Secular Day of the Dead, Steve Pinker, our Ala. lawsuit — and, of course, Amy Barrett

Secular Day of the Dead, Steve Pinker, our Ala. lawsuit — and, of course, Amy Barrett October 23, 2020
Amit Pal
Director of Communications
Freedom From Religion Foundation
This week at the Freedom From Religion Foundation, we engaged in an assortment of different initiatives — all in the service of freethought and secularism.

We started off the week by protesting a Small Business Administration rule change that will end up benefiting small businesses “affiliated” with much larger ones, including churches.

“Opportunistic churches want to enrich themselves at the expense of struggling businesses,” remarked FFRF Co-President Dan Barker. “And the SBA is willing to sacrifice the well-being of workers’ jobs and wages — the very entities the Paycheck Protection Program was designed to protect — to make it happen.”

Recent setbacks and triumphs
FFRF has been able to keep first-person tabs on what all is going on in Washington through its Director of Governmental Affairs Mark Dann, and he has just written a heartwarming dispatch about dealing with recent setbacks and triumphs.

“If there’s a common thread in my thoughts from Capitol Hill this year, it’s the combination of dark and light moments: pessimism and fear coupled with tangible examples of victories and reasons for optimism,” Mark begins. “Like many of you, I’m living this emotional conflict.”

Read on.

Join us for a Secular Day of the Dead observance
We’re co-sponsoring a special Secular Day of the Dead observance in both Spanish and English — and you are invited. Secularists all over the world will gather on Sunday, Nov. 1, virtually via Zoom at 2:45 p.m. Eastern, with special guest appearances, including actor Jon Huertas. Dan gives a keynote in Spanish and English, “Adios a dios.” Advance registration is requested, so please register. For more information, please go here. On our Facebook Live “Ask an Atheist” show this week, we provide a sneak preview of the event by chatting with principal organizers Margaret Downey and Victoria de la Torre.

Help stop Barrett from being confirmed
In the midst of all this, we haven’t taken our eyes off the ball. We’ve been keeping a close watch on the Supreme Court confirmation proceedings of Amy Coney Barrett, and as soon as the Senate Judiciary Committee illegitimately advanced her nomination, we urged you all to keep on fighting.

“The Freedom From Religion Foundation will continue, with your support, to champion the First Amendment in the court of public opinion and with strategic legal actions,” we stated. “Please consider donating today to help FFRF continue to educate the public about the dangers of theocracy, Christian Nationalism and the mixing of religion with politics.”

Abortion isn’t a divisive issue
FFRF Anne Nicol Gaylor Reproductive Rights Intern Barbara Alvarez deftly ties Barrett’s nomination to abortion rights in her most recent blog and incisively asks the question: Is abortion really such a divisive, religious topic?

“Abortion is a nonreligious issue,” she answers, citing poll after poll that reveal public opinion to be on the side of legalized abortion. “People across various walks of life, religious and nonreligious alike, agree that abortion is health care and should not be restricted.”

Steven Pinker Sunday guest on “Freethought Matters”
One of the most prominent public intellectuals in the world is the guest on our TV show this week, enlightening us about his new course on rationality. We’re talking about Steven Pinker, who serves as FFRF’s honorary president and has won many awards for his research, his teaching and his many books, such as Enlightenment Now. Pinker, who has completed an astonishing 40 years teaching as a professor, has recently created and taught at Harvard a class on rationality. Very logically, that’s the topic of discussion for this episode: How to think rationally, which you can catch here right now or find out where to watch Sunday.

Our Alabama lawsuit on forced voter religion
Our radio show this week is a two-parter. We first honor the life and legacy of “The Amazing” James Randi, who died this week at age 92, by listening to his entertaining 2008 interview with us. Then FFRF Co-Presidents Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor speak with Randall Cragun, the lead plaintiff in FFRF’s newest lawsuit challenging the disenfranchisement of atheists in Alabama in the shape of a voter registration form that compulsorily contains the oath “so help me, God.”

Photo by Chris Line
A lively debate on church electioneering
We’ve worked very hard over the years to prevent the intrusion of religious institutions into electoral politics. That’s why FFRF Director of Strategic Response Andrew Seidel eagerly debated Mike Bates, former chairman of the Commission on Accountability and Policy for Religious Organizations, on the importance of the Johnson Amendment, which limits the participation of tax-exempt organizations (such as churches) in the political arena. Watch the lively exchanges here.

Athletes shouldn’t have to pray to play!
We asked a Tennessee school district to stop its football coaches from praying with its students. “Federal courts have specifically held public school coaches’ participation in their team’s prayer circles unconstitutional,” FFRF Staff Attorney Chris Line wrote to the district’s legal counsel.

We’ll usher in a better future
Our regular blogger asserts this week that “Nones” will usher in a better world. “Nobody can predict the future — but I think a significant hope lies with the Secular Age that is blooming all around us,” concludes veteran freethinker and writer Jim Haught.

Here’s to that world, which we’re constantly striving for — backed by your generosity and warmth.


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