Religious governors, Thomas Paine, abortion rights and astrology

Religious governors, Thomas Paine, abortion rights and astrology June 4, 2021

Within the ambit of state/church separation, we at the Freedom From Religion Foundation deal with an astonishingly broad spectrum.

Thank you, President Biden!
Take this week, for example. We applauded President Biden for excluding the religiously rooted Hyde Amendment from his budget proposal. Biden’s action is historic, we remarked, since the amendment, which restricts federal funding for abortion care, has been included in every congressional appropriation act since 1980. The popular Friendly Atheist blog took note of our comments.

Voter suppression is a secular issue
We urged freethinkers to oppose voter suppression. The campaign to defend the principle of separation between state and church is really a way to limit the capture of our government by theocratic religious interest groups. Reforms that empower people, that extend the franchise to every citizen, will protect and defend our secular democracy.

Joy and concern during Pride Month

With nearly 12 percent of our members identifying as LGBTQ+, we celebrate Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Pride Month with the knowledge that even though there’s been much improvement, much is at stake. There can be no full equality in the United States — or in any state — until its laws and courts are freed from religious control and dogma, we emphasized.

DeSantis engages in religious photo-op
As if to underscore our point, the Florida governor just a couple of days ago signed a trans athlete ban in a photo-op staged at a bigoted religious school. By signing anti-trans legislation into law at an anti-LGBTQ institution, Ron DeSantis signaled not only his anti-trans bigotry, but his approval for the school’s abhorrent and unscientific beliefs, we stressed.

Join us for a Thomas Paine celebration
We are co-sponsoring a celebration of the life and legacy of U.S. Founder Thomas Paine on Tuesday, June 8, starting at 6:45 Eastern, which you’re invited to attend via Zoom. There will be brief welcoming remarks by FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. Dan Barker, co-president of FFRF, will perform his original song based on Paine’s beloved words, “The World Is My Country.” The program will also include an introductory statement by Rep. Jamie Raskin, Congressional Freethought Caucus co-chair and an aficionado of Paine (a freethinking radical). Register now!

Exposing a nefarious group in the Missouri media
Of course, our core work — as always — was a major part of our focus. This included getting our message out in the mainstream, as FFRF Staff Attorney Ryan Jayne successfully did in Missouri. Missouri legislators are busily converting — with the guidance of a Christian nationalist group — a cursive writing requirement into a profoundly unconstitutional imposition, he revealed in a piece in one of the state’s biggest papers. Such underhanded tactics are unacceptable, he concluded — especially for the Show-Me State.

Utah gov. should stop pointless effort
We excoriated the Utah governor’s show of governmental piety in calling on the citizens of Utah to “pray for rain” this weekend. We noted in our letter to him: “Nothing fails like prayer. Wishful thinking cannot suspend natural law, much less cause precipitation. Utahns do not need prayers, they need real solutions.”

Rein in a proselytizing coach
A proselytizing coach should be reined in and, if need be, removed, we urged a Florida school district. “It is illegal for public school athletic coaches to promote and endorse religion or lead their teams in prayer,” FFRF Staff Attorney Chris Line wrote to the superintendent.

End your praying, we tell a N.C. county board
And we insisted that a North Carolina county’s board of commissioners nix the unconstitutional prayer that starts its meetings. “This ostentatiously Christian practice must end,” Annie Laurie remarked.

A leading constitutional scholar on our radio show
Our media and blog offerings similarly tackled a broad range — from abortion rights to astrology. After Dan sang Tom Paine’s words in “The World Is My Country,” Dan and Annie Laurie interviewed leading constitutional scholar Geoffrey Stone about the U.S. Supreme Court’s troubling decision to accept a Mississippi case restricting abortion.

The multipronged assault on abortion rights
FFRF Anne Nicol Gaylor Reproductive Rights Intern Barbara Alvarez was busy documenting the multipronged attack on abortion rights in the country. Her first blog focused on the Mississippi clinic at the epicenter of the latest reproductive rights battle in the United States —  and the nastiness of anti-abortion protesters there. Her second blog emphasized how reproductive rights are LGBTQ rights. It is important not to dismiss the harmful impact that reproductive restrictions have on members of the LGBTQ community, she underscored.

Astrology is nonsense
Veteran writer and blogger Jim Haught wrote a fun piece debunking astrology. “Astrology has no basis in fact,” he stated.

Freethinkers have known that forever, and yet we at the Freedom From Religion Foundation are sometimes tempted to thank our stars that we have your generous support for everything we do.

Note: “Freethought Matters,” FFRF’s TV show, is on a summer hiatus and will begin broadcasting again in the fall, starting on Sunday, Sept. 5.

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