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Weekly Wrap: Ala. governor, Minneapolis paper, Okla. media and Christian outlets — all noticed our work

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unnamed 3 Weekly Wrap: Ala. governor, Minneapolis paper, Okla. media and Christian outlets — all noticed our work

The notice FFRF’s work to defend our secular Constitution received this week took us aback a bit.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (no kidding!) found a couple of our recent complaints about unconstitutional activities in her state so irresistible that she felt compelled to officially respond in writing. She took umbrage at our communiqués to Auburn University and Snead State Community College  about a baptism and religious coercion at these institutions, respectively.

“You took an oath of office to ‘support, obey, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution of the State of Alabama,’ not to promote ‘worship,’ to disseminate your personal religious beliefs through your office or to otherwise evangelize,” our response to her misguided missive concluded. “Please uphold that oath.”

Our objection to the Auburn baptism made it to Alabama’s main news portal.

“Auburn University was heavily criticized for the Unite Auburn event held on Sept. 12, which featured head football coach Hugh Freeze and other prominent Auburn figures baptizing students, by the Freedom From Religion Foundation,” said a story at “The Freedom From Religion Foundation deemed the event as ‘unconstitutional.’”

On our Facebook Live feature “Ask an Atheist,” FFRF Co-President Dan Barker, Staff Attorney Chris Line and Senior Litigation Counsel Patrick Elliot discussed the Auburn event — and FFRF’s ongoing efforts to combat religious coercion in college sports.

Coincidentally, we also issued a statement this week about the ex-Auburn coach who as the current senior senator from Alabama has held up hundreds of military nominations to protest Pentagon policy ensuring reproductive rights. It was as Auburn’s overly prayerful football coach that Sen. Tommy Tuberville first came to the attention of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. “Clearly, Tuberville shows the dangers of Christian nationalists run amok in our government,” said FFRF Co-President Dan Barker.

Minneapolis paper covers our victory
Our success in getting a high school graduation transferred out of a church grabbed the attention of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

“Eastern Carver County Schools will no longer host graduations at a nearby megachurch after lawyers advising the district said it faced ‘considerable risk of litigation’ if it kept holding commencement ceremonies there,” the paper reports. “In a June 14 letter to Superintendent Lisa Sayles-Adams, the Freedom from Religion Foundation urged the district to find a new venue for graduation. ‘We write to request that the district cease holding its graduation ceremonies at Grace Church and instead select a secular facility in order to respect the diversity and constitutional rights of its students and their families,’ Samantha Lawrence, a foundation legal fellow, wrote.”

Our Oklahoma win garners media play
A constitutional victory of ours in Oklahoma has gotten a lot of media play in the state.

“The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) is celebrating a win in Oklahoma,” reports the local FOX affiliate. “The educational nonprofit said it was successful in removing bible quotes from a classroom in Skiatook.”

“The Freedom From Religion Foundation recently reported that Skiatook Public Schools has removed Christian displays from several classrooms after the state/church watchdog alerted officials to the constitutional violations,” says an ABC TV station. “‘The district violates the Constitution when it allows schools to display religious symbols or messages,’ FFRF Staff Attorney Chris Line wrote to Superintendent Missy Bush.”

Sacramento paper recognizes our efforts
The Sacramento Bee recognized how we were able to persuade a California county into revoking an egregious proclamation.

“The El Dorado County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on Tuesday to rescind its controversial American Christian Heritage Month designation for the month of July,” the paper reports. “The Freedom from Religion Foundation, a legal advocacy nonprofit that supports the separation of church and state, sent a letter to board members to tell them they’d received multiple complaints about the designation, and explain why it ought to be rescinded. Board members never responded to the Freedom from Religion Foundation letter, Staff Attorney Chris Line told The Sacramento Bee on Monday, but that Hidahl’s recommended walkback of the proclamation is ‘the best case scenario.’”

Christian media outlets also note our victories
Even Christian media outlets are paying heed to our victories.

“A Connecticut school board has reportedly axed prayers before board meetings following a complaint from a ‘concerned community member’ and an atheist organization,” says a story in Faithwire. “The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), an atheist activist group, contacted the Enfield School District to complain about the prayers purportedly routinely unfolding before meetings, CT Insider reported.’”

Christian nationalist governors dismay us
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We’re appalled to see anti-science Christian nationalist governors, such as Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Ron DeSantis, once again endanger the nation’s health. The anti-vaxxer, anti-science crowd seemingly will never rest in its denialism and resistance to rational public health policy.

Denouncing religious right lawmakers
Our lobbying arm has had its hands full this week critiquing the religious right — and politicians pandering to them.

The FFRF Action Fund condemned the virulent Christian nationalist agenda of the National Association of Christian Lawmakers, which met last week in Virginia. As a voice for the rapidly growing population of “Nones” who are atheists, agnostics or nothing in particular (now at 29 percent), the Fund will continue to expose and fight the Christian nationalist agenda of the Christian nationalist group.

A frightening theocratic presidential roadmap
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The Fund also sounded the alarm on a massive, well-funded theocratic effort to influence a future U.S. presidential administration. The right-wing collaboration, called “Project 2025.” recently published a 920-page “Mandate for Leadership” that instructs on how to implement an agenda of autocracy in the first 180 days of a presidency. For the sake of preserving true religious liberty, and resisting a slide into theocratic autocracy, we must not allow those behind this egregiously un-American wish list anywhere near the levers of power.

Two scary Christian gatherings
Christian nationalist pandering was the order of the day at two very scary political gatherings last weekend featuring Republican presidential candidates eager to please their base. As the country moves into the federal election season over the next year, the FFRF Action Fund will continue to monitor radical religious candidates who promise Christian nationalist policies.

Sunday TV show delves into power of Catholic Church
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The guest on our Sunday TV show delves into the immense power of American Catholic bishops — and the sources of that power. Mary Jo McConahay has been a Central American war correspondent whose newest book, Playing God: American Catholic Bishops and the Far Right, documents how U.S. bishops are using dark money and aligning with ultra-right evangelicals to make America a Christian nation. You can already watch the show on our YouTube channel. Or find out where to catch it on television Sunday.

Radio guest dissects white Christian supremacy
For the main feature interview on Freethought Radio, co-hosts Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor interviewed Robert P. Jones, president and founder of the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), about his powerful new book, The Hidden Roots of White Supremacy: And the Path to a Shared American Future. He posits that the Catholic “Doctrine of Discovery” of 1493 blessed the genocide of Indigeous tribes and enabled chattel slavery. Listen to it here.

Why telehealth abortion services are crucial
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FFRF contributing writer Barbara Alvarez demonstrates in her most recent column as to why telehealth abortion services are crucial even as she welcomes the return of abortion services to FFRF’s home state of Wisconsin. “While I’m cheering that Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin has resumed abortion services at two clinics, I also want to remind us that this is not a panacea,” she writes.

Freud deemed religion a childish illusion
FFRF columnist Jim Haught, who died two months ago, left us a treasure trove of pieces. Among them was a remembrance of Sigmund Freud and his nonbelief. “Religion is an illusion and it derives its strength from the fact that it falls in with our instinctual desires,” Freud stated.

This brilliant mind was on the right track, as we all know, which is why — with your help — we aim to imbibe freethought into people’s consciousness.

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