The Texas abortion ban, the Supreme Court, the Catholic Church & Joel Osteen

We at Freedom From Religion Foundation pride ourselves on our rapid response to breaking events — and this week the emphasis was on rapid.

We immediately cheered when news broke that Texas’ draconian six-week abortion ban has been temporarily halted by a federal judge. “Judge Robert Pitman commendably took the action that was the Supreme Court’s duty,” FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor remarked. And we quickly applauded the end of a Trump-era ban on abortion referrals that had prevented major reproductive health groups from receiving federal funds for family planning.

We also issued a statement shortly after the start of the Supreme Court’s term, highlighting its plummeting public approval after its failure to block the clearly unconstitutional Texas ban. “Can our nation truly have an independent judiciary if the judicial nomination process has been politicized to this extreme degree? ” Annie Laurie asked.

FFRF Anne Nicol Gaylor Reproductive Rights Intern Barbara Alvarez, who has really been on top of the issue, penned a blog on how the alarming slew of anti-abortion legislation nationwide shows the urgent need for Congress to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act.  “Call your senators to tell them to work to pass this important piece of abortion legislation so that these hundreds of restrictions are nullified,” she urged.

Barbara was on our Freethought Radio show this week to chat with co-hosts Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor about the state of abortion rights. So was FFRF Legal Director Rebecca Markert, who discussed an ominous development at the U.S. Supreme Court, which is taking a case by Christians trying to force Boston to fly a Christian flag over City Hall. Rebecca, by the way, this week completed 13 years with FFRF. She started back in 2008 as our first attorney and now oversees a staff of 12 attorneys and legal assistants, plus interns.

Pre-empting religious mischief
Our reaction mode was so on the ball this week that we pre-empted potential religious mischief by asking a Florida county ahead of time to be respectful when David Williamson, director of the Central Florida Freethought Community (Our Sunshine State chapter), delivered a secular invocation at a county commissioner meeting. The board seems to have actually listened to our admonishment, since unlike on a previous occasion, it didn’t follow up with a Christian prayer.

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French Catholic Church horror
We quickly responded to a French report that the Roman Catholic Church, astoundingly, has abused more than 300,000 French children since 1950. Once again, we urged the U.S. Justice Department to initiate a similar, long-overdue investigation.

Billboards and bible days
We engaged in a couple of scheduled initiatives this week. We put up side-by-side billboards in Houston targeting megapreacher Joel Osteen with a “Sleep in on Sunday” message. And we denounced Bring Your Bible to School Day as a dubious Focus on the Family-planned annual gimmick. “This campaign is a sneaky way for this ministry to try to turn students into tools who evangelize peers,” FFRF Co-President Dan Barker, a former evangelical minister, remarked.

Getting media attention and victories
Our rapid mode got some media attention.

“A Wisconsin-based group called the Freedom from Religion Foundation is crying foul, after the Broken Arrow High School football team appeared to hold a baptism for several team members and a coach after a recent practice on school grounds,” a Tulsa radio station reported. “It’s not clear how the group even found out about it.”

Our quick interventions on behalf of the Constitution yielded fruit. An Ohio public high school football coach stopped praying with players after we objected. And we’re hoping to obtain a constitutionally positive outcome in a North Carolina school district by getting it to end its blatantly discriminatory Christian school board prayer.

Vaccine mandates & rapid testing are the answer
We emphasized that the way to conquer Covid-19 is through vaccine mandates, in combination with rapid testing. It is the duty of U.S. public officials and leaders to do everything within their power to hasten herd immunity through mandates and rapid testing — and with no religious exemptions, we stressed.

The rise of the “Nones”
On our media offerings this week, we have taken the long view. Our “Freethought Matters” show this Sunday talks about the spectacular rise of the “Nones” — those of us with no religious affiliation. “I’m always interested in when things changed, like when things flipped from being more religious to less religious and what generation got caught up in that,” Professor and demographic expert Ryan Burge tells “Freethought Matters” co-hosts Dan and Annie Laurie.  You can already watch the show on our YouTube channel. Or find out where you can catch it Sunday.

Our “Ask an Atheist” Facebook Live feature discusses the power of traditions and how to reclaim the corrupted versions of these traditions. Filmmaker and author Sasha Sagan joins FFRF’s Director of Strategic Response Andrew Seidel to discuss this fascinating topic.

Nine decades of secular progress in his lifetime
Veteran freethinker and writer Jim Haught provides a sweeping overview of history in his most recent column. “Few people realize it, but secular humanism — the progressive crusade to improve life for all — may be the chief driving force of Western civilization,” he begins and concludes: “Let’s keep striving for more advances.”

That we certainly will, both immediately and over the long term  — with your constant encouragement and backing.

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