National media attention, a White House meeting, our own media offerings & Carl Sagan

National media attention, a White House meeting, our own media offerings & Carl Sagan May 14, 2021

We at the Freedom From Religion Foundation will admit it: We’re thrilled when we see the freethought perspective in the media — and there were a number of such instances this week.

The Washington Post mentioned a scolding we sent Christian nationalist Sen. Josh Hawley’s way when he first ran for his seat and made a ridiculous speech pandering to the Religious Right.

“The speech drew a rebuke from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, which is dedicated to upholding the separation of church and state,” states the piece. “The foundation wrote to the former constitutional law professor that his remark ‘stands in glaring defiance of the very Constitution that you swore an oath to uphold.’”

Christian Science Monitor quotes us
The Christian Science Monitor quoted FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor at length on the changing demographics of our country:

Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) — which runs ads featuring Ron Reagan, son of the former president — argues that atheists, agnostics, and otherwise nonreligious people have in the past been woefully underrepresented in public life.

That’s changing as their numbers rise. Ms. Gaylor ascribes this shift in part to “antiquated” attitudes in some churches toward women and LGBTQ people, which have turned young people in particular away from organized religion.

“We are seeing our country waking up, as it had already in much of Europe and the U.K.,” Ms. Gaylor says. “It took a long time, but once you turn that light switch on, I don’t think you turn it back off.”

A Ga. TV station seeks our expert opinion
Even a local controversy regarding a Georgia public school permitting a church group to put religious materials in schoolchildren’s backpacks had the area TV station turning to us.

“You can’t plead ignorance as an excuse when you violate the law, doesn’t matter what law it is, whether it be the Establishment Clause or a criminal statute, you can’t just say, ‘Oh, I wasn’t aware,’” FFRF Staff Attorney Chris Line told Channel 9. For more of his remarks, click here.

Our iconic ad on “CBS Sunday Morning”
And we’ve made a breakthrough this week with our iconic Ron “not afraid of burning in hell” Reagan ad, which is running on “CBS Sunday Morning” for a few weeks.

“It’s a heartening sign of the times that atheists and agnostics are finally being allowed a voice on CBS,” said Annie Laurie. “After all, believing in the concept of eternal torture and punishment should be socially unacceptable, not Ron’s gentle jibe.”

The White House consults with us
There was another breakthrough, revealing the very different nature of this administration from its predecessor. A historic meeting by a number of major secular organizations, set up by the Secular Coalition of America, was held today with the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Partnerships. FFRF Co-Presidents Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor mentioned the state/church watchdog’s concerns that an investigation take place about the Jan. 6 insurrection and that it include the role of white Christian nationalism, as well as the urgent need for court reform and expansion.

A renegade member of a notorious fundamentalist family 
We have our own media offerings, too. A woman who has rejected her infamously fundamentalist family is interviewed on our TV show this Sunday. Megan Phelps-Roper, author of the book Unfollow: A Memoir of Loving and Leaving the Westboro Baptist Church, bade goodbye to the church, founded by her grandfather Fred Phelps, in 2012 and now educates on topics related to extremism, religious extremism and how to communicate across ideological divides. You can already watch the show on our YouTube channel. Or find out where you can catch it on Sunday.

An interview with a wordsmith

Our radio interview this week is a treat for word fiends. Freethought Radio co-hosts Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor talk with author Anu Garg, a former Hindu who is now an atheist (and has been a member of FFRF since 2008), the founder of Wordsmith (wordsmith.org) and the writer of the popular “A Word A Day” email that has hundreds of thousands of subscribers in almost 200 countries.

Our work on behalf of the Constitution
Of course, we do our work on behalf of the Constitution regardless of how much media attention we receive. That’s why we applauded the 2020 Report on International Religious Freedom released by Secretary of State Antony Blinken for including the rights of nonbelievers. We also supported a proposed Department of Health and Human Services rule to reverse the Trump administration’s cruel attacks on Title X, the federal program providing family planning and other health care screening to low-income patients. We joined more than 80 other organizations in calling for an end to the judicially created doctrine of qualified immunity — which shields state officials from liability for their misconduct even when they violate the Constitution. We strenuously objected to top Mississippi officials, including the governor, endorsing the National Day of Prayer in an over-the-top event. And we denounced a just-imposed Texas anti-abortion ban — part of a chilling national trend.

Seattle, Washington / USA – June 12 2020: Protester with “Abolish Qualified Immunity” sign at the March of Silence in support of Black Lives Matter

A remembrance of Carl Sagan
Veteran freethinker and writer Jim Haught has a luminescent reminiscence of Carl Sagan, whose sister he befriended. Haught focuses on Sagan’s skepticism of religion — and all things supernatural — as expressed in one of his final books. Read on.

President Biden, stand up against the Catholic Church!

FFRF Anne Nicol Gaylor Reproductive Rights Intern Barbara Alvarez, on her part, is urging President Biden to stand up for abortion rights against the Catholic Church. “As a former Catholic who spent my formative years in Catholic school, I am all-too-familiar with the ways that the Church’s exclusively male leadership instills fear in those who sit in their pews,” she writes.

We called upon you to stiffen Biden’s resolve by urging him to strike anti-choice amendments from the budget bill. And we asked you to support the HHS rule that is proposing to expand access to family planning.

Media or no media, you are the foundation of all that we do.

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