By Amit Pal
Director of Communications
Freedom From Religion Foundation
If it’s not one thing occupying our attention, it’s another.
For us here at the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the past few days included a legal victory, a judicial appeal, legal letters, statements and blogs on urgent national issues, and a number of alerts to our members. In other words, it was a fairly typical week for us.
Walker is grounded
An atypical moment — and one we derived special delight from — was the cancellation of a Christian cruise our home state governor was shilling for. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was encouraging others to pay to join him on his complimentary summertime cruise, which, he said, would have included “nightly inspirational messages” such as “faith in the public arena” and “faith-driven entrepreneurship.” We had objected that the voyage was defying the First Amendment and the state of Wisconsin’s Code of Ethics, and took pleasure in playing a part in getting Walker’s Christian jaunt scuttled.
We got a hulk of a monument removed
We took even greater pleasure in announcing our court victory that has resulted in a removal of a massive Ten Commandments monument from a Pennsylvania public high school. After four years of a federal legal battle that FFRF and local resident Marie Schaub fought against the school district, reason and our secular Constitution prevailed.
Improving this — our only — world
We also announced with pride several large donations made by Nonbelief Relief, a charitable organization that the FFRF board created. The beneficiaries include the World Food Program, Syrian refugees, a planned African-American museum in Charleston, S.C., and the Women’s Medical Fund, the longest continuously operating abortion rights charity in the nation. Nonbelief Relief is a humanitarian agency for atheists, agnostics, freethinkers and their supporters to improve this world — “our only world.”
We also had to persist in less pleasant — but no less important — tasks such as legal appeals. A New Jersey court issued a disappointing ruling last month that allowed a county to continue funding maintenance and repair of churches — a handout that has cost local taxpayers millions. In order to end this unconstitutional dole, we filed an appeal this week. “The appellate court will recognize the strong constitutional logic of our position,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor.
Gorsuch’s disconcerting views
We continued our incisive analysis and commentary on issues that matter. For the benefit of all of us freethinkers, FFRF Co-President Dan Barker plowed through a highly academic book (his dissertation, actually) by Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch to figure out his views on abortion and end-of-life issues. What he found was disconcerting.
The Trump administration’s religious dogma
What we found disturbing, too, was the Trump administration’s rescinding of transgender rights. Much of the impetus for the move comes from religious dogma, as we emphasized. “FFRF will continue to advocate for the rights and protections of the transgender community against discrimination rooted in religious bigotry,” we emphatically stated.
And along the way, we did a number of other things. We asked a city in Oklahoma to remove a blasphemy ordinance (really!) that it has on the books. We issued several alerts to our members on issues ranging from religious indoctrination bills in Kentucky and Indiana to pending legislation in Alabama that would allow a church to have its own police force. On our radio show this week, we discussed three of our recent legal victories with our heroic local co-plaintiffs. And, as frosting on the cake, we received a ton of media coverage of our recent efforts and triumphs.
We had such a variety of achievements recently — and all of it due to the patronage and munificence of our members and supporters.
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.