How the FFRF *Really* Operates

Dan Casey of The Roanoke Times wrote an article that is very entertaining if you take it sarcastically… and infuriating if you think he’s being serious.

It’s a fictional account of what goes on behind-the-scenes at the Freedom From Religion Foundation:

“Next we’ll hear from the atheist in charge of the Blue Ridge Mountains area. Lucifer — er, I meant Luke — can you give us a status report?”

“Happy to, madam chairwoman,” says Luke.

“As you know, we’ve been in a fierce court battle with the Giles County School Board over the hanging of the Ten Commandments in their high school. That’s been going on for about 18 months now.

A board member raises his hand. “Can the treasurer tell us how much money we raked in from this effort?”

“Sure,” the treasurer replies. “Let see. Here it is: $1,486,369. Most of it came from California.”

“Very nice,” the chairwoman says. “Any more from the Blue Ridge?”

“The issue has generated newspaper stories in Richmond and Roanoke, but it’s taken a back seat to another much bigger one in Pittsylvania, uranium mining. That’s getting most of the attention.”

Another board member raises her hand.

“And how much have we raised from this one?”

The treasurer shuffles through his papers. “Let’s see — so far, $84,791. And it’s not even our case. This one is totally the ACLU.”

Of course, the FFRF is hardly rolling in dough. Most of their donations go right back into activism, whether that means putting ads in newspapers, putting up new billboards, or adding to their already-swamped legal team. Seriously, I’ve visited their offices. It’s a cozy place…

FFRF headquarters in Madison, Wisconsin (via Flickr)

Compare that to (just to name one religious group’s headquarters) the Focus on the Family headquarters:

Focus on the Family headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colorado (David Shankbone – Colorado Independent)

Yep. FFRF, those greedy bastards.

Casey’s column (even if it’s joking) wrongly suggests that FFRF does what they do for money and not out of respect for the principle of church/state separation. FFRF believes that religion ought to be a private matter, not a government one. That’s the only reason they file their lawsuits, even if some of them may seem petty to the public.

***Update***: FFRF’s Andrew Seidel has responded to the piece here — I love this part:

Here is what I imagine was going through Mr. Casey’s head as he wrote [Warning: delving into the imaginary mental wanderings of people can be dangerous and often immature. Read on at your own risk.]:

“I really don’t like that nasty FFRF. It goes around helping local people stop violations of the Constitution. How will I ever know that my god is real if my leaders don’t mix him into the government? And what kind of people go around upholding the Constitution and advocating for the rights of minorities? Who do they think they are telling us, the Christian majority, that the law applies to us too? The gall of this cabal, sitting around thinking up nefarious ways of convincing courts to enforce the law. (Oooh, I’m a poet!) And then, believe it or not, courts actually agreeing that the law should be enforced!”


About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • GodlessPoutine

    I’m a member of the FFRF.  I strongly suggest supporting them!

    I can remember contacting them for the first time on their “Contact Us” form about whether they were ever planning to put “Freethought Today” out in Kindle form.  I was surprised to see a response from Dan Barker himself.  Another time I used the same form to inform them about there being a problem with one of the podcasts and who should respond but Annie Laurie herself on e-mail.  Small operation, but that’s service!  They really do put everything back into their activism.

  • 1000 Needles

    It’s like fan-fiction for law-illiterate Christians. I bet Jesus shows up in chapter two and reconverts Dan Barker with a wrestling move.

  • Isilzha

    Wait…this was printed as a NEWSPAPER article.  He’s a columnist??  The paper should fire him for something like this.

  • http://anonatheist.wordpress.com/ Mike Hunt

    Another ffrf member here too!  I wish I could support them more financially, they disclose their financials and they are definitely not getting rich off our contributions.

  • http://chaoskeptic.blogspot.com Rev. Ouabache

    I love the fact that their headquarters is called Freethought Hall. It reminds me of the Hall of Justice from DC Comics. I expect Logic Man and Reason Woman to fly from the rooftop to go beat up Dr. Dogma.

