The elections, the judiciary, young freethinkers and a multimedia artist

Like a lot of folks, we at the Freedom From Religion Foundation spent the week waiting with bated breath for the results of the presidential elections — while advancing our cause.

“We believe that every vote by ‘We the People,’ no matter who for, must be counted,” we sent out a statement the morning after Election Day. “To do otherwise is to deny the Constitution we defend.”

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The Christian Nationalist capture of the judiciary
But we didn’t let the voting count limbo paralyze us into inaction — far from it. For instance, we’ve been working hard on a report exposing the growing imbalance, Christian Nationalism and religious favoritism of the federal judiciary, and we sent out a teaser at the start of the week.

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“The Religious Right has been packing the federal bench with judges willing to radically redefine religious liberty,” said FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “We hope this report will alert everyone about this phenomenon and demonstrates how necessary it is to reform and rebalance the federal bench.”

Keeping tabs on the Supreme Court
The U.S. Supreme Court exhibited worrisome signs during oral arguments in a major case that we’ve filed an amicus brief in — and we were keeping tabs. In Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, which involves a discriminatory Catholic group, the conservative 6-3 majority on the Supreme Court indicated that it may upend the city’s nondiscrimination rules in favor of religion. “There seems to be an inherent belief by those defending discrimination against same-sex couples that it is somehow a lesser and permissible form of discrimination,” remarked FFRF Senior Counsel Patrick Elliott.

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A dismaying global declaration
We always maintain a watchful eye on global occurrences affecting secular issues, and when the Trump administration dismayingly co-sponsored a U.N. anti-abortion declaration, we issued a strong denunciation. As a secular nation, the United States should safeguard abortion from unscientific restrictions, we emphasized. Instead, it has appallingly chosen to give its backing to an extremely dubious document.

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A bunch of scholarships for young freethinkers
We delightedly unveiled the names of not one but two scholarship recipients. We announced the first Yip Harburg Youth Activist Award winners, who will each receive $1,000. This scholarship is made possible by the generous Yip Harburg Lyric Foundation and FFRF member Ernie Harburg, the son of the famous lyricist of “Over the Rainbow.” FFRF is providing the scholarship funds, and the Secular Student Alliance has done the legwork and vetting.

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“We are so proud to be able to support young freethinking artists with these scholarships,” says Annie Laurie. “It is a wonderful way to carry on Yip’s legacy.”

And we happily disclosed three $1,000 scholarships to nonreligious students attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities. “We’re delighted to be helping these worthy young freethinkers and HBCU students and are grateful to be partnering with the Secular Student Alliance,” Annie Laurie remarks.

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Shining a light on little-known freethinking suffragist
During this election week, we had on as our main radio guest the author of a recent biography of a lamentably little-known freethinker pivotal in expanding the vote. FFRF Co-Presidents Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor talk with historian Kimberly A. Hamlin about her book that focuses on a woman Robert Ingersoll dubbed “Heathen Helen” who was perhaps most responsible for ushering in the 19th Amendment giving “power to women voters”: Free Thinker: Sex, Suffrage, and the Extraordinary Life of Helen Hamilton Gardener. 

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A multimedia artist/atheist on our Sunday TV show
In the midst of this unsettling political time, our television show this Sunday will provide a calming respite with a look at the remarkable work of world-renowned painter, secular documentarian and novelist Scott Burdick. Those who love art, cinema and books and our secular Constitution will find much to savor in this interview. You can already catch the show on our YouTube channel. Or find out where you can watch it this Sunday.

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How socially coerced religion came to an end
Our weekly blogger details in his new column some of the landmarks that got us rid of socially coerced religion.

“Freedom of religion means that nobody — neither the government nor the surrounding culture — can tell you what to believe,” writes veteran blogger and freethinker Jim Haught. “All people are free to reach their own conclusions about faith. Let’s ponder a few of the many battles that won this precious right.”

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We’ll be explaining the elections to Indian rationalists on Saturday
Of course, we’ve been following the elections very closely. In fact, we’re helping explain them to folks in India this weekend. In a Facebook Live webinar organized by MANS, the recipient last year of FFRF’s Avijit Roy Courage Award, Dan, Annie Laurie and yours truly will be chatting with their members and other rationalists in the world’s largest secular democracy on Saturday, Nov. 7, starting at 9:30 a.m. Central. Do tune in!

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