After a couple of shorter weeks in the office due to our national convention and Thanksgiving, we at the Freedom From Religion Foundation have had a full, eventful week.
(It was great seeing in person those of you who attended our conference in Boston!)
Stick to the Constitution, people!
We started off the week by asking a seemingly clueless Montana state senator to stop her bigotry and insisting to a police department in Washington state that it end its chaplaincy program. Religion-inspired prejudice and police chaplaincies both go against the Constitution, we emphasized to these folks in the hope that they will pay heed to us.
A Florida victory
And people do pay heed to what we say. A blatantly unconstitutional display of religiosity has been removed from a public school in a prominent Florida school district due to our objection. “After reviewing the matters raised in your letter dated Nov. 5, 2021, SBBC [School Board of Broward County] immediately investigated the claims and took action to remove the religious displays from the classroom and instruct the subject personnel to immediately cease from displaying religious content in the classroom,” the school district’s legal counsel wrote to us. We’re always happy to educate school districts so that they do the right thing.
Listening to the Supreme Court blues
We carefully listened to the oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court in a crucial abortion rights case. We commended the pro-choice justices, who unfortunately seem to be in a minority, for making some very convincing points in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case that would prohibit abortions in Mississippi after the 15th week of gestation.
A supremely thankful note
The most impassioned of these justices was Sonia Sotomayor, and our Reproductive Rights Intern Barbara Alvarez, who shares her Puerto Rican heritage with Sotomayor, has penned a heartfelt thank you note to her. “Justice Sonia Sotomayor, you don’t know about me, but I know about you,” Barbara’s marvelously written piece starts. Read on here.
Barbara talked about her poignant letter on our radio show this week. Then, Freethought Radio co-hosts Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor chatted with Willie O. Cartwright about his new book, From Saved to Sane: My Journey Away from Christianity and Why Christianity Has Been Detrimental to the African American Community.
A learned discussion on the Supreme Court
On our “Ask an Atheist” Facebook Live feature this week, FFRF Staff Attorneys Liz Cavell and Patrick Elliott discussed their reactions to the Dobbs abortion case oral arguments. Watch the show for an erudite conversation.
What a shameful legal manuever!
A legal manuever in another currently prominent case caught our attention, since a more shameful move in the name of religion would be hard to find. Disgraced reality TV figure Josh Duggar in his child pornography trial is trying to exclude testimony from a witness on the grounds that Duggar confessed to multiple instances of child abuse in a religious confessional setting — subject to a special privilege under Arkansas law. This is a perfect example of why such a rule should not exist, we pointed out.
No state funding of religion, please
A recently passed state budget also caught our eye — for the wrong reasons. The new North Carolina budget includes grants or possible grants to several organizations that appear to offer only faith-based services, raising worries that taxpayer funds given to these groups will be used to advance religion in violation of the U.S. and North Carolina Constitutions. “Taxpayers are not responsible for funding pervasively sectarian organizations,” Annie Laurie remarked.
Putting up secular displays (with your help)
It was not all doom and gloom for us. There was a lot of positive energy we harnessed at the local level with your help. Our secular display is back in our hometown legislative building (the Wisconsin Capitol) for a breathtaking 25th time after a pandemic-forced hiatus last year. Our secular Winter Solstice exhibit is yet again ready for viewing in New Hampshire’s capital city (right next to a traditional nativity scene). And once more, with the able assistance of a member, we’ve created an equal space for secularism at an Illinois courthouse — garnering news coverage in the process.
Secularism in the Emerald Isle
We’ve delved into international matters this week, too. Our interviewee on our Sunday TV show is a person who is doing his utmost to move Ireland away from the shackles of Catholicism. “We’re now at a stage where what used to be a Catholic country is now effectively a pluralist country,” Michael Nugent, founder and chairperson of the advocacy group Atheist Ireland, explains the paradox of his native nation to Dan and Annie Laurie. You can already watch the show on YouTube. Or find out where you can catch the TV broadcast Sunday.
Seekers and finders
Veteran freethinker and blogger Jim Haught offers this week his elegant musings on being part of a philosophy group, founded by a doctor, consisting of seekers, not finders.
“The old physician knew that we’d never find ultimate answers,” his piece concludes. “But she knew that the search is rewarding anyway.”
Regardless of whether you yourself are a seeker or a finder, we appreciate your generosity and support that keeps us going on our mission.