We at the Freedom From Religion Foundation are off to a flying start — literally — in 2019.
Our “A” flag is proudly flying over Somersworth, a New Hampshire town.
“An explicitly nonreligious symbol will fly above an explicitly religious one for the next nine days downtown,” writes the local paper. “Mayor Dana Hilliard and city resident Richard Gagnon hoisted the Freedom From Religion flag on Wednesday at Citizens Place, a small traffic island next to Somersworth City Hall and home to a Ten Commandments monument. The two flag poles can be used to fly flags for various groups and events. Gagnon said the raising of the flag is ‘a celebration of free thought.’”
Another New Year cause for merry-making is a constitutional victory we obtained in North Carolina when we ensured an end to a public school’s unconstitutional advertising of weekly religious services at a local church. “The church street sign has been removed and the signs that are stored in the gym have been completely covered,” the school district’s representative assured us.
Thanks for the New Year’s gift, Tar Heel State!
We also obtained a partial win in Missouri — and that’s not stopping us from pressing for more.“The Freedom from Religion Foundation sent a letter to Camden County regarding two religious depictions allegedly on display in the Camden County Courthouse,” a TV station reports. “According to the Wisconsin-based organization, it took issue with a bible verse and a painting of a cross. The organization told ABC 17 News Thursday it learned county officials moved the bible verse into a private office. The foundation said it is glad that item was moved, but its position on the painting remains unchanged. ‘This is not the real “9/11 cross” that once stood at Ground Zero and therefore any court case governing the constitutionality of that specific historical artifact is inapplicable,’ [FFRF Legal Fellow] Colin McNamara said.”
Stop the proselytizing
The coming week, we’re facing off against the Todd Becker Foundation, a Christian ministry that travels throughout the Midwest putting on assemblies in public schools. We’re calling on an Iowa public school to cancel an unconstitutional religious assembly that the group is organizing there next Wednesday, since on its website the organization says that its purpose is to “draw young people into a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ.”
A truly captive audience
Religion in prisons has been in the news lately, and FFRF Director of Strategic Response Andrew Seidel has an insightful blog on the phenomenon.
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“Religion does not make people behave more morally — and religious outfits are simply using the prison system to pressure a vulnerable population into following their particular brand,” he concludes. “We need to recognize this reality, instead of falling for falsehoods about the redemptive power of religion.”
Watch Julia Sweeney and Leighann Lord on ‘Freethought Matters’
Our television and radio programming are off to a running start in 2019. On our national “Freethought Matters” show, FFRF Co-Presidents Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor interview comedian Leighann Lord, who entertained those of us attending the FFRF national convention last year in San Francisco. Check out the listings here to see the times and stations for your area. And if you aren’t able to view it on air, you can catch it online here. For our home base viewers in Madison, Wis., we have a fresh interview with one of our all-time favorites, SNL alum, comedian, honorary FFRF director and actress Julia Sweeney, broadcasting on Channel 3 at 11 p.m. Sunday. (This program will go online later this year.)
On our radio show this week, Dan and Annie Laurie talk with Nigerian activist and scholar Leo Igwe about an upcoming humanist convention in his country’s capital and about threats nonbelievers face in that nation. Legal Director Rebecca Markert also discusses a recent legal triumph: The full bench of the 9th U.S. Circuit Federal Court of Appeals refused to rehear our victory that got declared unconstitutional the prayerful practices of the Chino Hills (Calif.) School Board — a nice affirmation upon which to end 2018!
We’re hoping that this court action is a harbinger of things to come for us and secularism in 2019. A couple of our pending cases are already getting attention in outlets such as The Economist and Rewire.Our achievements — both past and future — are possible only with your generous support. Happy New Year, everyone!