Thomas Paine, a secular Easter, a Pulitzer-winning guest and a freethought university

We at the Freedom From Religion Foundation have seen the secular agenda pushed forward in a number of directions recently — with a bit of nudging from us.

A prominent scholar and historian has endorsed the construction of a statue of “Forgotten Founder” Thomas Paine that we’re fighting for in the nation’s capital — providing the project a huge spur. Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., introduced legislation in February (HR 6720) to authorize the building of a much-needed memorial to Paine. Now, Historical Society of Pennsylvania CEO David Brigham is enthusiastically backing the idea. “This endorsement will convince many minds about the necessity of the project,” says Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF co-president serving as the secretary of the Thomas Paine Memorial Association.

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A secular Easter message in the Windy City
We made our presence felt — yet again — in Chicago for Easter. On April 14, FFRF’s Metropolitan Chicago Chapter placed in Daley Plaza (the heart of downtown Chicago) colorful banners promoting the secular views of the Founders. A good part of the purpose was to counter a Catholic shrine, since the Thomas More Society engages in such shenanigans there every year.

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Getting prayer removed in our home county
We scored a secular victory in our home county: The Dane County Board of Supervisors officially voted to remove prayer from board agendas. Annie Laurie and FFRF Attorney Ryan Jayne testified before the Board’s Executive Committee last month when it considered whether to approve the measure for a full vote of the Board. FFRF thanks the commitment and leadership of Supervisor Heidi Wegleitner in making this happen, as well as Dane County FFRF members who contacted the board to support Wegleitner’s measure.

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Wegleitner joined Annie Laurie and Ryan on FFRF’s “Ask an Atheist” Facebook Live to talk about her proposal — and the threats and hate mail she received after Fox News did an unhelpful segment about her resolution.

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No faith-healing evangelicals in public schools!
Stop faith-healing evangelicals coming into your schools, we urged a Texas school district. It is inappropriate and unconstitutional for the school district to offer church leaders unique access to preach and proselytize students during school hours on school property, we emphasized.

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Some good news on abortion rights
The religion-based recent nationwide attack on abortion rights has caused us alarm, but we had good news to report for a change this week: The Connecticut Legislature passed a pair of bills that will protect and expand abortion care. We praised the governor for his pro-woman sentiments when he affirmed he would sign the bill — and reiterated how worried we are about the national onslaught.



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FFRF Contributing Writer Barbara Alvarez advises that we can bolster abortion access by taking inspiration from countries such as Spain. Read here about the positive measures Spain has taken recently — and what we can learn from that.

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A mixed-up judiciary
The U.S. judicial system provided us mixed rulings this week: We hailed a recent Supreme Court ruling and castigated a President Trump-appointed judge’s action — both related to the pandemic. We live in complicated times.

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Religious holidays without religion
Veteran writer and freethinker Jim Haught urges in his column this week for us secular-minded folks to celebrate religious observances — without the religion, of course.

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“Across America the past weekend, many communities hosted festive children’s Easter egg hunts with all sorts of games, treats, bunnies and hoopla,” he begins. “It was wholesome family fun. But one aspect was generally absent: any mention of supernatural gods rising from the dead.”

A Pulitzer-winning guest on our TV show
Our TV and radio shows this week are both inspirational — in different ways. A Pulitzer Prize-winning exponent of science and freethought is the guest on our “Freethought Matters” TV show this Sunday. Natalie Angier came to our attention when she wrote an article, “Confessions of a Lonely Atheist,” that appeared in the New York Times Magazine on Jan. 14, 2001, in which she outed herself as an atheist when that was rare (which is why we gave her our Emperor Has No Clothes award in 2004). You can already watch the interview on our YouTube channel. Or find out where you can catch it this Sunday.

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A flourishing freethought university!
On our radio show this week, NASA scientist Clement Hiel talked to Freethought Radio co-hosts Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor about his alma mater, the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Free University of Brussels), which was founded as a direct challenge to the Catholic Church.

Thomas Paine, a secular Easter, a Pulitzer-winning guest and a freethought university
A flourishing freethought university with tens of thousands of students! In this country, we may not be quite there yet but with your help, we’re, hopefully, progressing on that path.

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