Bullying bishops, preachy superintendents, fouling coaches & holy constitutions

Bullying bishops, preachy superintendents, fouling coaches & holy constitutions June 25, 2021

Every week, we at the Freedom From Religion Foundation advance the secular cause bit by bit.

Stop browbeating the President!
We started off this week by excoriating Roman Catholic bishops for their outrageous announcement that they will draft guidance to deny President Biden communion because of his support of abortion rights. It’s time for Catholic progressives with a conscience to “quit the Catholic Church” (as we famously urged in a 2012 New York Times ad) and for the rest of us to raise our voices even more loudly against such religious intrusion.

Child marriage is a secular issue
We commented on another national issue, since it is a secular one: child marriage. Did you know that minors can marry in 45 U.S. states? Many “child bride” situations occur in religious enclaves and stem from biblical notions that girls are property. Every U.S. state, territory and district must pass simple, common sense legislation to eliminate any legal loophole that allows marriage before age 18, we urged.

Making our voice heard in our home state

We keep an especially close eye on our home state, and a recent intervention of ours here made it into the media.

“The Freedom From Religion Foundation is accusing the Wausau School District of giving preferential treatment to a Christian organization when allowing a facility rental last month, a move they say violates the Constitution,” the local paper reports. “The FFRF, a national nonprofit organization based in Wisconsin that aims to protect the constitutional principle of separation between church and state, claims the fee structure used by the district unfairly benefited the religious group.”

We celebrated the vetoing of a dangerous bill by our state’s governor that would have expanded Wisconsin’s statewide private school voucher scheme. (Nearly every voucher school in Wisconsin is religious.) “The data is in, and Wisconsin’s voucher experiment has been a total disaster,” commented FFRF Co-President Dan Barker.

Nashville paper publishes our op-ed
FFRF Director of Strategic Response Andrew Seidel brought attention to an important Tennessee constitutional issue in one of the state’s most prominent publications. The Statehouse shouldn’t discriminate against atheists, he urged in the Nashville newspaper, in reference to a pending bill in the Legislature that seeks to one-sidedly modify the state Constitution by removing the bar against ministers holding public office while leaving intact a similar ban on atheists. He concluded: “The Legislature must correct past discrimination fairly and lift the anti-atheist prohibition. It’s long past time.”

We stopped religious pamphleteering
We put a halt to religious pamphleteering at a N.C. license office. “The employee was asked to remove all the religious literature from the office,” a supervisor replied after we complained about an over-the-top pamphlet that was handed out with the official paperwork. We appreciated the quick and positive response.

Admonishing the preachy Miami superintendent
We chastised the Miami school superintendent for sermonizing at a high school graduation.

“Superintendent Carvalho needs to be reined in,” FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor remarked. “He inappropriately imposed his personal religious notions on a diverse community, on an occasion that is supposed to celebrate the pinnacle of 13 years of secular education.”

An unconstitutional foul
And we pulled out a penalty card on Virginia public school soccer staff who ostentatiously prayed at a recent game. It is illegal for public school athletic coaches to lead their teams in prayer, since the Supreme Court has continually struck down school-sponsored prayer in public schools, we informed the school district.

Watch an engaging legal discussion

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a narrow decision in favor of taxpayer-funded discrimination by a religious group, and on our Facebook Live “Ask an Atheist” feature this week, Andrew, FFRF Legal Director Rebecca Markert and FFRF Staff Attorney Sam Grover discuss the repercussions of the judgment. Watch it for legal edification!

Holy state preambles
Veteran writer and freethinker Jim Haught highlights in his current blog an often overlooked problem: the fact that an overwhelming majority of the states have holy preambles in their constitutions. “Almost every state in America thumbs its nose at the separation of church and state in its constitutional preamble,” he concludes.

Racial justice & reproductive rights
In her column this week, FFRF Anne Nicol Gaylor Reproductive Rights Intern Barbara Alvarez deftly ties together racial justice and reproductive rights. “Let’s stand up for reproductive justice, racial equity and secular values together,” she concludes.

Barbara has written a superb series of columns focusing on abortion rights, and this week on Freethought Radio, Dan and Annie Laurie interviewed her about the growing danger to abortion rights from religiously motivated legislators. Tune in for Barbara’s timely summary of the current assault on reproductive rights laws across the country.

With your generosity and support, we strive to ward off such religious threats to our country — no matter from where and how they originate.

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