Weekly Wrap: We win even when it seems we aren’t

By Amitabh Pal
Communications Director
Freedom From Religion Foundation

At the Freedom From Religion Foundation, we often are winning even when it doesn’t seem to be the case.

Take our suit against a West Virginia county for its “Bible in the Schools” classes in its public schools. If you read the Washington Post story on the latest judicial verdict in the case, you may think it is some kind of a loss for us.

“A judge has dismissed a federal lawsuit against a West Virginia public school system over its 75-year practice of putting children in Bible classes,” the paper writes. “The Bluefield Daily Telegraph reports the court’s ruling Tuesday was based on Mercer County’s decision in May to suspend its Bible in the Schools program. The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation Inc. filed suit in January on behalf of two parents of children who either attended or would attend Mercer County schools.”

Actually, it represents a victory for our side, since our lawsuit persuaded the Mercer County schools to drop (for now) egregiously religious classes! We aren’t satisfied the school district won’t be back with its unconstitutional course and may appeal to seek such assurances, but we’re winning. FFRF Senior Counsel Patrick Elliott explains it all in our mini-sized Newsbite segment.


Being noticed by a flagship publication
Similarly, when the conservative flagship publication National Review did a piece on our successful suit against Lehigh County in Pennsylvania for a very Christian seal, you might think we’d come out on the losing end. But our point of view was duly noted, since the judge ruled in our favor:

“FFRF Senior Counsel Patrick Elliott says via email that any claim that the seal’s cross is related to the history of the county is unfounded. ‘Traditions that violate the United States Constitution should not continue, he maintains.’”

We’ll win with your help
Another instance where it may seem that we’re losing but we’re hopeful we’ll prevail is the attempted congressional repeal of the Johnson Amendment. The House just revoked this ban on church politicking, but with your help, we’ll stall the effort in the senate!

Similarly, with your support, we’ll stymie a Department of Health and Human Services effort to dole out even more money to churches through the faith-based initiatives program. Take a minute to make a difference.

Staving off defeat
In yet another example, a Florida city is futilely attempting to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. FFRF and the American Humanist Association triumphed over the summer in a case concerning a massive cross in a public park in Pensacola. The city has inexplicably decided to appeal, and this week we filed our brief before the appellate court.

“It’s disturbing that Pensacola city officials are determined to be in the wrong,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “Their flagrant breach of the constitutional wall of separation sends an unconscionable message that non-Christian citizens are second class.”

Way beyond a loser
Roy Moore is a guy for whom “loser” would be too charitable. After yet another revelation of his sexual misconduct, Annie Laurie wrote a scathing blog, “Beware pious politicians; the moral of immoral Roy Moore.” “Who, Mr. Moore, is guilty of committing heinous crimes against nature?” she asked.

Our Winter Solstice sale
Win or lose, we like to have fun — and share the spirit with you. We’ve launched our Winter Solstice sale with a whole line of freethinking goodies for you to browse and buy. Take a look.

Spreading the freethought message in Central America…
Our Co-President Dan Barker was busy in Central America last week. He gave two two-hour talks in Tegucigalpa (Honduras’ capital) and a speech in Guatemala at the Cultural Arts center in Antigua. Dan also engaged in an amazing media whirlwind, obtaining four national TV interviews, one national radio show and two newspaper interviews. He was spreading the winning freethought message deep inside Catholic Latin America.

…and at home
Back here at home, FFRF Director of Strategic Response Andrew Seidel was on the University of Wisconsin campus to give an informative talk about the constitutional wall of separation. “‘The only way we can guarantee the freedom of religion is with a government that is free from religion,’ Seidel said,” the Badger Herald reported.

Riffing off of Andrew’s talk, our Facebook Live discussion was on the same subject, with FFRF attorneys Rebecca Markert and Liz Cavell discussing the meaning of the First Amendment and “religious liberty.”


When Madison’s alternative weekly, the Isthmus, had a long piece about the Boy Scouts admitting girls, we pointed out the one group that is still excluded.

“The recent Isthmus story (‘Boy Scouts go coed,’ Nov. 2-8) on the Boy Scouts was interesting, but neglected an important aspect,” Annie Laurie wrote. “Whatever your views over the Scouts decision to admit girls, nonreligious boys (and now girls) and their families are still not welcome in the organization. With 38 percent of millennials identifying as nonreligious, this stance is not only ugly and discriminatory, but verges on ostrich-head-in-the-sand regressive.”

Win or lose
We fight our battles, win or lose. We called time out on broadcasted prayers at a Louisiana high school, decried the discordance produced by a Georgia band’s overtly Christian theme, asked for the Gideons to be denied access to an Indiana elementary school and insisted that a California town dissociate itself from a prayer breakfast.

Win, lose or in between — all of what we do is made possible only due to your generosity and support.

P.S. On our radio show this week, Dan chats about his Central America trip and we talk about Roy Moore. Then, just in time for some balance at Thanksgiving, we listen to an excerpt from Native American freethinker Brent Michael Davids’ charming talk at the recent FFRF convention.

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