Our annual meeting, an uncertain transition, the Scopes trial & Vatican abuse

Our annual meeting, an uncertain transition, the Scopes trial & Vatican abuse November 20, 2020

While much of the country is in a holding pattern fixated on the presidential transition, we at the Freedom From Religion Foundation have been firing on all cylinders.

Over the past weekend, we held our annual meeting — virtually, of course. It was attended by nearly 300 of you, followed by a live membership meeting with 229 members. Watch our highlights video, which features an inside glimpse of FFRF’s year to date, with a variety of brief and timely reports from FFRF Co-Presidents Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor, short cameo “candids” from many of FFRF’s 27 staffers, a stellar legal report from Legal Director Rebecca Markert and other attorneys, and from Strategic Response Director Andrew Seidel and his team. (A correction: Here is the list of state reps elected or re-elected at the annual membership meeting: Darrell Barker (WA), Charles Bender (IN), Sheri Bender, (IN), Michael Cermak, Jr. (PA), Sheridan Chapin (NY), Dianne Cooper, (IA), Margaret Downey (PA), Mike Dubik (VA), Stephen Hirtle (PA), Ken Hofbauer (IL), Sue Kocher (NC), Cheryl Kolbe (OR), Steven Lowe (DC), Stefanie Moritz (WI), Paul Novak (IA), Randy Pelton (OH), Tom Schottmiller (PA), Wayne Thurston (NY), Steve Trunk (CA), James Zerwick (WI)

Needed: a judicial transition
Obviously, we haven’t taken our eyes off the ball. We and dozens of other national organizations advised the incoming administration on how to effectively prioritize judicial appointments, in the wake of court packing by the Trump administration. With the steps outlined in the statement, the Biden administration will, hopefully, be able to undo the judicial wrongs that the Trump administration has committed in the past four years.

What a Supreme disgrace!
Speaking of the judiciary, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito disgraced himself recently in a speech to the Federalist Society — and we emphasize how his rant demonstrates the need for court reform. “It’s shocking to hear a supposedly impartial Supreme Court justice speak in such a hyperpartisan, reckless and entitled manner,” remarks Annie Laurie.

Finding our shared reality
What’s amazing in this time of transition and uncertainty is that we as a country don’t even seem to have a notion of shared reality. On our Facebook Live “Ask an Atheist” show this week,  Rebecca and Andrew are joined by Seth Andrews, a YouTube star and the author of Confessions of a Former Fox News Christian, to ask: Why is the country so divided? And how can we make it better?

Religious authoritarianism is still here to stay
Not surprisingly, our radio show this week is focused on Alito and the White House transition. First, Andrew dissects Alito’s remarks. And then journalist Katherine Stewart, author of The Power Worshippers, talks with Dan and Annie Laurie about her recent cautionary New York Times article, “Trump or no Trump, religious authoritarianism is here to stay.”

Visiting the Scopes trial site
FFRF Anne Nicol Gaylor Reproductive Rights Intern Barbara Alvarez takes us in her most recent blog on a judicial time travel journey — and deftly ties it to the present. Barbara recently visited the site of the legendary Scopes “Inherit the Wind” trial in Tennessee (where FFRF has erected a statue of freethinking defense attorney Clarence Darrow). “On our trip back home, I couldn’t help but think of the continued relevance of the trial and of the countless examples of Christian Nationalism permeating the classroom,” she writes.

Time to leave the Catholic Church
FFRF Staff Attorney Ryan Jayne, for his part, has done a close analysis of a recent Vatican report on priestly molestation of children, condemning it as far too little and far too late. “The church is not going to change anytime soon, and anyone deluding themselves into thinking otherwise is complicit in widespread, institutionally protected sexual abuse,” Ryan concludes his blog.

A nice constitutional victory
We obtained a victory this week. A Georgia school district will be reminding its staff members about their constitutional obligations after we notified officials of a praying coach. Our intervention helped enlighten the school district. “The superintendent has met with the high school principal, and a plan is in progress to meet with all coaches this week to discuss issues related to the First Amendment, including the Establishment Clause and Free Exercise Clause,” the district’s legal counsel replied.

Stop Christian access to your public schools!
We admonished a Florida school district for granting unconstitutional access to a Christian proselytizing group. We’re asking the district to commence an investigation into the complaint and take immediate action to ensure that its sports programs are no longer allowing outside adults, such as folks from the Christian outfit, to have access to evangelize students.

E.C. Stanton descendant & feminist activist on “Freethought Matters” this week
A descendant of a feminist pioneer who is a notable activist and author in her own right is the guest on the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s TV talk show this Sunday. Coline Jenkins is the great-great-granddaughter of powerhouse 19th century feminist and freethinker Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who was repudiated by the suffragist movement she ignited because she edited a book that is still radical today called The Woman’s Bible. Coline talks to Annie Laurie about her ancestor’s feminist and freethinking work. You can already catch the interview on our FFRF YouTube channel. Or find out where you can watch it Sunday.

Why does the mainstream media sideline us?
The fact that we’ve had to create our own media outlets, such as our radio and TV shows, proves veteran writer and freethinker Jim Haught’s point in his blog this week: How mainstream media, due to its dependence on revenues from advertisers and subscribers, rarely allows access to folks like us for the fear of scaring them off.

“The Secular Age is blossoming,” Haught concludes. “Our freethought movement is delivering the message because for-profit media cannot.”

With the help of your unstinting generosity, we’re getting the word out — and becoming increasingly successful at doing so.

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