If you’ve never heard the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s Dan Barker tell the story of how he went from preacher to atheist — also detailed in his book Godless — you’ll want to check out this video of a talk he gave at the 2010 Global Atheist Convention in Melbourne, Australia:
It looks like the giant portrait of Jesus that was hanging at Jackson Middle School in Jackson, Ohio is finally coming down for good:
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Three plaintiffs (including two students) filed a lawsuit against that monument with the help of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. They wanted to remove that obvious promotion of Christianity from the school. Initially, though, there was a stumbling block: In order to proceed with the case, the students were not allowed to hide behind pseudonyms. They had to let everyone know who they were.
In other words, instead of proceeding with the case on the basis of merit and defending the Constitution, they had to expose themselves to harassment from their classmates and community. As we saw in Jessica Ahlquist‘s case, people are not very kind to perceived threats against their religious privilege.
There were already threats coming to the third plaintiff (a parent in the district), so a judge agreed the students could use aliases. And all was well and good.
But now, a state representative is disregarding all of that. He wants young atheists to deal with the consequences if they fight back against monuments dedicated to his faith. He has written a bill — House Bill 922 — that would no longer allow those students to remain anonymous:
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In 2010, the Rowlett City Council in Texas changed their prayer policy. They used to have Christian prayers, then the Freedom From Religion Foundation warned them of the repercussions of doing that, so the council opted to go with non-sectarian prayers.
As it turned out, though, since the town is predominantly Christian, those non-sectarian prayers have turned out to be almost all Christian prayers, anyway.
Over the past couple of months, I’ve posted about a controversy at Jackson Middle School in Jackson, Ohio. They had a portrait hanging in their school, not of a student or administrator, but of Jesus:
Not only that — it had a prominent place in the school:
Last month, the Freedom From Religion Foundation and ACLU of Ohio filed a federal lawsuit against the school for its unlawful promotion of religion on behalf of anonymous families who have children in the district.
The school is holding the line that they aren’t promoting religion. Instead, the portrait was put up by a student group so to take it down would be a violation of their rights.