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The Constitution, polling, schools and archbishops

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From the Constitution and the elections to public schools and archdioceses, we at the Freedom From Religion Foundation covered a lot of ground this week.

Thanks to FFRF members who’ve generously donated to FFRF’s advertising fund, we were able to place a full-page ad Thursday in The New York Times in honor of the 233rd anniversary of the adoption of our “godless U.S. Constitution.” “The United States was first among nations to adopt an entirely secular Constitution,” the ad reminded readers, “placing sovereignty not in a divinity, but in ‘We the People.’” View the ad, with its serene design, here. “Vote like your rights depend on it — because they do!” we wrote in conclusion.

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Our civic contribution
In a similar spirit, we’ve announced our own civic contribution to the electoral process by offering to pay our employees to serve as poll workers on Election Day. “Normally, the ranks of poll workers are largely filled by retired citizens, but since older Americans are among the most vulnerable in this pandemic, and younger folks are being called on to step in, we want to do our bit,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor.

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No school v(ouch)ers!
We condemned the Trump administration’s latest attempt to weaken public schools and send taxpayer money to private religious schools. Discrimination and religion remain the twin pillars of school choice to this day, we asserted, and forcing taxpayers to fund religious education is a violation of the religious freedom of every taxpayer.

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Respect science and reason in health care
We submitted written testimony to the Vermont Legislature in favor of H. 663, which would expand access to birth control in health insurance programs and in educational settings. As a secular nation, our laws governing health care, including reproductive health care, must reflect science and reason, our letter affirmed.

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Media is noticing our secular activism
Our call for an Ohio county to terminate an official chaplaincy is getting media coverage.

“Citing the separation of church and state, a national nonprofit has called for an end to the Licking County Prosecutor’s Office chaplain program,” reports a local newspaper. “According to a press release from the Freedom From Religion Foundation to the Newark Advocate, the nonprofit learned of the program after a concerned local resident contacted them to report a chaplain with the Licking County Prosecutor’s Office delivered a religious invocation at the 2019 Newark Division of Police Awards.”

The media also noticed FFRF’s complaint about politicking by a Catholic priest and bishop in a case involving a notorious video issued by a priest in La Crosse, Wis. Learn more about it and watch Annie Laurie’s TV interview on the subject.

We got rid of preachy official Facebook postings
And we actually brought to an end a Tennessee school district’s misuse of its official social media, where it absurdly called for everyone to “park and pray” at district schools. When a government entity like a public school urges citizens to pray, it endorses religion in violation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, we emphasized. The school district reacted well. “We have removed the post from our website,” the district superintendent recently responded.

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Show some social responsibility, archbishop!
JeromeListecki The Constitution, polling, schools and archbishopsWe denounced as irresponsible spiritual blackmail an order by the Milwaukee archbishop that parishioners need to return to in-person Mass or else, particularly in light of the fact that his archdiocese received between $2 million and $5 million in pandemic aid. The archbishop needs to engage in social responsibility instead of social intimidation, we concluded.

A double treat on our TV show
We have a double treat for you on our weekly TV show this Sunday. Two of the foremost specialists in the United States on Christian Nationalism, who have a new book out on the phenomenon, are the joint guests on “Freethought Matters” in an interview by FFRF’s own Christian Nationalist expert, Andrew Seidel, director of strategic response. You can already catch the show on our YouTube channel. Or find out where and when you can watch it.

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We appreciate your mobilization
We regularly mobilize you to contact Capitol Hill, and this week we contacted you a number of times. We requested you to take a moment to tell the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to oppose the nomination of Toby Crouse, Kansas’ theocratic solicitor general, for a federal judgeship for life. And we asked your help in getting the Senate to pass S. 775, the Scientific Integrity Act, which would shield government scientists and their work from political influence.

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An eponymous delight
Our “Ask An Atheist” Facebook Live feature this week is an eponymous special. We celebrated  “Ask an Atheist Day” by having the national organizing manager of the Secular Student Alliance, Ryan Bell, joining FFRF Attorney Liz Cavell  to talk about why “Ask An Atheist Day” started and how you can participate.

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A poetic farewell
We leave you with a mix of sad and happy news. The distinguished freethinking humanist poet, scholar and author Philip Appleman, whose poems we regularly publish in Freethought Today, died earlier this year at the age of 94. FFRF Co-Presidents Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor honor his life and legacy by playing his poignant interview on “Bill Moyers Journal.”

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Cheerful tidings!
Our regular blogger has cheerful tidings for us.

“Religion is fading more quickly in the United States than in any other nation, according to a forthcoming research book,” veteran freethinker and writer Jim Haught reveals, concluding, “Let’s hope the Secular Age continues snowballing until supernatural religion is reduced to just an embarrassing fringe.”

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We hope that this will happen soon, but till it does, we’re steadfastly defending our secular Constitution and freethought — with your warm backing and generous support.

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