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Weekly Wrap: Media limelight, ticked-off officials, musical shows and holiday activism

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The weather may have cooled down but we at the Freedom From Religion Foundation have stayed warm under the hot glare of the media spotlight.

Oklahoma State Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters is actually threatening to take us to court, the Tulsa paper reports.

“Walters is considering legal action against a Wisconsin-based group calling for his resignation, he said last week,” says a story in the publication. “‘To think they’re going to continue to bully teachers is outrageous,’ Walters said, referring to the Freedom from Religion Foundation. ‘The options we’re looking at are very wide, very broad. Could be legal memos. Could be lawsuits.’”

Walters’ empty threats don’t scare us. Walters himself has gotten hot under the collar in good part due to us stopping an unconstitutional practice at an Oklahoma school.

“The Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) has persuaded an Oklahoma school district to stop broadcasting daily prayers at an elementary school,” an Oklahoma TV station says. “It was reported to FFRF by a community member that Prague Elementary School had been hosting daily prayers during its morning announcements, and that the Prague Public Schools Facebook page had been posting the photos and full names of young students ‘who supposedly asked if they could pray.’”

Walters should instead be thanking us for ensuring that schools in his state remain on the constitutional path.

Stop imposing your Christianity, we tell Tenn. governor
0e182574 34e7 6f11 4363 161056384e06 Weekly Wrap: Media limelight, ticked-off officials, musical shows and holiday activism
Our objection to Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee’s overtly Christian email holiday invite is also getting press attention.

“In a Nov. 29 letter to Lee, Freedom From Religion Foundation Co-Presidents Annie Laurie Gaylor and Dan Barker wrote the governor’s explicitly religious invitation felt like a slap in the face to non-Christians and showed a disregard for the Constitution,” says a piece in the Chattanooga paper. “The group told Lee that while he was free to subscribe to his own beliefs in his private life, the Constitution requires that he separate his personal religious beliefs from his official duties as a public official. ‘We request that in the future you refrain from using your elected position as governor to promote your personal religious belief,’ the letter said.”

If only the governor had the good sense to heed our advice.

Salt Lake City Mormon publication notices us
The main Mormon paper in Utah has noticed our objection to a city’s new religious motto.

“The City Council of Orem recently voted to adopt ‘In God We Trust’ as its official motto,” states a story in the Deseret News. “On Wednesday, the Freedom From Religion Foundation began publicly advocating for the city to reverse its decision to adopt this motto. The Freedom From Religion Foundation describes itself as ‘the largest national association of freethinkers, representing more than 40,000 atheists, agnostics and others.’ Staff attorney Chris Line wrote a letter to the city’s mayor David Young, imploring him to reverse his decision.”

We’ve made waves in Kansas
Our successful halting of religious music at a Kansas school is making a big media splash.

“We received a complaint from a parent of a child at Challenger Intermediate School,” a Kansas TV station quoted FFRF Legal Fellow Sammi Lawrence. “They told us that the sixth-grade music teacher was teaching students essentially several Christian worship songs in class and had taught the students a lesson on the bible story of Daniel.”

Raw Story gives us mention
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National media outfit Raw Story is giving play to a recent letter we sent to a school district in the Razorback State objecting to a clearly Christian halftime public school show.

“A national nonprofit organization urged an Arkansas school district to cease a band performance it says ‘condemns non-Christian viewers to damnation,’” says the online web portal. “The Freedom From Religion Foundation officials said they were contacted by school district community members concerned about the Lake Hamilton Power Band’s halftime and competition show called ‘Revival,’ which is themed after Christian tent revivals.”

Ban the bible, we insist to Calif. school district
We urged a California school district to ban the bible after a local district resident registered an official complaint with the district asking it to do so under its new policy targeting “sexually obscene materials.” The best solution is to leave a diversity of viewpoints in school libraries, we emphasized. However, so long as the district is choosing to remove books containing sexual content, the bible must be removed.

Our commentary on news events
In addition to our media noteworthy-interventions, we had a lot of incisive commentary to offer on current events.

We were deeply disappointed that House Speaker Mike Johnson chose to speak at a Christian nationalist meeting this past Tuesday — with detailed reasoning. We explained why the pope has (deservedly) sent some American prelates packing recently. We eulogized TV legend Norman (“All in the Family”) Lear as an effective secular activist. And we worryingly charted how Idaho has become the center of regressive abortion bans that are endangering patients.

Our hometown Solstice display
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We’re starting our holiday activities of putting up secular exhibits at public spaces around the country to counter religious displays by beginning at home. Our annual Winter Solstice exhibit at our state Capitol in Madison, Wis., returned for the 27th time.

“The Winter Solstice season is for everyone,” says Annie Laurie. “It is observed by people of all faiths and of no faith at all.”

Secularist and theocrat of the week
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Our lobbying arm gave its “Secularist of the Week” title to Rep. Maxwell Frost for excoriating Christian nationalists fellow Reps. Majorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert while Pastor Dusty Deevers was its “Theocrat of the Week”  for his vile comments on in vitro fertilization. Christian nationalism will continue to be a perturbation in the upcoming election year, but with advocates like Rep. Frost, the FFRF Action Fund will continue to fight against such threats.

Dan Barker’s musical TV performance
Our “Freethought Matter’s” TV show this Sunday has the second part of Co-President Dan Barker’s extended musical performance. Dan performs songs by Irving Berlin, Charles (“Annie”) Strouse, Yip (“Over the Rainbow”) Harburg, as well as his own work. You can already watch the show on our YouTube channel. Or find out where you can catch it on television Sunday.

How to have fun
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Our Freethought Radio show for this week contains a range of offerings. First, we have Dan Barker discussing his recent debate at Oxford University on the topic “Is God a Delusion?” Then, we listen to activist and political satirist Lizz Winstead, co-founder of “The Daily Show” and founder of Abortion Access Front, tell us how “to bring joy and fun to expose hypocrisy and to have hope.”

Remembering Sandra Day O’Connor
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On our Facebook Live “Ask an Atheist” feature this week, Associate Counsel Liz Cavell and Legal Director Rebecca Markert pay tribute to the recently deceased former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, including her major rulings on the Establishment Clause and her legacy at the court.

Charged for a miscarriage? Yes, that is happening.
FFRF Contributing Writer Barbara Alvarez delves into a scary situation in Ohio in which a woman has been charged for a miscarriage. Read on for the sad details.

Can we avoid insulting believers?
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Jim Haught died a few months ago, but he sent us a huge amount of pieces that we’re still drawing from. In the one for this week, he asks an important question: “Can we avoid insulting believers?” Find out the answer.

The weather may be chillier, but with your support, we’re keeping up a red-hot pace of activity.

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