A week to remember

A week to remember August 24, 2018

It’s been quite a week in American politics! No matter where you stand on the political spectrum, it was a bad week for the president. His former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, was found guilty of eight felonies, and his former attorney, Michael Cohen, implicated the president in a campaign finance violation. And it appears there are many other shoes to drop before this story is fully played out.

It’s been quite a week at FFRF, too, but in a good way! Read on . . .

Kissimmee, I’m a freethinker!
Hugs all around as the city of Kissimmee, Fla., has announced it’s issuing a “corrected proclamation for 40 days of celebration of life, love and family” after FFRF and the ACLU of Florida got involved. The original proclamation “invite[s] all residents to join them in this celebration by praying.” A call to prayer event for Aug. 21 was also announced with the appearance of city sponsorship or endorsement.

The ACLU of Florida and its Central Florida Chapter, along with FFRF’s chapter, the Central Florida Freethought Community, have also announced they will be presenting a proclamation and presentation on the importance of the Establishment Clause and the separation of state and church to the city commission on Sept. 4.

FFRF helps remove unsightly plaque
We earned another big victory this week after a Ten Commandments plaque was removed from Murphy Park in Steubenville, Ohio.

FFRF contacted City Manager Jim Mavromatis on Aug. 10 after receiving a complaint from a city resident who objected to the display on government property. The complainant has subsequently reported that the plaque has been moved across the street to church property.

Complain, contact, win. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Where’s that Catholic guilt?

FFRF’s Director of Strategic Response Andrew Seidel has been busy since the Pennsylvania grand jury report came out on Aug. 14. Last week, he wrote a blog posted on FFRF’s Freethought Now! site, “It’s time to quit the Catholic Church.”

This week, he wrote an op-ed piece for The Capital Times in Madison, Wis., titled, “Bishop Morlino’s abuse response showcases the church’s true problem: Itself.” Morlino, of the Diocese of Madison, has said that there is a “homosexual subculture” within the Catholic Church and also, appallingly, tied homosexuality to pedophilia.

Seidel takes Morlino to task over his incredibly incorrect assertions.

“Morlino’s callous ignorance makes it that much more difficult to fix the real problem: the Catholic Church,” Seidel writes. “A group of fallible, celibate men have nearly unlimited power over a community of people who have been drilled toward credulity their whole lives. This is a recipe not only for abuse, but for covering up that abuse.”

And Andrew, along with FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor, also appear on this week’s “Ask an Atheist” YouTube program on why it’s time to quit the Catholic Church. Anie Laurie wrote the first nonfiction book documenting such abuse, Betrayal of Trust: Clergy Abuse of Children (1988), published by FFRF.

This may be preaching to the nonreligious choir, but can I get a “hallelujah”?

Just say ‘no’ to abstinence program
FFRF is placing pressure on the school board in Santa Rosa County to replace its abstinence-only sex education program.

Despite the district’s assurance to the contrary, FFRF has confirmed that the curriculum is, in fact, abstinence-only. The whole curriculum is hard to swallow. It spits out rubbish, claiming, for example, that abstinence is not only listed as the preferred method of preventing spread of STDs, but the only method. And the phrase “birth control” is only mentioned once — referenced negatively as a financial consequence of premarital sex. Contraceptives are not mentioned anywhere else in the curriculum.

Help us help everyone! Get involved!
Here at FFRF, it’s no secret that we’ve been strongly opposed to the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh as a potential Supreme Court justice. With his confirmation hearings closing in, we have asked you members in states with some crucial swing senators to help us in opposing him, because every landmark case protecting the rights of nonreligious Americans is at risk. And to all of our FFRF members, be ready to receive a nationwide Action Alert next week on this topic.

We’ve also asked our Pennsylvania members to help protect children from the abuse of Catholic clergy members by attending a protest on Aug. 29 at 1 p.m. in the town of Bellefonte. We also asked them to directly email state Sen. Jake Corman, who appears to be siding with the church over the children.

Listen up!
Freethought Radio this week includes an interview with educator and author Sikivu Hutchinson, founder of Black Skeptics of Los Angeles (BSLA), who describes the four new winners of FFRF’s and BSLA’s “Catherine Fahringer Memorial Student Scholarships” for students of color. (Read their essays in the upcoming September issue of Freethought Today!) Plus, we travel back in time to 2006, during Freethought Radio’s first year of broadcast, to listen to our first interview with Ron Reagan, the original “Unabashed Atheist.”

Conventional wisdom
Where can you hear directly from such notable thinkers, writers, entertainers and activists such as Salman Rushdie, Cecile Richards, Adam Savage, Julia Sweeney, John de Lancie and U.S. Rep. Jared Huffman? Why, FFRF’s annual national convention, of course! Please join us in San Francisco the weekend of Nov. 2-4.

As we have cautioned, if you haven’t already, get your rooms now or take a chance on being left out. The convention site is the Hyatt Regency, 5 Embarcadero Center. Make your reservations directly: 1-888-421-1442 and use the code “Freedom From Religion Foundation.” Or reserve rooms directly at bit.ly/FFRF2018

Well, that wraps up another successful week at FFRF. And, as always, we thank you for your membership in FFRF. We do all of this for you and we can’t do it without you!

PJ Slinger
Freethought Today editor

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