Now that our co-presidents are back from an international cruise, we’ve been together combating unfriendly creatures in domestic waters.
As we reported last week, FFRF Co-Presidents Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor were away for a bit on a Caribbean sojourn as guests of honor of an FFRF chapter, the Central Florida Freethought Community. Along with the rest of us here at the Freedom From Religion Foundation, they spent this week taking on dangerous aquatic species of various sizes.
Big fish Pompeo
The biggest fish we tried to stave off was Mike Pompeo. As if it isn’t bad enough that this evangelical extremist has been running the country’s premier intelligence agency, he will now (if confirmed) be the global face of the United States. You’ll be as surprised as we were about the extent of Pompeo’s zealotry.
We chatted about Pompeo on our radio show this week, and then, after eulogizing Stephen Hawking and talking about a significant victory in North Carolina (courtesy FFRF Staff Attorney Ryan Jayne), interviewed NOW President Toni Van Pelt, a longtime humanist activist.
We also contended with some sharks in Congress. These senators and members of the House are trying to squelch the idea of a secular-humanist chaplain in the Navy. We fired a salvo, rebutting their misinformation and urging them to catch up with the fast-changing secular demographics of our country.
In addition, we signed, along with 60 other organizations (including the NAACP and the AFL-CIO), a letter to Congress opposing a voucher-style program for military families. Such a scheme undermines the interests of these families and the secular public education system, the joint letter points out.
There were medium-sized dangerous entities we dealt with, too. Statehouses around the country are being flooded with bad bills. The Alabama Legislature is trying to amend the state Constitution to install Ten Commandments monuments on public property. And Minnesota lawmakers are aiming to put “In God We Trust” in every public school building. We’re enlisting your help to beat them back. After all, together we made certain that a West Virginia bill requiring schools to teach bible classes died. And, hopefully, we’ll be collectively able to ensure the passage of a good bill: a Hawaii “death with dignity” measure.
There were smaller-sized beings that were as ill-disposed toward us. A Kansas county commissioner sent freethinkers his worst wishes in response to our missive.
“Local government officials in the second-most populous county in Kansas are grappling with a challenge by atheists to a decades-old practice of opening meetings with prayer, prompting a Sedgwick County Commissioner to say during a public meeting Tuesday that if they don’t believe in God, he doesn’t care if they ‘go to hell,’” the Associated Press reported in the Washington Post. “Sedgwick County commissioners planned to meet with their attorney behind closed doors in the wake of a letter from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a group based in Madison, Wisconsin, that advocates for separation of church and state.”
Steering through treacherous waters
We steered through other treacherous waters. We urged an Ohio middle school to disallow access to a preacher who sermonizes to the school’s kids during the school day. We asked for an end to an unconstitutional daily pre-lunch prayer taking place at a Texas public charter school. And we warned an Oklahoma school district superintendent against spreading Christianity.
It was not all difficult sailing, though. We had many pleasant encounters, as well. Secular thinker par excellence and our friend Jerry Coyne came down to our offices from the University of Chicago. Dan and he had a joint book event in our auditorium. For our “Ask an Atheist” Facebook Live feature, Dan and FFRF Director of Strategic Response Andrew Seidel interviewed Coyne on the question of: “Are Science and Religion Compatible?” Are they? Take a look.
On our “Freethought Matters” TV show this coming Sunday, we interview our internationally famous comrade, Iranian-born Maryam Namazie, who works with the London-based One Law for All. The show will air in the Madison area 11 p.m. on Channel 3 and can be viewed on our YouTube Channel Monday afternoon onward. Watch our interview last week with Emmy-winning science educator Cara Santa Maria.
With the help of friends like Jerry, Maryam, Cara and above all, you, we’re able to survive inimical creatures and navigate waters of all sorts.