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Weekly Wrap: Major victories, good media play, a great bill and a USA Today Veterans Day ad

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We at the Freedom From Religion Foundation are constantly striving to advance our mission — and often obtaining a good amount of success and media play while doing so.

We recently achieved a major victory for South Carolina taxpayers. We had filed a suit last year on behalf of four South Carolina taxpayers against state officials, including the governor, challenging the state’s unconstitutional $1.5 million funding of a religious group. Christian Learning Centers of Greenville County, whose mission is to “provide biblical instruction for public school children at no cost,” withdrew its request after pressure from FFRF’s lawsuit.

“This was a blatantly Christian outfit that was unconstitutionally aiming to become the beneficiary of a huge public giveaway,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “We were able to ensure with our lawsuit that this didn’t happen.”

Nashville paper covers us at length
We’re delighted to see that the Nashville paper provided major coverage for a recent action of ours.

“A high school in Robertson County is facing First Amendment questions after hosting a religious event for student athletes during practice — a move one organization is calling ‘unconstitutional’ and ‘indoctrination,’” starts a long piece in the publication. “The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a national organization that works to uphold the separation of religion and governance, is calling upon White House Heritage High School to investigate after Andrew Fortner, a member of religious organization Middle Tennessee Fellowship of Christian Athletes, led a religious ceremony during a school basketball practice on Nov. 1.”

We are quoted extensively in the article. Read it here.

W. Va. legal publication reports on our victory
The West Virginia Record, a publication covering legal issues in the Mountain State, recently wrote about a major settlement and policy change that we facilitated.

“Four families have settled a lawsuit against the Cabell County Board of Education after it agreed to change a policy to ensure religious freedom of students,” stated its article. “The Freedom From Religion Foundation represented the families. ‘We are pleased with the result of the lawsuit and are confident that other students will not have to endure similar problems in the future,’ FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor said of the settlement.”

Our intervention here has already received coverage from the Associated Press and West Virginia Public Broadcasting — which means that we hit a media trifecta!

Georgia Public Broadcasting will do a story on us
Our objection to football baptisms (!) in a Peach State school district has attracted attention. Georgia Public Broadcasting is doing a story on this. We’ll keep you posted. For now, check out the weird details of the “ceremony” here.

Our USA Today Veterans Day ad honors nonbelievers
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We are taking out a Veterans Day ad this Saturday with USA Today that honors those who have served, especially freethinkers. About a quarter of our members are veterans or in the military, we’re proud to say. “You’ve been fighting for our secular Constitution and our freedom — let us fight for you,” the ad states.

Rise in QAnon beliefs alarming
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We drew attention to a new survey showing an ominous uptick in the belief of QAnon-related claims between 2021 and 2023 spanning every demographic measured. This includes the religiously unaffiliated, although they still score better than any other religious demographic. “Secular Americans are generally clinging to reality against a national trend toward madness, but for many the grip seems to be slipping,” commented FFRF Senior Policy Counsel Ryan Jayne.

Applauding Rep. Huffman for a great bill
Our lobbying arm, the FFRF Action Fund, proudly applauded Rep. Jared Huffman’s reintroduction of the Health Share Transparency Act, a crucial piece of legislation for safeguarding consumers from potentially harmful practices within health care sharing ministries. What are these, you may ask? They are religion-based entities, with 1.7 million members nationwide, that are almost unregulated because of their religious nature.

Wis. church constitutional amendment proposal alarming
FFRF Action Fund also expressed its alarm at a proposed amendment the Wisconsin Senate just passed that would prevent state or local agencies from requiring places of worship to temporarily close, even during public health emergencies. The Fund is urging Wisconsinites to vocally oppose this dangerous proposal.

Secularist and Theocrat of the Week
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FFRF Action Fund is pleased to name the venerable Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, who has represented Washington, D.C., in Congress for 15 terms, as its Secularist of the Week. Holmes Norton has been a stalwart civil rights activist throughout her illustrious career who has recently signed onto Rep. Jared Huffman’s excellent bill that is mentioned above. In stark contrast is former Trump official William Wolfe, a self-described Christian nationalist the Fund has chosen as its Theocrat of the Week.

Sunday TV show guest explains her disbelief
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We have interviewed for our TV show this Sunday a Washington Post contributor who has a new book explaining why she stopped pretending to believe. Kate Cohen’s recently published work is called We of Little Faith. You can already catch the show on our YouTube channel. Or find out where you can watch it on television Sunday.

A discussion of surveys and polls
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Our “Ask an Atheist” Facebook Live feature this week took a unique approach.  FFRF Associate Counsel Liz Cavell and Staff Attorney Chris Line discussed recent surveys, polls and the like regarding religion, atheism and FFRF’s work. Among the striking findings: the vertiginous rise of the “Nones” and the accompanying decline of organized religion in this country.

How fascism and Nazism influenced Hindu nationalism
As the guest host for Freethought Radio, I did a fascinating interview with University of Turin Professor Marzia Casolari about her groundbreaking book, In the Shadow of the Swastika, spotlighting the influence of Italian fascism and Nazism on the Hindu nationalist movement currently governing India. Casolari reveals some startling information!

How to honor National Native American Heritage Month
FFRF Contributing Writer Barbara Alvarez writes that to truly honor November as National Native American Heritage Month this year, we need to ensure that discriminatory anti-abortion legislation is repealed. “Our secular voices are needed to make this change,” Barbara concludes.

White evangelicals are opposed to Jesus
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“White evangelicals don’t seem to get it,” writes Jim Haught, who died a few months ago but left us a treasure trove of pieces to use. “Clearly, without question, Jesus espoused values aligned with the modern political left,” Jim asserts, citing a litany of evidence to support his claim.

Superwealthy churches absurdly claim they can’t pay damages
FFRF Senior Policy Counsel Ryan Jayne details in his new blog the absurdity of superwealthy churches claiming that they can’t pay for all the harm they’ve caused.

“Unlike many for-profit businesses where filing for bankruptcy is essentially the company’s final action, for many wealthy churches bankruptcy is primarily a way to avoid paying survivors what they would otherwise be entitled to under the law,” Ryan writes. “The churches will endure — so long as churches have congregants, the money for their invisible product will continue to flow, and with that cash comes an incentive to continue covering up abuse.”

With your help, we aim to end such abuses of organized religion — once and for all.

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