So much to celebrate — and a few worrisome things, too

So much to celebrate — and a few worrisome things, too April 2, 2021

We at the Freedom From Religion Foundation had a number of reasons to celebrate this week.

A new report from Gallup reveals that formal church membership among Americans has dropped below 50 percent for the first time in Gallup’s 80-year history of asking the question. Our efforts to educate the public about freethought and to form a freethinking community seem to be working, as FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor noted.

We’ve established a Secular Studies Endowment
We announced a $300,000 FFRF Secular Studies Endowment at Pitzer College in Claremont, Calif., made possible thanks to a bequest by FFRF member and ardent atheist Kenneth L. Proulx. Pitzer College was the first college in the United States to inaugurate a Secular Studies program in 2011, initiated by Professor of Sociology and Secular Studies Phil Zuckerman. We are envisioning our endowment as a lead gift in a goal to someday establish a Center of Secular Studies at the college.

Mike Pompeo is on the ash heap of history
We toasted the demise of a Christian nationalist commission imposed on the nation by Mike Pompeo of Trump cabinet infamy. We’re keeping track of all the previous administration’s executive orders, commissions and other Trump-created bodies and will keep pushing until all of them join Pompeo’s pet project on the ash heap of history. “May its siblings soon follow it into obscurity,” the Washington Blade quoted Annie Laurie.

Our Chicago chapter is countering Catholic Extremism
And we’re cheering on the activism of our Windy City chapter, which is once again putting up a weeklong secular display in downtown Chicago on Easter weekend to counter a Catholic shrine installed there by the Thomas More Society, a Catholic hardline group. We warmly thank FFRF Metropolitan Chicago Chapter Executive Director Tom Cara for securing a permit for the display and two board members of the active local chapter for their assistance in putting it up.

Applauding our Secular Age
Veteran freethinker and writer James Haught is applauding something big: the latest age in human history. “Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but I predict that the Secular Age is taking shape under our noses,” he concludes his newest blog.

Talking about a thousand brains
Our radio show this week extols the human brain. Freethought Radio co-hosts Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor chat with neuroscientist and freethinker (and creator of the Palm Pilot) Jeff Hawkins about his new groundbreaking book, A Thousand Brains: A New Theory of Intelligence. 

A hopeful move in Congress
FFRF Anne Nicol Gaylor Reproductive Rights Intern Barbara Alvarez has written a blog about a possibly hopeful legislative move. The Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance Act of 2021, or the EACH Act, was reintroduced in Congress last week to end the draconian Hyde Amendment and make abortion accessible and affordable to millions of women throughout the country. The Freedom From Religion Foundation has joined a broad, multifarious coalition to champion this bill.

Sasha Sagan’s advice on secular rituals
Our TV interview on Sunday tries to find hope in sometimes grim situations. Sasha Sagan’s essays and interviews on death, history and ritual through a secular lens, inspired in part by the work of her parents, Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan, have received wide notice. “If we don’t think there’s any rhyme or reason, there’s nobody planning all this, then it’s on people who have been very lucky to try to make the world more fair and more just,” she tells “Freethought Matters” guest host Andrew Seidel in discussing her first book, For Small Creatures Such as We: Rituals for Finding Meaning in Our Unlikely World. You can watch the show any time on our YouTube channel. Or find out where you can catch it Sunday.

We’re tackling the negative stuff in the states
Of course, there are truly less cheerful things afoot, especially at the state level. FFRF Staff Attorney Ryan Jayne submitted testimony to the Maine Legislature on our behalf in opposition to a bill that proposes to unconstitutionally favor long-established churches. And the Indiana and Arizona legislatures advanced anti-abortion bills rooted in religion, as FFRF Anne Nicol Gaylor Reproductive Rights Intern Barbara Alvarez witheringly observed in a blog.

“These bills in Indiana and Arizona defy the secular foundation of our country,” she concluded. “Laws related to health care should reflect science — these bills do not do that.”

There’s another disturbing new phenomenon we’ve recently observed in state legislatures: an anti-trans trend, as Ryan details in a blog. “These bills and laws achieve nothing except using the legislative process to stoke anti-trans fears,” he writes.

We’re seeking your help
That’s why we’ve been mobilizing you. Obviously, we alerted you to the Indiana and Arizona anti-abortion measures and the Maine bill granting preferential treatment to churches. But we also notified you about religiously motivated amendments in Arkansas and Montana and awful bills expanding religious privilege in New Hampshire and permitting public school Ten Commandments displays in North Dakota and school prayers in Florida.

We’re together in all of this — for the positive as well as the not-so positive.


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