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Weekly Wrap: Our Satanic Temple lawsuit, churches and taxes, Christian nationalism and world peace

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The satanic temple after school satan club logo. It features a cartoon satan in a scholarly outfit.

We love it here at the Freedom From Religion Foundation when the work we do gets public notice — and this week was a good one in that regard.

“The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) filed a lawsuit against the Shelby County Board of Education on behalf of The Satanic Temple over what the club calls discriminatory practices,” a Memphis publication reported on a significant legal action we recently undertook.

A Tennessee media outlet gave our case extensive play.

“A national group representing the Satanic Temple filed a lawsuit against Memphis-Shelby County Schools alleging it violated the organizations First Amendment right to free assembly when it blocked an afterschool club from meeting on school property,” stated the Tennessee Lookout. “The suit, filed earlier this week, stems from the Temple’s efforts to hold meetings of the After School Satan Club (ASSC) — which offers science- and nature-based activities and arts and crafts programs — at Chimneyrock Elementary School.”

As part of its story, the Lookout actually put up our legal complaint, as did a Memphis TV station. Of course, you can find it on our website, too.

Not-so-sweet home Alabama
A photo of a locker room wall that says "god team me"
The main news portal in Alabama generously covered a recent intervention of ours in the Yellowhammer State.

“The Freedom From Religion Foundation has sent a letter of complaint to Oak Grove High School in west Jefferson County, alleging religious coercion on the football team,” reported Al.com. “The religious motto, ‘God, Team, Me,’ has been posted in the team’s locker room and official team shirts, according to the group’s complaint. … The Freedom From Religion group, based in Madison, Wis., sent a letter urging the coach to immediately stop engaging in religious activity or otherwise promoting his personal religious beliefs in his role as a football coach, and for the district to remove the godly motto and make certain that official district apparel no longer includes religious messages or bible verses.”

We caused a stir in Oklahoma
A photo of dusty deevers

The Lawton paper in Oklahoma took due note when we asked a theocratic state senator to resign over his Christian nationalist remarks. “The Freedom From Religion Foundation is calling on Oklahoma Sen. Dusty Deevers, R-Elgin, to step down after he claimed his religious beliefs trump the law and his constitutional obligations,” the paper reported. You can read more about our intervention here.

We’ve been vigilant
We kept an eye on a wide range of events. We celebrated a circuit court ruling dismissing a lawsuit by a high school in our hometown against the city of Madison for refusing to allow the installation of lights at the school’s football and soccer field. “This case shows the lengths that religious institutions will go to claim that anything they do is related to religious activity and deserves privileging,” FFRF Co-President Dan Barker remarked. And we applauded the work of Florida educators, activists and legal advocates that led to the recent defanging of the state’s infamous “Don’t Say Gay” Law.

Christian nationalism ain’t popular
A photo of a graph from the pew research center. The graph is labeled "share of americans who say religion's influence is eclining is as high as it's ever been"

A new Pew study that observes a religious divide in the country but an overall rejection of Christian nationalism caught our attention.

“This survey shows our country remains the Divided States of America over religion and politics,” said FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “But it also shows that Christian nationalism is not a popular viewpoint.”

FFRF Action Fund’s ‘Theocrat” and ‘Secularist’ of the week
A photo of megan hunt labeled secularist of the week and a photo of loren lippincott labeled theocrat of the week

The “theocrat” and “secularist” designations of our lobbying arm this week were bestowed on “dueling” Nebraska state senators who represent staggeringly different stances on preserving the secular nature of the U.S. government: It lauded Sen. Megan Hunt for her exceptional career as a secular state legislator and derided state Sen. Loren Lippincott for his gross Christian nationalist statements following his misuse of a state legislative hearing room for a religious purpose. “We’re lucky to have an ally like Hunt in Nebraska to counter the Christian nationalist agenda of colleagues like Lippincott,” said Annie Laurie.

Released time and (no) chaplains in Indiana public schools
The Fund also lamented the passage of legislation in Indiana that forces public schools to prioritize religious instruction but cheered the defeat of a proposal to bring chaplains into schools. Revealing the released time bill’s intent to promote religion, at one point it was amended to further indoctrinate children by allowing religious chaplains on school grounds. Thankfully, the chaplain amendment, which FFRF Action Fund strenuously opposed — submitting testimony and asking its almost 800 advocates in Indiana to oppose — died.

The “anti-Moms for Liberty”
A photo of people holding our schools usa signs, with the title "the anti-moms for liberty" overtop

Our media offerings this week cover a wide array of issues. On our Facebook Live “Ask an Atheist” feature,  FFRF Action Fund’s Director of Governmental Affairs Mark Dann and FFRF Staff Attorney Chris Line talked to Kristi Hirst from Our Schools USA, the “anti-Moms for Liberty.” Our Schools USA, dedicated to advancing quality public education for all students, was formed a year ago with the goal to “make school board meetings boring again.” Watch the interesting conversation here.

A funny and serious TV show guest
A screenshot from the show freethought matters of meagan hatcher-mays

Our courts and our democracy may not be laughing matters but our TV show guest is someone who can be simultaneously funny and serious while discussing them. Meagan Hatcher-Mays is an attorney and democracy expert who co-hosts a humorous podcast on NPR called “Text Me Back.” You can already watch the fun interview on our YouTube channel. Or find out where to catch it on television Sunday.

Talking about our recent activities
photos of Mark Dann and Ryan Jayne

Our Freethought Radio program this week deals with our recent actions. FFRF Senior Counsel Patrick Elliott talks about our Satanic Temple lawsuit. Then, FFRF Director of Governmental Affairs Mark Dann and Senior Policy Counsel Ryan Jayne describe how the FFRF Action Fund is working to keep religion out of our laws and policies.

How churches pay no taxes
Listen to the latest episode of “We Dissent,” a monthly podcast by FFRF Legal Director Rebecca Markert, FFRF Attorney Liz Cavell and American Atheists Legal Director Alison Gill, to learn about how religious organizations get away with paying no taxes — due to official blessing. You’ll be taken on a compelling journey through the history and principles behind the U.S. government exempting churches from taxation.

Annie Laurie’s tribute to freethinking humorist Malachy McCourt
Annie Laurie penned a wry tribute to Malachy McCourt, author of Death Need Not be Fatal, the last surviving sibling of Angela’s Ashes author Frank McCourt, himself an author, an actor who frequently portrayed priests, a humorist — and an outspoken, happy atheist. Malachy, who died March 11 at age 92, was a guest on both “Freethought Matters” and Freethought Radio, and you can read in the piece his humorous freethinking quips on these shows (you can view and listen through links in the piece the shows themselves).

Religion is a detriment to world peace
A vintage photo of planes dropping bombs with the title in cursive overtop "no world peace while religion exists"

FFRF Contributing Writer Barbara Walker asserts in her column this week that it’s very unlikely that there will ever be real peace in the world as long as religion exists. “The world will never be mentally or emotionally free — or at peace — until religion has disappeared and been replaced by real knowledge, genuine sympathies, and true heartfelt humanity that respects all of our fellow creatures,” she concludes.

We are in concordance with her views, which is why with your support, we aim to propagate freethinking values week after week.

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