Special weekly report: We oppose bad ideas

By Amit Pal
Director of Communications
Freedom From Religion Foundation

We here at the Freedom From Religion Foundation had our hands full this week opposing bad ideas.

Bad ideas on home base

An awful “big idea” is the notion of a constitutional convention to amend our revered founding document, supposedly to ensure a balanced budget. Our home state of Wisconsin, among others, is trying to make such a gathering an actuality. We made clear why we’re vehemently opposed, and asked our members in the state to help stop it: “If we open the Constitution to amendments, what’s to stop the Religious Right from removing the hallowed separation of state and church?”

Wisconsin is enthralled by another bad concept: school vouchers. When the Wisconsin Senate took up a bill to further shield voucher schools from accountability, we came out strongly against it.

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Other states are also infested

Bad ideas are infesting other states, too. Michigan has an outrageous anti-abortion bill waiting to be signed by the governor that will funnel money from license plates to sham “Crisis Pregnancy Centers.” A Florida law encouraging sermonizing from podiums will make life miserable for the state’s public schools. And an egregious Texas law will allow child-welfare agencies to discriminate.

The bible beat

It’s never a good idea for the police to host Christian events or bible studies, and we asked an intensely devout Alabama police department to immediately stop it.

Another bad notion is assuming that all the residents of an area share a set of religious convictions. An Indiana government office has been making that false assumption in its condolence messages, and we protested that.

Rivaling these two for badness would be a Florida school district’s athletic summer camp hosted by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. No surprises that we find this objectionable.

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Opponents lurk in the shadows

We ran across familiar theo-apologist organizations waiting in opposition. The First Liberty Institute has given bad advice to a Wisconsin city that we’ve asked to take down Christian welcoming signs from governmental property. We had fun poking holes in the institute’s arguments. And we applauded a Pennsylvania school district for ignoring similar bad advice from the same group.

A bad person — and a bad idea

Jerry Falwell Jr. may be a bad person rather than a bad idea, but the proposal that he police himself definitely belongs in the “bad idea” category. We skewered his expected appointment to head a higher education task force.

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Celebration time!

But we’re not all about opposition. We celebrate the right things — such as the wonderful workers we have around the office. One of us, our graphic designer Jake Swenson, is having an extraspecial celebratory moment this weekend. On our FFRF Newsbite this week, he talks about that, and all the important work he has done for us over the last couple of years.

And talking of celebrations, we have a big one planned in mid-July in Dayton, Tenn., for the unveiling of a statue to honor Clarence Darrow. In the run-up to that, we interviewed on our radio show Darrow biographer Andrew Kersten, who will be at the celebration in person.

Opposition, celebration, and everything in between — all that we do is because of your backing and largesse.

P.S. On our “Ask an Atheist” feature this week, we tackle the subject of Islam — and how we’ve handled its growing public presence in the United States.


FFRF is a national nonprofit dedicated to keeping state and church separate and educating about nontheism. For more information and a copy of our paper, Freethought Today, please click here.

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