Our secular voter poll, a Supreme Court nominee, a Puerto Rican contest — & so much more

Our secular voter poll, a Supreme Court nominee, a Puerto Rican contest — & so much more October 9, 2020

What a myriad bunch of activities the Freedom From Religion Foundation is able to perform within a week.

We started off by tackling a question central to the freethought movement: What do nonreligious American voters want? Our major new secular poll of more than 12,000 of you, i.e., FFRF members, offers a fascinating profile of American nonbelievers and their views. The data show with startling clarity that nonbelievers embrace a humanistic social policy in vastly higher numbers than the general U.S. population.

“Overall, nonbelievers are obviously caring, compassionate, involved and engaged individuals,” notes FFRF Co-President Dan Barker, “who clearly recognize that this world is what matters. Not believing in a god doesn’t mean you don’t believe in values. We are the real values voters.”

The data also provide fascinating insights into FFRF members. The typical member is a retired, married man and self-described atheist with a four-year college degree. He left Protestantism because “religion doesn’t make sense” and is a first-generation freethinker. Find out more here.

Urge postponement of the Supreme Court Confirmation
We also started out the week by appealing to you all on a very important issue. “If Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed to the Supreme Court, it initiates the final stage of a Christian Nationalist takeover of the high court,” we warned, urging you to protest the rush to hold hearings and to tell your senators to oppose Barrett’s confirmation.  Please keep calling your  senators through the Senate hotline at: (202)224-3121.

Make the Defense Department more secular
In addition, we requested the veterans and “atheists in foxholes” among you to ask the Defense Department to stay secular. Please consider taking a moment to share your experience as a nonreligious service member and any thoughts you have on how the military could do better to accommodate nonbelievers and to preserve our military as a secular institution.

A new essay contest in Puerto Rico
We were delighted to announce this week, in partnership with Humanistas Seculares De Puerto Rico (Humanists of Puerto Rico), more than $16,500 in cash scholarships for Puerto Rican students. This is the debut year for our first essay contest in a language other than English. Congratulations to the bright young winners!

Billboards urgently required in Tennessee
Undeterred by COVID-19, we placed a new billboard in the Knoxville area reminding people of the importance of the separation of state and church. The billboard is urgently required in Tennessee and is the latest in a series that FFRF has erected around Knoxville. FFRF thanks its East Tennessee chapter, including its President Aleta Ledendecker, for making all this happen.

Some good news!
We reacted to some good news this week, applauding a unanimous decision by the South Carolina Supreme Court that tens of millions of dollars of public money cannot be spent on the state’s private schools. “This decision should send a strong message to theocratic public officials everywhere that they cannot use public pandemic funds to promote private schools or private religious institutions,” FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor remarked.

A sanctuary county for houses of worship?!
We scolded the district attorney of a prominent California county for declaring San Luis Obispo “a sanctuary county for singing and praising in houses of worship.” Exempting such institutions from California’s COVID-19 guidelines violates fundamental Supreme Court rulings, FFRF Staff Attorney Chris Line pointed out to the DA.

End your Christian camp partnership, we tell Pa. school district
We asked a Pennsylvania school district to dissolve its unconstitutional partnership with a Christian camp. “The superintendent seems to be oblivious to the sensitivities of families who don’t subscribe to the brand of the majority religion that the camp espouses,” Annie Laurie stated.

Stop the spiritual blackmail
We chided our hometown bishop for his call to Catholics to attend Mass — and this in a state that is a leading coronavirus hotspot in the country. “Sounds like more spiritual blackmail to us,” we commented. We also pointed out the irony of Catholic officials risking Catholic parishioners’ lives while instructing them to vote “for life.”

The Trump administration’s stem cell hypocrisy
Could there be a clearer refutation of the Trump administration’s ban on federal funding of newly created human embryonic stem cell lines, we asked, than the fact that the treatment President Trump boasts of “curing” him of COVID-19 derives from such a stem cell? It is rank hypocrisy to castigate and ban the use of fetal tissue in stem cell research, but benefit from previous unbanned lines, we stressed. And religious lobbies are working to ban even those.

We interview the country’s leading Supreme Court expert
This week’s episode of the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s TV show, “Freethought Matters,” has as its guest the country’s foremost expert on an institution that’s been on everyone’s mind: the U.S. Supreme Court. Linda Greenhouse is the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter who covered the Supreme Court for the New York Times from 1978 to 2008. Don’t miss Greenhouse’s cogent dissection of the imperiled state of Roe v. Wade and the chilling direction being taken by the current high court, in addition to her analysis of recent Supreme Court Establishment Clause rulings.

A history of blasphemy
After reviewing our various derring-dos over the week on our radio show, Dan and Annie Laurie engage in a fascinating conversation with Oxford professor David Nash about his new book on a “sacrilegious” subject: Acts Against God: A Brief History of Blasphemy.

How can churchgoers worship a monster?
Veteran freethinker and writer Jim Haught engages in blasphemy of his own by asking in his new column (with backing evidence): “How can churchgoers pray to a heavenly father with a scriptural record of ferocious murder? How can they worship a monster?”

Good media coverage
Along the way in the week, we got a good amount of media play. A publication named Opera News had a long, affirmative profile of Dan and his transformation from a firebrand preacher to a devout atheist. (Read here to find out more.) Dan also fielded questions Friday from around the world on a live Australian podcast, “Critical Faculty,” an international show hosted by Hanney Seylim. FFRF is always “complimented” when major figures in the Religious Right single out our group, such as Focus on the Family founder James Dobson in a Newsweek column this week.

Upcoming FFRF virtual appearances
FFRF Director of Strategic Response Andrew Seidel is appearing at a number of virtual events the coming week, talking about his acclaimed recent book The Founding Myth: Why Christian Nationalism Is Un-American. And FFRF Legal Director Rebecca Markert is discussing the First Amendment as a featured speaker for the FFRF Arizona chapter. Check out the listings here and sign up!

There you have it. So many different things achieved, so much accomplished, in a single week — and all of it due to you.

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