Amendment rights of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) and their members with the intention of encouraging the unconstitutional promotion of religion within the U.S. armed forces.”

FFRF Action Fund’s theocratic pick of the week was Rep. Matt Gaetz, for pandering to his Christian nationalist base and vowing to introduce a federal prayer-in-school bill, while heartfelt cheers go to “Secularist of the Week” Guam Gov. Lou Leon Guerrera for vetoing a bill to fund religious charter schools.

All of FFRF’s work, legal and educational, on behalf of freethought and the separation of church and state is made possible thanks to you and our other members.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

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