Freethought NOW!

Weekly Wrap: Lots of media, a civil society coalition, secular public officials and the scam of immortality

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A photo of the marquee outside of FFRF that says "Celebrate International Women's Day!"

We’ve been having fun defending constitutional principles here at Freedom From Religion Foundation — and even more fun basking in media attention.

When we applauded the Biden administration’s changes to rules regarding federally funded social service organizations, a Christian broadcast outfit quoted us (and not in a mocking way).

“The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) hailed the new regulations as a victory for equity in a press release,” said FISM News. “The organization, which sued to reverse Trump’s rule in 2020 [the lawsuit is currently being reconsidered], said that the new rule means that individuals are no longer ‘at risk of being needlessly guided into religious activities or having to forgo assistance altogether in order to avoid participation.’”

Palm Beach paper notices our intervention
The Palm Beach Post has done an extensive article on a recent intervention of ours.

“The Palm Beach County school district is investigating a veteran Santaluces High teacher who handed out religious pamphlets in class that encouraged students to ‘join us as we worship our Savior Jesus’ and included service times at an evangelical church in Lake Clarke Shores,” the paper writes. “It’s not clear how many students received the pamphlets, but the parent filed a complaint with the Freedom From Religion Foundation, an organization based in Wisconsin that regularly notifies government agencies, including school boards, of incidents in which employees or public messaging violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. ‘We want a government to be comfortable for all people regardless of religion,’ FFRF staff attorney Chris Line said. ‘We want to make sure the government is neutral (on matters of religion).’”

LA Daily News gives us prominence
The Los Angeles Daily News provided lengthy coverage for our objection to a local preacher’s electioneering.

“A Chino Hills pastor endorsed a candidate for U.S. Senate, renewing a religious watchdog group’s concerns about electioneering from the pulpit,” the story begins. “Freedom from Religion Foundation is putting pressure on the IRS to revoke Calvary Chapel Chino Hills‘ tax-exempt status after pastor Jack Hibbs during a Sunday service encouraged the congregation to vote for Steve Garvey for California’s open U.S. Senate seat.”

The Oklahoman quotes us at length
A photo of a chaplain

The Oklahoma City newspaper reached out to us for our critique of state legislation introducing chaplains into public schools.

“Ryan Jayne, senior policy counsel with the Freedom From Religion Foundation Action Fund, also expressed skepticism about the true motivation of chaplain bills,” the piece begins its quoting of us (with a number of subsequent quotes). “‘These chaplain bills are a terrible idea, and would give school districts the false impression that they are allowed to employ religious ministers to provide religious counsel to students, on campus during the school day. There is no way to make this practice constitutional at a public school,’ Jayne said.”

Religion News Service mentions us
Religion News Service, the premier media outfit covering religion and secularism, mentioned us in a piece about Rep. Jared Huffman, chair of the Congressional Freethought Caucus, who had Christians Against Christian Nationalism lead organizer Amanda Tyler (an ally of ours) as a guest for the presidential State of the Union address.

“The caucus escalated its criticism of Christian nationalism after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol,” states the article. “Members of the caucus invited scholars and activists, including Tyler and figures from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, to brief them about the role Christian nationalism played in the attack.”

Our full-page ad in the New York Times
We made a big splash in the media in other ways, too.

We had a full-page ad in the New York Times today for International Women’s Day excoriating the recent anti-IVF Alabama Supreme Court decision. The ad points out that the word “God” appears nowhere in our secular Constitution, but appears 41 times in a concurring opinion by the Alabama chief justice, who warned that the “wrath of a holy God” is incurred if frozen embryos for fertility treatment are destroyed. Take a look at the ad here.

