Vaccines, abortion rights, the Supreme Court & the missionary Big Oil nexus

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has been concentrating on issues of critical importance this week.

What can be more important than getting people vaccinated to help end the pandemic? This is why FFRF Director of Strategic Response Andrew L. Seidel argued in a new column for Religion Dispatches that vaccine mandates are constitutional, and religious exemptions are unnecessary and harmful. Read it in its entirety here

We also condemned “pestilential” governors such as Greg Abbott and Ron DeSantis for their mulishness regarding vaccine and mask mandates. “Abbott, DeSantis, Doug Ducey and Kristi Noem are like the four horsemen of the apocalypse — if they were all Pestilence,” quipped FFRF Co-President Dan Barker, referring to the anti-science governors of Texas, Florida, Arizona and South Dakota, respectively. 

As part of our pro-vaccine efforts, on our radio show this week we issued a call-out in support of science and vaccine mandates. Then, Freethought Radio co-hosts Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor interviewed Debbie Allen, executive director of the Secular Coalition for America, which lobbies to keep state and church separate and represents FFRF and 19 other national groups.  (Watch for her appearance on our TV show soon.)

Abortion rights under siege by religious extremists

The other essential topic that we’ve been dealing with is the Religious Right-orchestrated siege on abortion rights. We denounced an appeals court move to reinstate Texas’ cruel abortion ban. Robust action is overdue to correct the courts and thus protect reproductive rights and other jeopardized liberties, we concluded. And along with 100-plus other organizations, we are calling for public officials and policymakers to end the unjust stigma associated with abortion. As the joint letter demonstrates, the freethought and reproductive rights movement are working together to protect abortion from unfair stigmatization. 

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Do-nothing Supreme Court commission findings

Much of the dire news on the abortion front is due to the stacked composition of the U.S. Supreme Court, and that’s why we were disheartened over the do-nothing (just-released) preliminary findings of President Biden’s commission tasked with looking at expansion of the court. It seems foregone that the final report to be issued in mid-November will be a wasted and missed opportunity to safeguard an independent judiciary — a debacle that will haunt our republic. 

Religion’s role in the French Catholic sex abuse scandal

We tackled other important subjects, too. Deference to religion is largely to blame for the recently revealed French Catholic Church sex abuse scandal, FFRF Staff Attorney Ryan Jayne stressed in a blog

“No one should give a dime to the Church, since that would be funding its obstructionism or paying its legal fees for fighting survivors or even enabling the hiding of money that survivors are entitled to, as Cardinal Timothy Dolan reportedly did as archbishop in Milwaukee,” he urged. “It’s time to quit the Catholic Church.” 

Celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day 

FFRF Reproductive Rights Intern Barbara Alvarez hailed this year’s historic presidential Indigenous Peoples’ Day proclamation. We republished on the occasion Barbara’s previous blog post about the need for Native American reproductive justice. 

Constitutional interventions and victories

Of course, we kept up our regular activities. Sever your partnership with a proselytizing ministry, we asked an Indiana school district. We strongly objected to a recent coach-organized baptism of football players at a Louisiana public high school. And we obtained a satisfying victory. A Michigan school district got rid of unconstitutional religious iconography, due to FFRF’s complaint. The superintendent met with staff and instructed them to remove “non-curricular religious displays from the classrooms and to discontinue any practices of promoting personal religious views during the school day,” an attorney for the school district informed us.  

The missionary-Big Oil nexus

This Sunday’s interview on our TV show is with the author of a poignant family spy memoir and a previous work on a Rockefeller-financed missionary invasion of the Amazon. Charlotte Dennett is a former reporter in the Middle East, an investigative journalist and an attorney. Her new book, The Crash of Flight 3084: A Lost Spy, A Daughter’s Quest, and the Deadly Politics of the Great Game for Oil (with a foreword by her famous philosopher brother), is about the mysterious death of her father, an American spy in the Middle East who was killed in an as yet unexplained plane crash in Ethiopia in 1947. Her previous books include Thy Will Be Done: The Conquest of the Amazon: Nelson Rockefeller and Evangelism in the Age of Oil, co-written with her husband, Gerard Colby. You can watch the show right now on our YouTube channel. Or find out where you can catch the broadcast Sunday.

Breaking the last taboo

Veteran freethinker and writer Jim Haught wonders in his column this week when the last taboo will be broken. “Our nation has one last taboo, one unmentionable topic: religious doubt,” concluding: “Soon, it may be completely acceptable to challenge the supernatural, as so many great figures have done. The tacit code of silence — the last taboo — may be near an end.” 

With your help and magnanimity, we are hastening that process.


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