By Amit Pal
Director of Communications
Freedom From Religion Foundation
We here at the Freedom From Religion Foundation regularly deal with a variety of issues, and the week gone by demonstrated this.
Stop it now
We spend much of our time objecting to breaches in the constitutional wall separating state and church. So we wrote to a Florida school board that has been starting its monthly meetings with a prayer. We requested that the religiosity immediately stop.
We questioned “tradition” at a famous public institution. Virginia Military Institute has, since forever, handed out bibles and other holy texts to graduating cadets at its commencement. The defense that this is a long-standing tradition is no excuse, since the institute has had several unsavory traditions it has had to discontinue.
We zeroed in on a major school district—one of the biggest in the country. Last September, FFRF had drawn the Los Angeles Unified School District’s attention to an unconstitutional bible club run by a football coach at a local high school. The club is still operating, but we received no response to our original letter. Now, FFRF has learned that there is another religious club, organized by a youth pastor, convening at another LA high school. FFRF is asking that both clubs be investigated. We’re hoping for a better response this time.
Chicago principally misbehaving
Speaking of big cities, we also focused on a Chicago-area principal who unabashedly promotes religion in his public high school. For instance, he has brought in an outsider to pray with the students in the cafeteria. FFRF sees no reasonable alternative other than to terminate his employment with the district.
Nice victory, but…
We obtained a nice victory this week, even if we aren’t completely satisfied with the outcome. FFRF had last November written a letter to a Texas city objecting to a 10-foot cross in a public park. The city council has just announced the sale of that parcel of land to a local church for $100. We welcome the decision as a win for the separation of state and church, but are concerned about a number of issues and will keep a close watch.
We also devote a portion of our energy monitoring laws around the country that affect us—in good ways and bad. We agreed with a number of like-minded organizations that a recent maneuver in the House led by Speaker Paul Ryan to deny LGBT folks legal protections was disgraceful. We deplored an Oklahoma Statehouse bill that sought to (in this day and age!) criminalize abortion. And we welcome an attempt by two members of Congress to make the Religious Freedom Restoration Act less harmful.
All in a typical week for us—and all possible due to your support and good wishes.
FFRF is a national nonprofit dedicated to keeping state and church separate and educating about nontheism. For more information and a copy of our paper, Freethought Today, please click here.