Capitol Hill, the Mormon church, the Pentagon — and the coronavirus

Capitol Hill, the Mormon church, the Pentagon — and the coronavirus March 13, 2020

We at the Freedom From Religion Foundation haven’t let the coronavirus deter us.

We’re filing briefs before the U.S. Supreme Court
We’re filing briefs before the U.S. Supreme Court. We have asked the court this week to safeguard the civil rights of individuals working for religious institutions, warning that adopting wrong legal criteria would have an immediate and devastating impact on numerous health care employees and teachers, among others.

FFRF Attorney Sam Grover, one of the counsel on the friend-of-the-court brief, explains in our “Newsbite” segment why we have felt compelled to make our case before the highest court in the land — and what’s broadly at stake.

We’re advancing the secular agenda in Congress
We’re advancing the secular agenda in Congress. FFRF Director of Governmental Affairs Mark Dann lets us in on all that he’s been doing recently on Capitol Hill. “FFRF is working on appropriations, and I’d like you to get involved,” he asks all of you members.

We’re obtaining constitutional victories
We’re obtaining constitutional victories — and having our victories judicially affirmed. A tax office in Florida has removed an obviously Christian sign after the Freedom From Religion Foundation strenuously objected. And we’ve applauded a recent ruling against a former Washington state football coach (praised by President Trump and opposed by us) who sued after his public high school instructed him to stop praying on the 50-yard line after games. “If players have to pray to play — to suffer through a coach-led and -encouraged prayer — FFRF will be there to defend their rights,” FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor said in welcoming the judgment.

We’re taking on two of the most powerful institutions in the country
We’re taking on two of the most powerful institutions in the country: the Pentagon and the Mormon church. The Freedom From Religion Foundation is seeking assurances from the Department of Defense that the newly formed Space Force will not adopt an official hymn! The importance of keeping the U.S. military secular in order to protect the religious liberty of all servicemembers cannot be overemphasized, we assert. And we’re asking the mayor of Salt Lake City to reconsider a problematic deal that has offered free bus rides for members of the Mormon church. The government cannot extend a financial benefit to the members of a specific church to support a church event, we maintain.

We’re mobilizing you
We’re mobilizing you all to support a congressional bill that will end Trump’s discriminatory travel ban that severely affects freethinkers, too. The NO BAN Act is particularly important to FFRF, which has helped several atheists flee death sentences from Muslim-majority countries targeted by the ban. And we know that the ban precedent will ultimately be used against nonbelievers. Please take action, if you haven’t done so already.

We have pieces published in several newspapers
We have pieces published in several newspapers. “A state representative who thanks God for slavery and believes she can see demons is the main sponsor of a terrible bill (H.B. 341) that would require every Florida public school district to offer elective bible classes,” FFRF Attorney Ryan Jayne opens his piece in the Miami Herald. And Annie Laurie warns in a Memphis-area weekly: “A proposed bill to anoint the bible as the ‘official state book’ in Tennessee is not only unconstitutional, it is also an affront to true religious freedom.” That is certainly true.

We’re tackling the subject that’s been on everyone’s minds
And, of course, we’ve tackled the subject that’s been on everyone’s minds. We have rushed off a letter today to the Arizona attorney general urging him to cancel an April Phoenix event featuring Paula White that claims to have a coronavirus cure. “While President Trump is parrying widespread media claims that his administration has mismanaged the pandemic, his spiritual adviser is capitalizing on it and her event is actively encouraging people to group together,” Ryan writes.

In his second blog on the coronavirus in two weeks, FFRF Director of Strategic Response Andrew Seidel demonstrates the uselessness of religion in dealing with such a phenomenon.

“There is no religious response to the pandemic, unless we count abandoning religious rules in favor of science and medicine,” Andrew writes. “Faced with these choices, most people accept that religion is pointless, at best, and harmful, at worst.”

We have media offerings to divert you
We have media offerings that will perhaps keep you diverted. FFRF Co-President Dan Barker interviews on this Sunday’s “Freethought Matters” TV show a leading communications scholar (who’s also a vet depicted in “Good Morning, Vietnam”). “The indoctrination of religion is so deep that even people who have got a perfectly legitimate platform for explaining the truth about how we all got here and how everything around us got here, have to apologize in a way,” Professor James Lull remarks on the show. Find out where you can watch it on Sunday. Or you can catch it anytime on our YouTube channel.

And on our radio show, Dan and Annie Laurie chat with Katherine Stewart, a journalist and author who has a powerful new exposé out on the Religious Right, The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism. Get the inside skinny!

Watch our iconic ad featuring Ron “not afraid of burning in hell” Reagan during the Sunday Democratic primary debate. Incidentally, Annie Laurie and Dan interviewed the ever-quotable Reagan today via satellite hookup for an upcoming “Freethought Matters” episode. Stay tuned!

We are able to persevere even in the face of deadly viruses only due to your whole-hearted support.


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