Weekly Wrap: We have literally been all over the place

By Amitabh Pal
Communications Director
Freedom From Religion Foundation

We at the Freedom From Religion Foundation have literally been all over the place this week.

FFRF Co-President Dan Barker has been making waves in Honduras. With the help of well-connected freethought groups in the Central American nation, he has been doing the media circuit, spreading the secular message to everyone from top talk show hosts to brave newspaper editors.

His next stop: Guatemala!

Even with Dan out of the country, we’ve put ourselves in a good place to deal with national developments.

Dan Barker with Johnny Lagos, the courageous editor of the popular El Libertador, a national Honduran monthly. 

Our arch-nemesis in trouble
So when news broke about FFRF arch-nemesis (and Senate candidate) Roy Moore allegedly engaging in sexual misconduct, we responded right away. Moore is someone we’ve tussled with repeatedly (read here for a very recent example, and so we can’t say we’re surprised to see him in trouble.

Awful bills and appointees
Something we’ve kept an unrelenting watch on nationally is the effort to repeal the Johnson Amendment banning church electioneering. That’s why when the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation revealed that this would cost the American taxpayer $2.1 billion over a decade in lost revenue, we were immediately ready to highlight this.

We have been asking for your help in defending the Johnson Amendment keeping nonprofits nonpartisan. If you haven’t yet contacted your member of Congress this week, we make it so easy.

And when that very same tax bill included a stealthy religiously motivated assault on women’s rights by giving the “unborn” a college savings tax break, we were able to rush a response.

“Ever since Inauguration Day, President Trump has promised the world to the Religious Right in response to its steadfast support for his presidential campaign,” we wrote. “The ‘unborn’ language is yet another sop that the Republican Party is throwing to its base.”

The Trump administration’s attack on secular values is multipronged. As soon as we heard through the grapevine about a particularly horrible appointee, FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor penned a sharp blog.

“There will be a lot more ‘concerned women’ in America if Trump’s purported pick for women’s ambassador of global affairs at the State Department is confirmed,” she wrote. “Penny Nance, Trump’s rumored choice, happens to be president and CEO of Concerned Women for America, a virulently anti-feminist, anti-abortion organization whose purpose is to “bring Biblical principles into all levels of public policy.”

Celebrating a secular member of Congress…
On a more positive note, we sang hosannas (and asked you to do as well) to a member of Congress who came out as a humanist. “Join us in saluting California Rep. Jared Huffman for his courage in coming out as a religious ‘None’ and for representing freethinkers in Congress!” we requested you.

… and commemorating Veterans Day
We also expressed our appreciation for our veterans (including atheists in foxholes) on this Veterans Day weekend.

Ongoing legal battles
FFRF’s ongoing legal battles required our presence, too.

Our victorious lawsuit against the Chino Valley Unified School District board for regularly praying has entered a new phase. This week, the case was heard before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Pasadena, Calif. FFRF is asking the appeals court to sustain the lower court ruling in its favor. Watch attorney David Kaloyanides’ oral argument on our behalf.

Our presence in our home state
Obviously, we are always on watch in our home state. We notched a sweet victory in Wisconsin this week. And we expressed our alarm when our state Legislature joined a long line of statehouses calling for a constitutional convention.

Play, don’t pray
We made a big splash in a Texas town that has an (in)famous name: Corpus Christi. A football game there was overtly religious — and we made clear to the school district that we weren’t going to stand for it.

“A call to the Freedom From Religion Foundation leaves little doubt of the group’s stance on religion in public school,” reported the local TV station. “The FFRF says the group will wait a few weeks before contacting the district’s counsel.  If CCISD doesn’t respond the FFRF says a lawsuit is possible.”

You bet.

In fact, during football season, complaints about prayers at games takes up a lot of our attention. Watch FFRF Legal Fellow Chris Line briefly chat about the issue in our mini-sized Newsbite segment. And we talk about the subject at a bit more length in our Facebook Live feature.


Simultaneously present everywhere
And we were simultaneously present everywhere from Texas (again) and Georgia to Illinois and Arkansas, expressing our objections to everything from forced Pledges of Allegiance and Christian band music to religious mentorship programs and biblical posters.

This preternatural ability to be in so many places at the same time was made possible only due to your support and generosity.

P.S. On our radio show this week, we talk about football with Chris, and discuss with investigative journalist Katherine Stewart a great article of hers in the recent American Prospect about the stealth threat of religious charters to public schools.

 

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