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Weekly Wrap: The Ten Commandments, our lawsuit, Louisiana, Oklahoma and a new national TV ad

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4ba238a4 b1f2 c3f6 7a32 7dc868033a5d Weekly Wrap: The Ten Commandments, our lawsuit, Louisiana, Oklahoma and a new national TV ad

Our legal focus at the Freedom From Religion Foundation was highly intense this week.

FFRF sued in U.S. district court to overturn the new Louisiana law requiring public schools to display the Ten Commandments. As part of a coalition, we represent  nine Louisiana families, who are nonreligious, Unitarian Universalist, Jewish and Christian, and assert that the newly enacted statute violates longstanding U.S. Supreme Court precedent and the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment. “Posting the Ten Commandments in every Louisiana public-school classroom, rendering them unavoidable, unconstitutionally pressures students into religious observance, veneration, and adoption of a state-sanctioned, favored religious scripture,” a joint statement of the suing groups said.

The new law — and our lawsuit — has gotten a ton of media coverage nationally and in Louisiana outlets. Read some of that here.

We promise to counter Oklahoma’s biblical push in public schools
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The Oklahoma superintendent of public instruction doesn’t seem to be paying attention, though. Ryan Walters announced yesterday his attempt to force the bible and the Ten Commandments into Oklahoma’s public schools — and we are vowing to take action to stop it.

“Both Democratic lawmakers and groups like the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) have claimed this move to be unconstitutional,” reports an Oklahoma TV station. “‘It’s raising a whole lot of red flags off the bat,’ said Chris Line, staff attorney for the FFRF.”

The piece quotes Chris at length.

Our new ad debuted during the presidential debate
We proudly debuted a new ad during the presidential debate yesterday. The ad also appeared twice Monday on Rachel Maddow’s program and Tuesday and Wednesday on the Chris Hayes show. The commercial opens with ominous music, photographs and footage from the Christian nationalist-based Jan. 6 insurrection, references bans on abortion and LGBTQ rights and concludes with positive images of freethinkers. You can watch the ad here.

How the Supreme Court has upended the administrative wall of separation
Chris has also written an edifying new blog explaining a Supreme Court decision today itself that upended 40 years of administrative jurisprudence — stifling the federal government’s ability to effectively serve the American people. Chris eruditely explains how this will affect our work here at FFRF and the separation of state and church.

A great Okla. Supreme Court judgment
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We hailed an Oklahoma Supreme Court ruling barring the nation’s first religious public charter school, against which we filed a case last year.

“The Oklahoma Supreme Court’s decision safeguards public education and upholds the separation of religion and government,” said a statement by us and other groups involved in the suit. “Charter schools are public schools that must be secular and serve all students. … We will continue our efforts to protect public education and religious freedom, including the separation of church and state.”

A temporary abortion rights reprieve
We welcomed as a temporary reprieve a Supreme Court decision to allow hospitals in Idaho to resume performing emergency abortion care under the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act. “Today, the Supreme Court decided that Idaho, for the present, is not allowed to watch pregnant patients die in ER rooms for lack of abortion care, such a small favor to ask,” commented FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor.

Major turning point for transgender rights
And we cautioned that an upcoming U.S. Supreme Court case will likely be a major turning point in the rapidly escalating battle over transgender rights. The Supreme Court announced on Monday that it will be taking up the question of whether Tennessee’s ban on gender affirming care for minors violates the Equal Protection clause of the U.S. Constitution. We anticipate filing a friend-of-the-court brief with the Supreme Court in the case.

Why the personal has never been more political
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The “We Dissent” podcast, which we co-produce, dealt this month with the dire reality of reproductive rights in the post-Dobbs era. FFRF Deputy Legal Director Liz Cavell, Americans United Vice President and Legal Director Rebecca Markert, and American Atheists Vice President for Legal and Policy Alison Gill spoke with reproductive rights advocate and political strategist Maya Rupert about how the fight for reproductive justice is being waged in the wake of Dobbs — and why the personal has never been more political. Tune in here.

Paint over the bible verse!
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Our objection to a bible verse painted on the wall of a Tennessee police department’s building has attracted media attention.

“Words painted on a wall in the Bartlett Police Department have led to a complaint,” says a story for a Memphis TV station. “Posts on social media from the Bartlett Police Department welcome two new employees, but the words behind them are causing a complaint. The Freedom from Religion Foundation, a nonprofit working as a state and church watchdog, based in Wisconsin, sent a letter to Chief of Police Jeff Cox, requesting the department paint over the bible verse.”

The segment goes on to extensively quote FFRF Legal Fellow Hirsh Joshi.

Our pro-choice billboard in Amarillo
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We recently placed a combative digital billboard in Amarillo, Texas, to help counter an anti-abortion campaign commandeering 20 billboards there. The message on the display reads: “Keep your theology OFF my biology.” FFRF was contacted by a representative of local groups such as the Reproductive Freedom Alliance to add its voice to counter the anti-abortion blitz.

Black atheism
On our Facebook Live “Ask An Atheist” feature this week, Hirsh Joshi and FFRF Governmental Affairs Director Ryan Dudley spoke with Mandisa Thomas, founder and president of Black Nonbelievers, about the current landscape of Black voices in the atheist community. The program also heard compelling testimonials from those who have found a sense of belonging through Black Nonbelievers.

Why the theater is religion for some freethinkers
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After FFRF Senior Counsel Sam Grover discussed on Freethought Radio the Louisiana lawsuit we have filed, Tony-nominated Broadway producer, director and theater owner Eric Krebs movingly explained to show co-hosts Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor why the theater is his religion.

Ten Commandments ‘theocrat’ and ‘secularist’
FFRF Action Fund (our lobbying arm) has as its “Secularist of the Week” Brian Tyler Cohen, the popular progressive political commentator, for denouncing the bill our “Theocrat of the Week” has signed into law. Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry is forcing the Ten Commandments into every public school classroom throughout the state. Cohen’s work ensures that more and more people are made aware of the seemingly constant Christian nationalist developments coming from the Right — such as Landry’s recent theocratic move in Louisiana.

Landry can hypocritically cite the Ten Commandments all that he wants. However, he and his ilk can’t impose them on the country — which is why we resist with your help such attempts tooth and nail week after week.

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One Response

  1. This is the most blatant disregard of our rights in my lifetime that I can remember. Please fight this with everything we have! OK and LA must not succeed with this. It’s all part of the Christian nationalist agenda and project I blitz among other appalling movements!

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