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Supreme Court brief, media coverage, religious right governors and clergy abuse activists

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We at the Freedom From Religion Foundation were kept really busy this week — no two ways about that.

We filed a brief before the U.S. Supreme Court asking it not to grant employees religious privileges that harm co-workers, customers and other parties.

“Religious employees do not have the legal right to dictate that an employer must impose disruptive conditions on co-workers,” states the brief in a case involving a religious postal worker hired to fill-in off-hours, but who refused to work on Sundays. “It is improper under Title VII for religious employees to claim a right to interfere with the lives and working conditions of their co-workers because they claim to have religious obligations.”

We are asking the Supreme Court to affirm the court of appeals’ judgment in favor of the U.S. Postal Service — and we’re trusting that the court will pay attention to our perspective.

Media covers our expose of church electioneering
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We made a timely intervention against a church’s electioneering in our home state involving the nationally watched state Supreme Court race next week — and it has received media attention.

“With election day next Tuesday, one organization says a Cottage Grove church is stepping out of line in asking its congregants to not vote for Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate Janet Protasiewicz,” a Madison TV station reports. “‘We have laws in this country, and churches are not above the law,’ Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom from Religion Foundation, said.”

Press release is published verbatim on news site
Some of our past press releases continue to have traction. The newspaper in Pampa, Texas, (where I spent a portion of my childhood) in fact has pretty much published verbatim on its website our release objecting to a cancellation of a drag show at West Texas A&M University.

We’re taking on religious right governors
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Religious right governors are doing damage around the country — and we’re calling them out.

We’re dismayed that Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear has signed into law a mischief-making bill encouraging teachers to promote their personal religious beliefs. FFRF receives numerous complaints from public school students whose teachers or coaches abuse their position and it stands ready to defend students, including in court if necessary.

We’re spotlighting a public charter school’s bizarre decision to force a principal to resign after an image of Michelangelo’s “David” was shown in art class, which is undoubtedly due to its ties with a Christian evangelical entity. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is encouraging this religious takeover of Florida’s education system.

And we’re challenging Greg Abbott with a full-page ad in the Austin American-Statesman on Sunday under this headline: “Yes, Governor Abbott — You’re Right. Our schools are for education, not indoctrination.” There the agreement ends. Read here for what the ad says further. This is the second in a series of such FFRF advertisements calling out Christian nationalist public officials.

Texas deserves to be messed with, and Val Benavidez, executive director of the Texas Freedom Network, tells Freethought Radio co-hosts Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor on our show this week how her group is doing that by fighting religious extremism in the Lone Star State.

Two interesting recent surveys
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Two recently released surveys caught our eye. A new Pew study shows acceptance of atheists is low but gradually increasing. And a PRRI poll has reassuring findings that Americans of almost all religions and no religion are growing ever more supportive of LGBTQ rights. “These findings are extremely eye-opening in combating those religiously motivated state legislators, governors and members of Congress who are eager to take us back to the bad old days of closets and rampant homophobia,” says Annie Laurie.

Our activism on trans issues — and why
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We are taking a stand against trans fearmongering in wake of the Nashville killings. The anti-trans rhetoric surrounding the incident serves as a distraction from the common denominator in any mass shooting: the egregious lack of gun safety laws in this country. “Fully 94 percent of FFRF’s members support common sense gun safety restrictions,” Annie Laurie points out.

On this week’s episode of FFRF’s “Ask an Atheist” Facebook Live feature, FFRF Associate Counsel Liz Cavell and FFRF Legal Fellow Kat Grant talk about some of the latest in religiously based anti-trans hysteria: from a new research study to events that took place at a lawChristian school in Vermont. Watch the scintillating discussion here.

You may be wondering why we’ve included coverage of transgender controversies. Kat has the answer for you in a blog titled “Transgender rights are a state/church issue.”

FFRF Action Fund news
News from the newly created independent lobbying arm:  It will name a “theocrat” and “secularist” of the week at its website. This week’s “Secularist of the Week” is U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin in honor of his opposition to what he called the “phony” Parents Bill of Rights Act, which he said is designed to ban books and suppress history. The “Theocrat of the Week” is Ugandan autocrat Yoweri Museveni, a born-again Christian who has pushed a draconian anti-gay law in his country, which is the product of U.S. Christian nationalist and evangelical groups that have poured more than $50 million into that nation.

Clergy abuse activists on FFRF TV show Sunday
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The guests on the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s Sunday “Freethought Matters” TV show have dedicated their lives to helping survivors of clergy child abuse obtain justice. Peter Isley, an advocate against priest abuse and a survivor of childhood sexual assault by a Wisconsin priest, is a founding member of SNAP: Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. Sarah Pearson, the deputy director of Nate’s Mission, is likewise a survivor of abuse and a recent grad of Harvard Divinity School. Isley relates how his abuse started at a Catholic boarding school when he was 13, how he confronted the church about the crime in his late 20s and then co-founded SNAP in 1989. If you don’t live in the quarter-plus viewership of the nation where the show broadcasts on Sunday, you can already catch the interview on FFRF’s YouTube channel. And if you desire to watch the Sunday broadcast, find out where and how.

The perverseness of using the bible for Women’s History Month
Bible verses for Women’s History Month add insult to injury, Annie Laurie contends in a blog this week. The Jackson Police Department in Tennessee has perversely celebrated Women’s History Month by asking female police officers to share their “favorite bible verse.” Those female police officers owe everything, including their educational and employment rights, not to Jesus but to the largely irreligious founders of the women’s movement who rebelled against the very bible they were asked to quote from.

How to improve the dire straits of abortion rights
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FFRF Contributing Writer Barbara Alvarez laments the awfulness of news on the abortion front — and tells us what we can do about it.

“Every week, I am more and more appalled by anti-abortion legislation and actions. But rather than being paralyzed by the onslaught, I am motivated to bring about positive change where I can,” she begins her blog. “I hope you are, too.”

The changing nature of Christianity
Veteran freethinker and writer Jim Haught comments in his blog on the changing nature of Christianity globally. “Christianity is ceasing to be a white Northern religion and is becoming mostly a faith for people of color in the Global South,” he begins.

Christianity (and religion in general) may be changing, but the challenge to secular values is a constant. With your help, we defend these values to the best of our ability — and that’s what keeps us busy week after week.

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