Weekly Wrap: Having Solstice fun as we advocate

Many folks may be taking it easy this time of the year, but we at the Freedom From Religion Foundation are working as hard — if not harder.

Sure, we’ve been having some fun, too. On Wednesday, we had a public celebration of the Winter Solstice here at the office. A number of Madison, Wis.-area members showed up to munch on goodies and to hear Susan Hofer and FFRF’s very own Dan Barker sing freethinkingly to rejoice in the advent of the solstice. Watch it here, and, in a more concise bite-sized form, here.


We gift Trump a lump of coal
Yesterday, on the day of the Winter Solstice, FFRF took out a full-page, colorful ad in the New York Times. It awarded a lump of coal to President Trump and asked secular-minded citizens to support it in the year ahead.

Our accomplishments & challenges
To discuss the challenges in the coming year and our accomplishments (so many!) in the year almost gone by, Dan was interviewed on FFRF’s hometown community radio station.

Challenging religion in the public space
One of the things that keeps us busy in December is the insistence of religious types to impose their belief on the public sphere. With the help of our ever-vigilant members, we’ve been challenging them all over the country — and getting noticed in the process.

“Visitors Monday to the Iowa Capitol had two new exhibits to view along with the usual array of murals, statues and displays — a Nativity scene with the baby Jesus and a separate depiction of the Bill of Rights featuring some of the Founding Fathers and the Statue of Liberty,” reports the Sioux City paper. “The Freedom From Religion Foundation installed a Bill of Rights display, depicting Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and the Statue of Liberty honoring the document placed in a manger with a sign stating: ‘… there can be no religious freedom without the freedom to dissent. Keep religion and government separate!’”

In a similar spirit, we returned to South Bend, Ind., and to Shelton, Conn., where we won a case early this year allowing us access to the city parks.

Proudly restoring our banner
In another, prominent place where we’ve made our presence felt, the response among some wasn’t cordial. Our freethinking banner was vandalized on the grounds of the Washington state Capitol building in Olympia, but thanks to the diligence of our local chapter President Darrell Barker (brother of Dan), it was quickly displaying its proud freethinking message again.


We talk about the real reason for the season on our radio show this week. We also interview FFRF Legal Fellow Colin McNamara about religious instruction in Wisconsin prisons and end on a cheery note with irreverent solstice music.Nativity objections
Where we weren’t putting up our freethinking message as a counter, we still were vociferously objecting to nativity displays on public property.Michigan’s Oscoda township “finds itself on the receiving end of a letter from the Freedom From Religion Foundation demanding that they remove a nativity scene from the grounds of the township hall,” writes Ed Brayton on his secular blog. “The display stands on its own, without any secular symbols to dilute the message of endorsement.”

We challenged similar nativity scenes in a small Wisconsin town and in Wyoming. But what really left us aghast was a weeklong official live nativity re-enactment by a Tennessee county, complete with a donkey and a bunch of goats. Talk about chewing up the scenery.


A season of overpious politicians
When nativity scenes weren’t making things hectic for us, it was overpious politicians, who feel the need to express their religiosity especially at this time of the year. The Trump administration was up to its usual tricks, and we raised a ruckus over a bunch of words proscribed at the CDC. FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor tweaked sanctimonious public officials in Texas and Wisconsin. We also admonished the Arkansas governor for exhibiting his piety on official social media. We even urged feminist N.Y. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand to reassess the bible and grasp that it’s even more sexist than her bête noire Donald Trump.Reason to celebrate!
But not to worry. Try as they might, the pious crowd is fighting a losing battle. American society is becoming increasingly secular, a new Pew study confirms. “Little by little, Americans are letting go of their Sunday school indoctrination and starting to apply critical reasoning skills to religious claims,” we write.What could be better news than that? On that note, Happy Winter Solstice Greetings to our members, who finance and support our variety of rapid-response activities this season and all other seasons.

P.S. Annie Laurie pays a touching tribute in a blog today to recently deceased reproductive rights champion Janet Benshoof.

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