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Weekly Wrap: Donald Trump, Speaker Mike Johnson, Joy Reid and Christian nationalism

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An image of the ffrf marquee "our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions" -Thomas Jefferson Jan. 16, 1786

It may be freezing cold here in the upper Midwest, but our red-hot activism at the Freedom From Religion Foundation on behalf of the Constitution has more than kept us warm.

Our admonition to a Virginia school board over its official prayers has yielded results.
“The Rockingham County School Board will revert to opening public meetings with a moment of silence, at least temporarily, after receiving a letter from the Freedom from Religion Foundation that argued its recent implementation of an invocation to start meetings was unconstitutional,” says a story in the local paper. “Rockingham County School Board Chair Matt Cross posted on Facebook that he decided to pause opening meetings with an invocation on Wednesday, a little less than a week since The Freedom from Religion Foundation, a national nonprofit organization that promotes ‘the constitutional principle of separation of state and church,’ sent the board a letter.”

Read here for further details on how our constitutional vigilance bore fruit (including words of wisdom from FFRF Staff Attorney Chris Line, whose letter to the school board made it change its approach).

We ended unconstitutional kindergarten prayer
A logo for newtown county schools

We also ensured that kindergarten students in the Newton County School District in Decatur, Miss., will no longer be led in daily prayer by their teacher. “School districts exist to educate, not indoctrinate students into religion,” said FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor.

Remove Christian nationalist flag, we tell member of Congress
A tweet from Rep. Jared Huffman that says "I haven't seen one of these in the Capitol sice it was used to bludgeon cops and smash windows in the January 6th insurrection. Starting to feel like old times..." An image is attached that shows the flag outside an office.

We rebuked a member of Congress for flying a Christian nationalist flag associated with the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection outside his office in the (you can’t make this up!) U.S. Capitol building itself. Rep. Greg Steube, a Republican who represents Florida’s 17th District, took an oath on our country’s entirely secular Constitution and has no business placing this divisive sectarian endorsement in front of his Washington, D.C., office, we are stressing.

Our second request to a N.C. county board
We sent a second, very firm request to the Wilkes County Board in North Carolina to revoke its action proclaiming “Christian Heritage” all year round, calling the proclamation full of shameless “distortions, errors, misquotes and bowdlerizations.” We included with our letter a seven-page memo that fact-checks each paragraph of the proclamation, providing rebuttal and corrections and concluded our petition to the Wilkes County Board by telling it: “Honesty, integrity and the Constitution make it incumbent that the Wilkes County Christian Heritage proclamation be rescinded.”

The Supreme Court’s attack on religious freedom
We noted the dark clouds that have formed around Religious Freedom Day this year, with its principles under Supreme Court attack. We asked: How can its core tenets endure much longer with a high court that is this hostile to its basic precepts?

Join us for a gala Thomas Paine celebration
An image that says "thomas paine memorial association. 1/29/24. The anti-slavery efforts of Thomas Paine. an online presentation.

All is not doom and gloom, however. We are proud to be a part of a grand celebration honoring both the Jan. 29 birthday of Thomas Paine and Black History Month in recognition of his significant anti-slavery efforts. Members of Congress, educators, celebrities, politicians, social influencers and others are scheduled to appear throughout this greatly anticipated commemoration in admiration for Paine’s far-ahead-of-his-time views on racial issues. Pre-registration is required for the event, which begins at 7 p.m. Eastern on Jan. 29, and the registration link is here.

How white evangelicals made Trump win in Iowa
Our lobbying arm was on the ball, too. Immediately after Donald Trump’s landslide triumph in the Iowa caucus, the FFRF Action Fund pointed out how white evangelicals, many of them sympathetic to white Christian nationalism, ensured his victory.

A praiseworthy congressional report on Speaker Johnson’s Christian nationalism
The Fund praised the Congressional Freethought Caucus for its just-released report detailing House Speaker Mike Johnson’s deep connections with Christian nationalism. “Speaker Johnson is deeply connected in political practice and philosophy to Christian nationalism, more so than any other speaker in American history,” notes the hard-hitting report.

Theocrats and secularists
There are three pictures of people. The first is labeled secularist of the week and is a photo of joy reid. The second two are labeled theocrats of the week and are of brian lenney and elaine price.

The Fund declared MSNBC national correspondent Joy Reid its “Secularist of the Week” for boldly calling out white Christian nationalism as the leading reason for Trump’s success in Iowa’s caucus. And it singled out two Idaho state legislators as “Theocrat of the Week” offenders for seeking to repeal Idaho state constitutional protections against pouring public funds into religious schools. Read here to further find out why we chose these folks.

A.C. Grayling interviewed on our Sunday TV show
A screenshot from the freethought matters tv show of A.C. Grayling

A highly esteemed philosopher is interviewed on the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s TV talk show this Sunday. A.C. Grayling, a legendary British thinker and the author of about 30 books, grapples in the interview with philosophy and the pandemic, and discusses how he dealt as a nonbeliever with a personal tragedy. You can watch the show already on our YouTube Channel. Or look up where you can catch it on TV Sunday.

A double treat on Freethought Radio
We have a double treat for you on our Freethought Radio show this week. First, Margaret Downey, president of the Thomas Paine Memorial Association, informs co-hosts Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor about the exciting Thomas Paine birthday celebrations. Then, yours truly conducts an interview with the actor, theater director and artist-in-residence at UW-Madison Vamsi Matta, a Dalit (the most oppressed in the Hindu caste hierarchy) who is fighting back against religious discrimination both in India and the United States.

Religious coercion of a captive audience
A photo of a jail cell with a shadow of a cross inside it that says the ultimate captive audience

On our “Ask an Atheist” Facebook Live feature this week, FFRF Associate Counsel Liz Cavell and Staff Attorney Chris Line are joined by American Atheists Litigation Counsel Geoffrey T. Blackwell to discuss religious coercion of the ultimate captive audience: people inside prisons and jails. Watch the riveting discussion here.

How our calendar reflects patriarchal religion
An image of the moon that is titled how our calendar reflects patriarchal religion

FFRF Contributing Writer Barbara Walker provides us with an excellent tutorial not too far into our current calendar year on how our contemporary calendar has been distorted by patriarchal religion. Read here to learn a lot.

In the coldest month of the year, we are keeping warm due to our productive activism — made possible only due to your support.

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