  • http://www.facebook.com/keithacollyer Keith Collyer

    oh, come on, it’s such obvious satire and, as such things go, quite witty. I admit the corners of my mouth twitched upwards a couple of times. Really not worth getting worked up over. I do recommend reading the comments, they make it clear that some people (albeit more extreme christians) have taken it the exact opposite way, as if it supports atheists

    • Wintermute472002

      Yeah, nothing’s funnier than sticking it to a minority that you disagree with! I can’t wait for him to right a column about those uppity minorities plotting to steal our jobs and have sex with all the white women!

  • http://twitter.com/edreese Ed Reese

    I looked at some of his other columns, and I seriously doubt this was a serious column. And all it would take to ascertain that is five minutes of research. And if it is satire – as it so clearly appears to be – get ready for his email to be flooded with a whole lot of messages that just proves again how humorless us atheists can be.

  • phantomreader42

    Someone should publish an account of Dan Casey’s typical day, with him beating up homeless people, robbing children, and urinating in public water supplies.  If he can make shit up about other people, he has no grounds to object when the same tactic is used against him.  

    • Renshia

       Yeah, that’ll show em. Let’s drive by his office and stick our tongues out at him too.

  • Wintermute472002

    Whatever spirit this was written in, I have to admit, it really pisses me off a lot. I know it’s silly, and I shouldn’t get bent out of shape about it, but seriously, this asshole in the majority is pissing down atheists for daring to assert their Constitutional rights. As if the majority of nonbelievers wouldn’t be perfectly content to avoid this kind of thing if the religious folks would just stop forcing their beliefs onto everybody else.

    I’m surprised at how angry I am about this. Maybe I’m just cranky.

    • newavocation

      In a way it’s an indication that FFRF is making a real difference. The cross bearers are getting cross! Also maybe FFRF needs to setup a pissed off fund to help us vent!

  • http://twitter.com/the_ewan Ewan

    Surely this has got to be an attempt at a joke in the same vein as the Hemant’s baby eating ‘jokes’?

  • UnNews

    And how many billions upon billions upon billions has the “christian” churches taken in?

  • UnNews

    A priest, a pedophile and a rapist walk in to a bar.  And he orders a drink.

    • Lurker111

       A Shirley Temple?

  • Renshia

    Damn I thought it was as funny as the priest joke.

    Some people need to lighten up a bit, or smoke some pot, or both.

  • http://etratio.blogspot.com/ linford86

    This is actually part of a much broader situation currently occuring in Southwest Virginia. Last year, the FFRF went to litigation with Giles County schools over having the Ten Commandments in the classroom. This year, the Roanoke Board of Supervisors is probably going to be sued for having a sectarian prayer at their official meetings. I’ve been quasi-involved with both, and I’ve been extensively blogging about the situation currently happening in Roanoke. Please check out my three part series starting here:  http://etratio.blogspot.com/2012/07/adventures-in-prayer-land-part-1.html

  • JamesEmery

    I’m a native Roanoker.  It’s Dan.  It’s satire.  It’s what he does, whether it’s particularly GOOD satire or not.

    Pity he refuses to write down to the LCD, though. Most of Roanoke probably won’t get it.

    • Wintermute472002

       From my perspective, though, there’s not a lot of value in satire that punches down. It’s easy for the people in power to slam those without–even if all the atheists who read this column were outraged and canceled their subscriptions, do you really think the paper would fold as long as they have a healthy Christian readership which thought it was perfectly fine?

      To me, it just seems like bullying 101. Make your harassment look like it’s just joking so that when someone cries offense, you can mutter about how you were just kidding, and they shouldn’t take it so seriously.

  • http://twitter.com/changethetopic Change The Topic

    Hi, I just dropped in to steal your photo of Focus on the Family’s building. Keep fighting the good fight.

  • Sir Real

    Mr. Casey’s whinning is so bad it’s almost lugubrious.  Why doesn’t he grow up and face the truth that all religions are superstitions.  FFRF is there to ensure that there is a true seperation of church and state and that my rights and everyone else’s isn’t infringe upon.


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