Mike Pence, a nonbelieving Congressman, tariff-exempt bibles and “In God We Trust”

Mike Pence, a nonbelieving Congressman, tariff-exempt bibles and “In God We Trust” August 30, 2019

This has been a week of announcements and pronouncements for us here at the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

We’re proud to announce that our “Freethought Matters” TV show is returning to the airwaves. On Sunday, Sept. 1., you’ll be able to watch in a dozen major cities around the country our interview with Rep. Jared Huffman, the only openly nonbelieving member of Congress. The guests in subsequent weeks include Center for Inquiry President and CEO Robyn Blumner, legal scholar Geoffrey Stone, U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin and philosopher and scientist Daniel Dennett. Keep an eye open for our messages in the coming weeks. And, down the road, you’ll be able to catch these shows on our YouTube channel.

A bunch of stalwart fellows
An announcement of ours bittersweet in tone was about our two legal fellows, Chris Line and Colin McNamara, completing their fellowships with us. On our “Ask an Atheist” Facebook Live feature, Chris and Colin chatted with FFRF attorney Liz Cavell about the highlights of their work here.

It feels good to be recognized!
An outside announcement that we were delighted about was the Democratic National Committee formally recognizing the contributions of nonbelievers to society and to the Democratic Party. We are optimistic that the DNC resolution is a sign of bigger and better things to come for freethinkers, and would like to see every party at every level of government adopt similar resolutions.

Bibles don’t need exemption
We were less thrilled about an announcement from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative that it is exempting bibles from the Trump administration’s tariffs on goods imported from China. “Carving out an exception for bibles from a broad tariff scheme is not a religious accommodation, it is religious favoritism,” FFRF Co-Presidents Annie Laurie Gaylor and Dan Barker wrote to U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer.

Pence’s serial dissembling
A string of misleading pronouncements that the vice president recently made about supposed Christian persecution at the VA miffed us even more.

“Those Christians can still read their bible and hear those carols, it’s just that the VA is not imposing the bible and carols on everyone else,” FFRF Director of Strategic Response Andrew Seidel wrote to Pence. “Sadly, it seems that the lack of imposition, which is required by our Constitution, is precisely what upsets you. And for that, you should be ashamed.”

Do we trust in God?
Andrew has recently penned a three-part series for Rewire News on the history of our Christian Nationalist motto, “In God We Trust.” The first two parts, on the history of the motto, and its hypocrisy are available for your reading pleasure and to satisfy your historical curiosity. The third part, on the appropriation of the slogan by the Christian Right in a concerted effort called Project Blitz, is going up Saturday.

The pews are emptying
Andrew and Liz subbed as hosts of our radio show this week, touching on a range of subjects from the DNC resolution to Andrew’s recent book tour for his new book, The Founding Myth. They then interviewed Chrissy Stroop, a writer, activist and EXvangelical about her work and forthcoming book, Empty the Pews: Stories of Leaving the Church. 

Spreading the freethought gospel in Europe
The regular hosts of the show, Dan and Annie Laurie, have traveled across the pond to spread the freethought gospel. Dan is speaking to a group of humanists in Valencia, Spain, today, and tomorrow Annie Laurie is on a state/religion panel at a global festival in Amsterdam. They’re getting the word out!

Stay out of schools!
Schools are scheduled to open around the country, and an organization that tries to sneak into schools all the time is an openly evangelical organization called the Todd Becker Foundation. This time, they’re playing their games in Colorado, and Chris announces on our “Newsbite” segment our determination to fight them at every turn.

Announcements, pronouncements, good, bad — whatever stripe they are, we know we can deal with them only with your help.

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