Religion and the elections, policing, abortion & education

Religion and the elections, policing, abortion & education July 31, 2020

We at the Freedom From Religion Foundation aren’t afraid to wade into controversial issues that involve religion.

That’s why we asked the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office, in the wake of global Black Lives Matters protests, to cancel an upcoming mandatory “training seminar” that ominously  mixes ominously religion and policing and indoctrinates officers in “killology.”

“The First Amendment’s Establishment Clause does not allow the government, including sheriffs’ offices, to endorse or mandate a program that preaches a religion or indoctrinates attendees,” FFRF Director of Strategic Response Andrew Seidel wrote to the department. “This training program does just that.”

A church can’t endorse the GOP presidential ticket
And we aren’t hesitant to complain to the IRS when religious entities are violating electioneering rules. One recent complaint of ours that stands out is about megapastor Pastor Robert Jeffress’ endorsement of the GOP presidential ticket during a visit of Vice President Mike Pence to his megachurch. “The IRS needs to scrutinize the tax-exempt privileges that have been accorded to his church,” FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor remarked.

Victories on Capitol Hill
We’ve also recently been in the thick of the battle on Capitol Hill and as, FFRF Director of Governmental Affairs Mark Dann explains, we’ve achieved a few legislative victories.

“To paraphrase Taylor Swift: Legislators are gonna legislate,” he writes in his current legislative dispatch. “And the Freedom From Religion Foundation is making your secular voice heard in that process.”

Andrew and Mark dazzle at the Secular Student Alliance convention
Andrew and Mark kept the audience spellbound at the Secular Students Alliance’s recent virtual convention. Andrew and author Katherine Stewart engaged in a tag-team takedown of Christian Nationalism. Katherine spoke first, exposing the machinations of Christian Nationalism highlighted in her new book, The Power Worshippers. Andrew built on the theme, debunking the lies Christian Nationalism is using to redefine the American identity, which he also does in his book, The Founding Myth: Why Christian Nationalism is Un-American. Mark interviewed U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin, a constitutional scholar and co-founder of the Congressional Freethought Caucus. (Andrew and Katherine’s books are available in the FFRF store.)

Education and freethinking medieval poetry
We touched on a couple of contentious issues in our radio show. First, we spoke with Skyler Hutto, the newsmaking South Carolina attorney who is suing his governor on behalf of an educator plaintiff for distributing tens of millions of dollars of COVID relief to private (mostly religious) schools. Then we chatted with historian, author and commentator Juan Cole about his recent article that invokes The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyam (the legendary Persian freethinking poetry book he’s done a new translation of) to paint an unflattering picture of the U.S., Iranian and Brazilian governments.

Religion’s detrimental effect on abortion rights
Abortion rights is a controversy we delve into repeatedly, since the only organized opposition comes from the Religious Right. That’s why we condemned a Texas town’s religiously motivated decision to prohibit abortion providers from operating in its jurisdiction. And FFRF Anne Nicol Gaylor Intern Barbara Alvarez affirmed the continued relevance of a book written 45 years ago by FFRF’s principal founder (after whom her internship is named). “Science confirms it: Abortion is indeed a blessing,” she concludes.

How is religion changing in the U.S.?
Veteran freethinker and writer Jim Haught offers a novel take in his blog this week on the way religion is (d)evolving in the United States. See if you agree with him.

The elections, policing, abortion or education — we offer our perspective on all these hot-button issues as long as they connect with religion, and we are able to do it only due to your generosity and support.


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