Freethought NOW!

Weekly Wrap: Media coverage, holiday displays, Pentecostals, Winter Solstice, and human sacrifice

The holiday season gets hectic for us in all sorts of ways — and this week proved that to the hilt.

We received a good amount of media time. The objection of our Central Florida Freethought Community chapter to a “corrective” prayer following the chapter director’s secular invocation received coverage in area media outlets ranging from the Orlando paper to local TV stations.

“A local chapter of an atheist organization is demanding Lake County apologize after chapter leaders said they were discriminated against at a recent commission meeting,” states a story for the Orlando ABC affiliate.  “However, after Joseph Richardson finished, a Christian pastor stepped up to the podium, saying he had been asked to lead the group in prayer. Freethought Community leaders are now crying foul, saying the pastor was asked to speak because their message was not sufficiently Christian.”

Our lawsuit progresses
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The progress of our lawsuit in West Virginia over students being forced to attend a religious revival was also covered by television.

“A lawsuit against the Cabell County school district has been allowed to move forward following a judge’s ruling,” reports the Fox/ABC affiliate in Charleston, W.Va. “The Associated Press reported the suit was filed in U.S. District Court on behalf of families by the Freedom From Religion Foundation. It alleges the Cabell County school system has a systematic history of disregarding the religious freedom of its students and instituting Christian religious practices.”

Yay for member activism!
The activism of our Maine chapter created a stir in obtaining the desired result.

“The town of Bucksport has pulled a Christmas nativity scene from public property after receiving a complaint from an atheist activist who lives in Litchfield,” reports a conservative state news portal. “Tom E. Waddell, the local chapter president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, complained to Bucksport officials about the depiction of sweet baby Jesus and asked them to also accommodate his request for a poster showing the Bill of Rights.”

We love it when member activism leads to constitutional victories — and even more so when this gets press coverage, regardless of the source.

Our secular displays are all over the United States
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We were also occupied with putting up — with your help, of course — secular holiday displays around the country to counter the all-pervasive religious messaging in public venues.

Our Bill of Rights “nativity” display has been installed in the Hawkeye State’s seat of lawmaking for the sixth year in a row. Our Metropolitan Chicago Chapter has again erected annual Winter Solstice exhibits throughout Chicagoland. Our local volunteers are continuing the freethinking tradition in a Connecticut community this December, undeterred by the fact that our banner has been previously vandalized. Our Greater Sacramento chapter happily returned to the California Capitol for the sixth year in a row with a Bill of Rights nativity exhibit — perfectly timed for Bill of Rights Day, which this year we need to double down to preserve.

Responding to secular developments
We kept an eye on secular developments in the news and responded accordingly.

We were delighted to see a recent AP report recognize that “nonreligious voters wield serious clout,” especially since we recently engaged in a nationwide “I’m secular and I vote” campaign. We applauded historic testimony before Congress about Christian nationalism. We emphasized that recent events, such as a party involving Justice Brett Kavanaugh and damning congressional testimony, show how imperative it is for Congress to enforce a code of conduct for the Supreme Court. We castigated the White House’s cynical “get out of jail free” card to India and Nigeria after the Biden administration neglected to designate them as “countries of particular concern” despite the recommendation of a quasi-official body to do that.

Our objection to unconstitutional transfer of land
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And we continued our constitutional activism. We strongly objected to a Texas community college’s gift of public land and buildings to an area Christian school. “It’s a fundamental constitutional principle that in the United States, no citizen should be taxed to support someone else’s church or religious institution,” said FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor.

An incisive analysis of the Supreme Court
We’ve created a potpourri of media offerings for you this week.

As part of our focus on the U.S. Supreme Court, on our “Ask an Atheist” Facebook Live feature we played from our recent convention in San Antonio the speech of ACLU Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief Director Daniel Mach. Listen to his biting analysis here.

How the Pentecostals are taking over the world
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On our Freethought Radio show, we had a very lively interview on an extremely important subject. Freethought Radio co-hosts Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor spoke with Australian reporter Elle Hardy about her new book, Beyond Belief: How Pentecostal Christianity is Taking Over the World. Yikes!

A Sunday Winter Solstice celebration 
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Our TV show this week is suffused with a different mood. “Freethought Matters” co-hosts Dan and Annie Laurie guide us on a warm personal and historical tour of Winter Solstice, with on-the-road legal analysis and a musical delight. You can already watch the show here on our YouTube channel. Or find out where you can catch it Sunday.

The harm that religion causes
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Our two columnists this week documented the harm religion brings about in all sorts of ways. Abortion access in the United States is in peril, FFRF Contributing Writer Barbara Alvarez warned, pointing out that abortion bans are solely based in religion. And veteran freethinker and writer Jim Haught tallied the toll of religion in just one realm. “In the history of religion, uncountable centuries of human sacrifice present a gory stunner,” his riveting piece began.

We know the damage that religion causes — which is why, with your support, we’re dedicated to battling its influence in all spheres.

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