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Weekly Wrap: Billboards, ads, interventions and interviews

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Billboard and members 08.17.23 Weekly Wrap: Billboards, ads, interventions and interviews

We at the Freedom From Religion Foundation have been everywhere.

With the vital help of our Columbus chapter, we put up a billboard in Ohio’s capital defending abortion rights ahead of a crucial referendum on the issue. “The fight to reaffirm abortion rights is really about the need to buttress the wall separating the state from the church,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor.

Watch for our Ron Reagan ad on CNN
Our iconic commercial, featuring “unabashed atheist” Ron Reagan, will play during CNN’s upcoming special on abortion. The Anderson Cooper-hosted show, featuring immersive reporting inside a network of organizers who help women travel to doctors around the country to access legal abortion, premieres on Sunday, Sept. 3, at 8 p.m. Eastern. To show support for abortion rights, FFRF’s 30-second spot will air twice during the special.

No prayer walks, we’re insisting
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We urged a Florida school system to cease the prayer walks they regularly conduct with a local church. “About 400 Church of Hope congregation members fanned out in small groups to perform prayer walks at 43 Marion County public schools on Sunday morning in advance of school opening day, Thursday, Aug. 10,” a local story reports.

Yikes! This must stop, we’re insisting.

Don’t have prayer at staff meetings
We asked a Texas school district to stop imposing prayer at staff meetings. “It is unconstitutional for a public school district to require employees to observe and participate in prayer as part of a mandatory staff meeting, including a district’s annual staff inservice,” FFRF Anne Nicol Gaylor Legal Fellow Sammi Lawrence wrote to the Abilene-Wylie Independent School District superintendent. The sup can trust us on this.

Ban the bible!
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We insisted that the Cobb County School District in Georgia include the bible in its current book-banning campaign. The district recently started banning books from its schools based on “highly inappropriate, sexually explicit” content; the bible certainly fits the bill, we pointed out.

The audacity of the Catholic Church!
The Archdiocese of Denver caught our eye with an audacious lawsuit complaining that a new universal preschool funding law banning discrimination therefore discriminates against the Catholic Church. Maybe if we started taxing churches, school districts would have the resources to meet the need for secular pre-K themselves, incorporating early childhood education into the school day — just as it ought to be. And maybe, just maybe, the Catholic Church is overplaying its hand with its openly hateful discrimination against LGBTQ individuals.

Climate change denial plan is bonkers
Our lobbying arm decried during the hottest week of the year a Heritage Foundation climate change denial plan that the religion-based outfit has prepared for the next Republican president. “The evangelical denial of climate change based on nonsensical scripture is as dangerous as it is ignorant,” says Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF Action Fund president.

Secularists and theocrats
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The Fund also chose its secularists and theocrat of the week. Six Guilford County, N.C., commissioners were honored for rejecting an effort to plaster “In God We Trust” onto 10 county buildings. And disgraced former Washington state Rep. Matt Shea, an infamous Christian nationalist, earned the “Theocrat of the Week” moniker for his recent appearance alongside the Spokane mayor at a Christian nationalist worship event hosted by singer Sean Feucht.

The religious nationalisms of India and Israel
I was privileged to interview on a Madison community radio show the author of a new book on the close bond between India and Israel, which is fueled by their increasingly hardline religious nationalisms. Listen here to the fascinatingly informative conversation.

A university newspaper cites us
And we were flattered when a University of Indianapolis student cited us in defending her position that “In God We Trust” is unconstitutional. “I certainly make a mental connection between the government and the Christian God when I see ‘In God We Trust’ on all the money I touch, the license plates of countless cars I drive past, and official buildings (including public schools) I visit — and I am not alone, according to the Freedom From Religion Foundation,” writes Hannah Hadley, the opinion editor of the university paper. More power to her!

Being a gay atheist in Egypt
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FFRF Co-President Dan Barker extended our gaze globally on our “Ask an Atheist” Facebook Live feature this week. Dan interviewed Egyptian Mohamed Hisham, an openly gay atheist from a country where being an atheist is dangerous on its own. Watch the gripping interview here.

Evangelicals v. Ecumenicals
For our radio show this week, Freethought Radio co-hosts Dan and Annie Laurie interviewed Berkeley history Professor David A. Hollinger about his fascinating new book Christianity’s American Fate: How Religion Became More Conservative and Society More Secular. Listen to his incisive analysis here.

Robert Ingersoll’s timeless brilliance
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FFRF columnist James Haught died on July 23. We still have a bunch of pieces that Jim gave us to use — some fresh and others previously published — that we will be sending out in the coming weeks. His column this week focuses on the timeless brilliance of freethinker Robert Ingersoll, a giant in his time who deserves to be better known in ours. “There can be but little liberty on Earth while men worship a tyrant in heaven,” Ingersoll boldly stated.

Sign up for our convention!
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A final word to the wise: Our 46th annual convention is quickly approaching — and you won’t want to miss it! The gathering will take place Friday, Oct. 13, and Saturday, Oct. 14,  in Madison, Wis. The registration deadline is Sept. 29. Please sign up now! The convention promises to be quite a treat.

We’d love to see you in October! After all, we are nothing without our members.

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