By Amit Pal
Director of Communications
Freedom From Religion Foundation
Oh, what a bunch!
Of course, the brand-new presidential administration can claim credit for that. We began the week by alerting our members to the rapturous religiosity of Mike Pompeo, President Trump’s CIA director nominee. We followed this up with a joint alert about the theocratic unfitness of Jeff Sessions and Ben Carson to be attorney general and Housing and Urban Development secretary, respectively. Then, we refocused on a nominee of the utmost importance to us: Betsy DeVos, whose track record makes her completely unsuitable to helm the Education Department. We ended the week with a warning about the proposed new head of the Agriculture Department, Sonny Perdue, whose fealty to religion and disdain for science renders him unqualified for his job. And these were just the cabinet appointees.
So much to tackle
Looking ahead to Trump’s expected announcement next week for the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy, we felt compelled to issue a critique of his likely picks. We responded to the onslaught that’s commenced against reproductive rights. “The Religious Right is already baring its fangs under the new Trump administration,” we warned. We wryly responded to Trump’s proclamation of a new National Day of Patriotic Devotion. (Yes, that is actually now a day.) And FFRF Staff Attorney Andrew Seidel had a forceful reply in The Hill, one of the most influential publications in D.C., to a Christian organization’s “hopes” for policy changes under Trump. “Kelly Shackelford and his First Liberty Institute are not leading the charge to protect religious liberty, they are seeking to redefine it,” he wrote.
But we aren’t all just doom and gloom. We joyously participated last week in the various marches around the country. Many of us joined in the fantabulous gathering here in our home city of Madison, Wis., which had among the highest per capita turnout in the nation. (Check out the incredible photos by our extern Chris Line.) And FFRF Program Assistant Alyssa Schaefer actually drove cross-country to D.C. to take part in the Women’s March on Washington.
“The primary takeaway I had from my experience at the march was that my concerns about the next four years, especially pertaining to fundamental freedoms, are shared by millions of women and men throughout the country and the world,” Alyssa wrote. “And that it is essential that we voice our concerns and contribute to the democratic process.”
I told you that we were engaged in a whirlwind of activity — all possible due to the help and backing of our members and supporters. (And I didn’t even get into yet about our warnings to a Mississippi town to remove a Christian flag from a veterans park or to a California town not to donate land to a church organization.)
P.S. Our radio show this week talked about the new folks in Washington, with legendary feminist Robin Morgan and our Staff Attorney Andrew Seidel analyzing various aspects of our Trumpian reality. But we also chatted with Staff Attorney Patrick Elliott about our new lawsuit against a West Virginia county for conducting bible studies in its public schools. And Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor was on National Public Radio to discuss the same case!
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.