Our Ron Reagan commercial marks return of Jon Stewart
A still of the FFRF Ron Reagan Ad

And we are welcoming back Jon Stewart by running our ad featuring Ron Reagan on “The Daily Show” during his hosting every Monday through April 1. “It’s such a delight to have Jon Stewart regaling us again — and what better way to celebrate his comeback than our iconic Ron Reagan ad,” said Dan Barker, FFRF co-president. (The ad also ran after the State of the Union speech yesterday on CBS and during the live “Late Show with Stephen Colbert” coverage of the speech.)

Our defense of Politico
We also came to the defense of the media. We countered attacks on Politico by Christian nationalist leaders charging that the media outlet has been recently engaging in biased reporting. Reporter Heidi Pryzbyla and Politico do not owe an apology to anyone and should continue covering Christian nationalism — the greatest current threat to our democracy.

Don’t waste your money, Kentucky
A photo of the Arc Encounter, a large Arc built with a sidewalk around it

We admonished the Kentucky government for spending hundreds of thousands of dollars popularizing dubious religious attractions. The Northern Kentucky Convention & Visitors Bureau’s new Faith Trail program has received a $305,000 grant from the state for a self-guided tour through 11 Christian sites, two of which, the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum, are well known for their anti-science worldviews. “By promoting exclusively Christian sites, including two that spread blatant misinformation, the Bureau is unconstitutionally favoring Christianity over all other faiths,” FFRF Co-Presidents Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor recently stated.

We’re part of a coalition against public school chaplains
Our lobbying arm, the FFRF Action Fund, joined a large coalition against public-school chaplain programs, signing a letter with other prominent secular and civil-society groups speaking out against such legislative measures being introduced around the country. “Students deserve qualified help for academic counseling, mental health support or suicide prevention,” said FFRF Action Fund President Annie Laurie Gaylor.

We interviewed an atheist state senator
A photo of Kelda Roys

The Action Fund’s Senior Policy Counsel Ryan Jayne was on Freethought Radio this week to tell people “everything you need to know about public school chaplain bills.” Then, Dan and Annie Laurie spoke with Wisconsin state Sen. Kelda Roys, an openly atheistic public official who is working to improve this world.

Secularist and theocratic public officials
A photo of Jasmine Crockett labeled Secularist of the Week and of Tom Woods labeled Theocrat of the Week

The FFRF Action Fund celebrated its “Secularist of the Week,” U.S. Rep. Jasmine Crockett, for her pushback against the authoritarian Christian nationalist Presidential Transition Project (Project 2025) and named a bigoted Oklahoma state senator, Tom Woods, as its “Theocrat of the Week.” Cheers to the former and jeers to the latter.

Barry Lynn charts his spirited activism
A screenshot of FFRF's Freethought Matters show with Barry Lynn

An ardent longtime secular activist looks back at his eventful life on our Sunday television show. Barry W. Lynn was the executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State for 25 years. Lynn’s new memoir is titled Paid to Piss People Off and traces the major periods of his life in three alliterative volumes: “Peace,” “Porn” and “Prayer.” You can already watch the show on our YouTube channel. Or find out where you can catch it on television Sunday.

How religious freedom has been weaponized
A title screen that says "Who's Religious Freedom" with religious symbols behind it in red

On our “Ask an Atheist” Facebook Live feature, FFRF Staff Attorney Chris Line and Anne Nicol Gaylor Legal Fellow Sammi Lawrence discussed “religious freedom” and how the phrase has been co-opted and weaponized by the religious right. Watch the interesting discussion here of how this hyperreligious minority is acting to force American society into its image — to the detriment of the rest of us.

Immortality is a scam
A photo of a child and an older person from older photographs. In cursive the title "immortality is a scam" is written.

FFRF Contributing Writer Barbara Walker delves this week into the concept of immortality.

“What can we conclude about our fabled immortality?” Barbara asks. “First, that it is a monumentally successful moneymaking scam; second, that it is perpetuated by our monumentally egotistical view of ourselves; third, that it can exist only in our imagination but nowhere in the real world.”

It’s not just immortality but the notions of religion more broadly that are a scam. With your help, we strive to expose this scam week in and week out.

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