New on AlterNet: Harassment of Church-State Plaintiffs

My latest column is now up on AlterNet, Outrageous Attacks on Supporters of Church-State Separation: Death Threats, Murdered Pets, and Vandalized Property. In it, I report on the campaigns of harassment, persecution, and even criminal violence that are all too often waged against First Amendment advocates in religious areas of the country. Read the excerpt below, then click through to see the rest:

As often happens in these cases, FFRF plaintiffs asked to have their identities concealed because they feared harassment and retaliation from the community. It was a well-founded fear, since some of them had already been receiving threats on social media. On a Facebook page supporting the New Kensington school, one person encouraged others to “slam the shit out of the bitch” who filed the lawsuit. Another commenter asked, “Have the families involved in the lawsuit been identified? I cannot believe anyone living in the community would participate in such a worthless cause. Someone needs to send that group back to Wisconsin with several black eyes!”

Because of threats like this, the court granted the request for anonymity, finding that “this basis upon which the Does fear disclosure is substantial and that there is a substantial public interest in ensuring that litigants not face such retribution in their attempt to seek redress for what they view as a Constitutional violation, a pure legal issue.” In response, Republican state representative Tim Krieger filed a bill… that would eliminate the right of plaintiffs to sue anonymously over religious symbols on public property.

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