So many landmarks!

So many landmarks! May 4, 2018

So many landmarks!
We at the Freedom From Religion Foundation have been involved in a lot of landmark moments lately.

We’re finally in Congress!
During a recent lobbying trip to Washington, D.C., FFRF Staff Attorneys Patrick Elliott and Andrew Seidel were “present at the creation” of the first freethinking group in our nation’s legislative history. At a Secular Coalition dinner, California Rep. Jared Huffman announced the formation of the Congressional Freethought Caucus, which already has half a dozen members of Congress signed on (including FFRF’s hometown representative, Mark Pocan). Watch Patrick and Andrew talk about it — and the great secular work they accomplished during their visit to Capitol Hill.

National Day of Reason, anyone?
Not surprisingly, Huffman has taken the lead in trying to get a landmark resolution passed through Congress: a measure celebrating the National Day of Reason. The commemoration aims to promote “public policy that is based on reason and logic instead of politics and ideology.” Ask your member of Congress to support it for next year.

Read this decision
Huffman’s move is partly a response to the unconstitutional National Day of Prayer, which a few years ago resulted in a landmark decision in a case that FFRF filed against the observance. U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb ruled that “because the nature of prayer is so personal and can have such a powerful effect on a community that the government may not use its authority to try to influence an individual’s decision whether and when to pray.” The decision was later reversed on “standing,” but FFRF’s fight continues. Read excerpts from the historic judgment here.

Our blessing for N.J. taxpayers
A truly landmark case we recently triumphed in stopped state funding of church repair in New Jersey, saving taxpayers of that state untold millions. FFRF Staff Attorney Elizabeth Cavell and lawsuit co-plaintiff David Steketee talk about the 7-0 victory before the state Supreme Court on our radio show this week.

A badge for the Boy Scouts
We hope that the scouts will soon engage in a landmark inclusive step. Even as they are undergoing a structural and nomenclature overhaul to welcome girls, they’re still unwelcoming of a marginalized group: nonbelievers. To prod them along and to provide nonbelieving youth some comfort, we have a special merit badge of our own. Check it out!

Are graduation prayers constitutional?
A landmark is soon coming up for a slightly older age group than scouts: graduation. FFRF Legal Director Rebecca Markert and FFRF attorneys Elizabeth Cavell and Ryan Jayne chat about the constitutionality of graduation prayer (as well as the National Day of Prayer) on our “Ask An Atheist” Facebook Live Feature. Watch the provocative discussion here.

An executive order full of hooey
President Trump pretended he issued a landmark executive order on the occasion of the National Day of Prayer, but it was a bunch of hooey, as we pointed out. However, we’ll be watching like a hawk to make sure that the “Establishment of a White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative” doesn’t cause any real damage, as we did with the fake repeal of the Johnson Amendment last year.

What’s with the Billy Graham fetish?
Another dubious “landmark” observance that is being pushed around the country is Billy Graham Day, on Nov. 7 in honor of his birthday. We’re admonishing a Tennessee school district that such a move would be unconstitutional and inappropriate.

National and local landmark triumphs
Military folks achieved a landmark victory in Congress this week when an insidious bill to create a school voucher scheme for students from military families was nixed in Congress, thanks to lobbying by FFRF and other secular groups. One more for our side!

And FFRF achieved a landmark local win in Indiana when a town there reversed itself on funding a church expansion, to the tune of $40,000-plus, after receiving a stern missive from us. See, these letters have an effect!

Plus, our usual work
In the midst of all these landmarks, we carried on our usual work. We cautioned our hometown school district against partnering with a local church. We challenged a ridiculous South Florida event in which citizens pulled up and then uniformed police prayed over and for them “kind of like the drive-through at McDonalds,” to quote the Miami Herald. We expressed our concern over a Minnesota city’s continuous endorsement of Christianity. And we warned a Texas school district about a troubling clerical tie-up.

Tune in to our TV show
FFRF Co-Presidents Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor interview provocateur extraordinaire Lucien Greaves of the Satanic Temple on our “Freethought Matters television show this week, which you can watch Sunday at 11 p.m. on Channel 3 in the Madison, Wis.-area or Monday afternoon onward on our YouTube channel. Our interview last week with Candace Gorham, author of “The Ebony Exodus Project: Why Some Black Women Are Walking Out on Religion,” is available there.

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