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Weekly Wrap: A lawsuit, successful activism, constitutional victories and media coverage

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We hit the ground running this week at the Freedom From Religion Foundation and rarely took a pause afterward.

On Monday, we filed a lawsuit in Oklahoma state court challenging the nation’s first religious public charter school as part of a coalition of groups representing nine Oklahoma residents and a pro-public school nonprofit. Joining us in the coalition are Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Education Law Center. The suit is receiving coverage everywhere from the New York Times and the Washington Post to USA Today and Politico. Wow! FFRF Senior Counsel Attorney Patrick Elliot did FFRF proud at a press conference Monday and a webinar on Wednesday (link not yet available).

Ban the bible (or reshelve banned books)!
We ensured (with the help of a local activist) that three books removed from a Colorado school system’s libraries at the request of a conservative group will be back on the shelves after we demanded that the district either reshelve these books or ban the bible. The Colorado Springs Gazette provided our successful activism in-depth coverage, including extensive quotes from FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor and FFRF Attorney Chris Line. Read the story here.

No Christian proclamation allowed
The Sacramento Bee gave prominent play to our chastising of a California county board for adopting an un-American resolution designating July as “American Christian History Month.” (A local TV station covered it, too.)

“The Freedom From Religion Foundation, an advocacy nonprofit for atheists, agnostics, and nontheists that supports the separation of church and state, wrote to the Board of Supervisors on July 28, calling the proclamation ‘problematic’ and ‘a clear breach of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution,’” the Bee reported. “The FFRF said they received multiple complaints from community members about the issue.”

Our anti-voucher op-ed in an Ohio paper
Ryan Jayne Weekly Wrap: A lawsuit, successful activism, constitutional victories and media coverage

Ryan D. Jayne, FFRF Action Fund’s senior policy counsel, wrote an op-ed for a leading Ohio newspaper cogently explaining why the state should be ending its voucher schemes. You can read the full article online here .

Two victories on behalf of state and church
We obtained two other victories on behalf of the Constitution this week. Due to our efforts, Burnet Consolidated ISD in Texas will no longer promote a prayer marathon event before the start of the fall semester. And a Michigan school district has deleted Christian prayer from its senior award ceremony after we conveyed the objection of parents to officials. We’re pleased at the responsiveness of these school officials.

Announcing our Lorraine Hansberry Humanist awardees
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We proudly announced this week, in association with the Women’s Leadership Project, the 2023 Lorraine Hansberry Humanist Scholarship awardees. Graduating high school seniors received $1,000 and continuing college students received $500.

“It’s an honor for us to memorialize an incredibly gifted playwright who also happened to be a freethinker through these scholarships,” says Annie Laurie. “Lorraine Hansberry’s legacy deserves to be furthered in every new generation.”

FFRF Action Fund welcomes Trump’s indictment related to Jan. 6
Our lobbying arm, the FFRF Action Fund, was also constantly on its toes. It hailed the prosecution of Donald Trump for Jan. 6-related crimes. “Trump played to his Christian nationalist base in seeking to undemocratically overthrow the will of the people — and continues to do so,” Annie Laurie, FFRF Action Fund president, reminded folks. The statement cites FFRF’s still-timely Jan. 6 joint report with the Joint Baptist Committee documenting the white Christian nationalist roots of the insurrection.

Our ‘secularist’ and ‘theocrat’ of the week
Theosec of the Week Browde Gosar Weekly Wrap: A lawsuit, successful activism, constitutional victories and media coverage
The Action Fund gave a Bronx cheer to Rep. Paul Gosar, its “Theocrat of the Week,” while figuratively handing a bouquet to TikToker and transgender activist Kristen Browde as its “Secularist of the Week.” Gosar is getting called out by the FFRF Action Fund for insisting “God” and “faith” belong in our federal drug control strategy. Browde is a former correspondent for “CBS News” who has attracted over 380,000 TikTok followers by defending the LGBTQ-plus community against religious persecution.

We urged our home county not to use Catholic health care
The Action Fund also urged its home county not to renew contracts with a Catholic health care entity in light of its recent decision to halt gender-affirming care due to a statement by the U.S Bishops. Given the quality of secular health care options in the area, there is no need for the county to subsidize any religious organization, the Action Fund contended.

Branson-style ordinances are a distraction
FFRF Action Fund State Policy Manager Ryan Dudley penned a vividly written blog about the famous Missouri tourist town in which he contended that anti-drag ordinances of the type the city recently passed are distractions from real issues facing such communities.

“It’s time Branson officials put an end to this ridiculous crusade and get to work to enact  meaningful policy solutions that benefit all residents of the city,” he concluded. “That is how a secular, reason-based government should operate.”

Assessing the recent Supreme Court term
FFRF Legal Director Rebecca Markert assesses the most recent Supreme Court term and, not surprisingly, has a negative appraisal.

“We know Christian nationalist legal groups are teeing up cases around the country to further divide Americans on religious grounds,” she concludes her blog. “FFRF’s voice in this fight is more important than ever — and our team stands ready.”

Why do so many Americans believe in angels?
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Annie Laurie has written a blog this week on a vastly different issue: the embarrassing number of Americans (almost 70 percent!) who believe in angels.

“Angels won’t come to rescue us,” she writes. “It’s up to us — and with climate change, pandemics and domestic and global political instabilities — we better start becoming our own ‘guardian angels.’”

Anti-abortion clinics are dangerous
FFRF Contributing Writer Barbara Alvarez has a timely column cheering Illinois for becoming the fourth state to expressly prohibit deception and fraud from anti-abortion clinics (often termed crisis pregnancy centers). She explains in her piece why this is an intensely secular issue.

The secret world of kid life
FFRF columnist Jim Haught died recently, but left some pieces for us to use. The one we have run this week is a nostalgic change-of-pace column on childhood and parenting. It delves into the “secret world of kid life.”

The history of humanism
John Wathey






The feature interview on Freethought Radio this week deals with the fascinating history of humanism. After a lot of lively news, commentary and music, co-hosts Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor interview British author Sarah Bakewell about her new book Humanly Possible: Seven Hundred Years of Humanist Freethinking, Inquiry, and Hope.

Humanism indeed has a rich history and, with your help, we are working hard every day to further its cause.

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