More New York Fire Departments Are Now Wishing Jesus a Happy Birthday

People always argue that groups like the Freedom From Religion Foundation go after “petty” church/state separation cases, and they should just let some things slide.

Like New York’s Utica Fire Department Station 4 with a “Happy Birthday Jesus” sign outside its building. What’s the harm, right?

Well, not only are they selling shirts promoting Christianity, other fire departments are now following their lead, like the Whitesboro Fire Department (also in NY):



[Read more…]

New York Fire Department is Now Selling “Happy Birthday Jesus” T-Shirts

Earlier this week, we saw New York’s Utica Fire Department Station 4 promoting Christianity with a sign outside the firehouse reading “Happy Birthday Jesus.”

Besides the sign just looking and sounding childish, you could make the argument that it’s an illegal promotion of a single faith. That’s what the Freedom From Religion Foundation said in a letter.

The sign at Fire Station 4 explicitly invokes the name Jesus, an exclusively Christian god, and makes a direct statement in support of that deity… This is precisely the sort of religious endorsement prohibited by the Establishment Clause.

The department could, in theory, put up displays of other groups to remain neutral, but they were better off just removing the sign or handing it off to a church.

So what did the department choose to do?

[Read more…]

Atheist Group Sues Wisconsin Officials for Violating Open Records Law

Back in July, the Freedom From Religion Foundation filed an open records request with Wisconsin state officials asking how they planned to implement the law following the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling.

[Plaintiff and FFRF attorney Patrick] Elliott made a series of open records requests of the Office of the Commissioner after a reported agency decision that Wisconsin’s contraceptive mandate, known as the Contraceptive Equity Law, would no longer be enforced because it was preempted by the June 30 Hobby Lobby ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.

FFRF and many other observers disagreed, since the Religious Freedom Restoration Act under which the ruling was decided applies only to the federal government, not states.

Elliott asked for specific documents regarding how state officials communicated with each other regarding contraceptive coverage.

What he eventually got back were just a handful of documents that didn’t even come close to fulfilling the whole request. That’s illegal, says FFRF, and they’re suing over this lack of transparency:

[Read more…]

After Investigation, Georgia University Warns Professor Not to Preach Creationism Again or He Will Be Fired

Back in October, a group of science advocates including Jerry Coyne and Richard Dawkins, with the help of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, wrote a letter to Georgia Southern University.

It turned out that History professor Dr. Emerson T. McMullen (below) was teaching courses in which he advocated Creationism.



[Read more…]

Atheists Sue Franklin County (Indiana) Over Nativity Scene on Courthouse Grounds

Last week, I mentioned that there was a Nativity Scene in Brookville, Indiana that has been up for over 50 years, despite warning letters (over the course of several years) from the Freedom From Religion Foundation to take it down.

Here are the only details that matter: The display is owned by the Town of Brookville and sits on the grounds of the Franklin County Courthouse.



[Read more…]