The judicial, legislative and executive branches — and, above all, you the people — we at the Freedom From Religion Foundation covered all the bases this week.
We urged the U.S. Supreme Court to abolish capital punishment. We argued in a friend-of-the court brief before the court (in a case that deals with religious access) that the death penalty is unjustified in a secular nation such as the United States, since it stems in part from biblical roots. “The United States’ use of punishment by death is a global embarrassment,”our brief states. Surveys show that our members overwhelmingly oppose the death penalty.
FFRF Legal Director Rebecca Markert and Staff Attorney Ryan Jayne discussed death penalty and religious liberty issues in earnest on our “Ask an Atheist” Facebook Live feature this week. Watch it here.
We reacted immediately when the Supreme Court continued an ominous trend in agreeing to take an appeal regarding a demand that a Christian flag be flown over Boston City Hall. FFRF had previously joined a friend-of-the-court brief supporting the city’s position and will be filing a brief with the Supreme Court. “The court’s action today is frankly shocking and alarming,” commented FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor.
As has been revealed by such decisions recently, federal courts need drastic reform. That’s why we submitted written testimony this week to the Senate Judiciary Committee asking it to expand and rebalance the federal judiciary. “Court reform, expansion and rebalance is the way to restore public confidence in the judiciary, and to preserve myriad hard-fought human and civil rights,” we stated.
Let’s all mobilize – and share our experiences
To preserve our hard-fought rights, FFRF is striving to reach out to you, the people. Please march on Saturday in defense of abortion rights, as FFRF Reproductive Rights Intern Barbara Alvarez is urging, and share your photos with us on social media.
“This Saturday, Oct. 2, hundreds of thousands of women are mobilizing and marching to defend reproductive rights in the United States,” she writes. “The main Rally for Abortion is in the District of Columbia, but there are 600-plus sister marches near you.”
Barbara keeps close tabs on popular movements. “As secular voters, we must take action to quell religiously rooted abortion restrictions — and Tuesday, Sept. 28, is an important day to do just that,” she wrote earlier in the week, concluding: “International Safe Abortion Day is the perfect day to call on our senators and demand that they protect abortion care.”
You are elected officials, not preachers!
We admonished a number of state-level executive branch folks. We told New York Gov. Kathy Hochul to stop treating her “bully pulpit” like an actual church pulpit and tone down her religious rhetoric over Covid-19 vaccinations. And we called on the North Carolina lieutenant governor to step down over his recent intemperate, bigoted, unpatriotic and un-American remarks offering to fund deportation costs for anyone who doesn’t believe America is a Christian nation. “You were elected lieutenant governor, not preacher,” we chided.
Pressing our home-area officials
We’ve been on our local authorities’ case. We thanked our home school district for requiring employees to be vaccinated, but warned that a religious exemption is counterproductive. And we once again requested our city and county officials to follow the science and require proof of fully vaccinated status to engage in indoor dining, bars, nightclubs, gyms, theaters and other such events, which demonstrably increases vaccination rates.
Trying to set authorities on the right constitutional path
We reached out to local-level officials far beyond our home territory. Halt a preacher’s proselytizing at a public high school, we urged a West Virginia school district. And the blatant misuse of police powers and lack of secularism must end at a California police department, we asserted to its chief, asking him to terminate the official chaplaincy.
Only dumb religion remains
Veteran freethinker and writer Jim Haught makes a startling yet defensible claim in his column this week: Only dumb religion remains in this country.
“Millions of words have been written to explain America’s rapid loss of religion,” he writes. “Here’s my guess about Episcopalians. In the past, they were the church for the smartest, most successful American Christians. But smart, successful Americans no longer need supernatural fairy tales about God impregnating virgins, drowning millions, raising the dead, killing first-born Egyptians, etc. That’s nonsense from medieval times. So these bright people turned secular.”
Writer & atheist Katha Pollitt interviewed on our TV show Sunday
One of the nation’s foremost writers, freethinkers and feminists addresses issues such as the religious roots of the war against abortion and the plight of Afghan women on our TV show Sunday. Katha Pollitt writes a National Magazine Award-winning column for The Nation and is the author of several books, including Atlantic Traveler (recipient of the National Book Critics Circle Award) and Learning to Drive (adapted into a movie with Patricia Clarkson and Ben Kingsley). Her latest book is the timely Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights. “Being against abortion is connected to anti-feminism, which all these patriarchal religions are against,” she tells “Freethought Matters” co-hosts Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor. You can already watch the show on our YouTube channel. Or find out where you can catch it on Sunday.
Taking a leap of doubt
Our featured interview this week on our radio show is with Cheryl Abram, author of the book Firing God, about how she took a “leap of doubt” to escape the oppressiveness of religion.
Isn’t it great that we have all made that leap? We hope to continue to grow our numbers in the years and decades to come — with your magnanimity and support.