The Supreme Court, Capitol displays, religious clubs, and Mark Twain

The Supreme Court, Capitol displays, religious clubs, and Mark Twain November 30, 2018

(Important Note: On Wednesday, Dec. 5, our website FFRF.org will be down for scheduled maintenance. If you have any questions, feel free to email info@ffrf.org.)

It defies belief how many situations we at the Freedom From Religion Foundation have to get ourselves into every week to defend the Constitution.

Saving New Jersey taxpayers millions
On Monday, we petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to let stand our unanimous win before the New Jersey Supreme Court on behalf of the state’s taxpayers. In April, the court ruled 7-0 in our favor that New Jersey churches weren’t entitled to millions of dollars of state money for repair and restoration of their properties. The churches appealed, and now we’ve filed our motion to save the good folks of New Jersey a tonload of their money. They’re welcome.

Making the secular presence felt
With the help of you all, we were busy at the grassroots level putting up displays in several places all over the country on public property to counter the religious tableaus so common at this time of the year. Our efforts in New Hampshire got noticed in a prominent state newspaper.

“As a card-carrying member of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Jack Shields wants to promote the group’s interpretation of the First Amendment,” writes a columnist in the Concord Monitor. The one about separation of church and state. The one that some feel is behind a war on Christmas. ‘Can someone explain to me why the manger needs to be on public property?’ Shields asked over coffee recently at his home. ‘There are lots of churches where something like that can be displayed.’”

We were especially busy on this front in Illinois. We installed a secular exhibit in the Land of Lincoln at the Illinois Capitol and at a courthouse not too far from Chicago.

Thank you for helping us keep the flag of freethought flying!Educating Los Angeles
An intervention of a different sort got us big media play this week. FFRF Director of Strategic Response Andrew Seidel’s letter making a secular point got published in the LA Times.Getting religious displays yanked off
An FFRF lawyer stepping in this week bore fruit.

“The city has moved its downtown nativity scene and a granite monument bearing the Ten Commandments in the wake of a complaint from the Freedom From Religion Foundation of Madison, Wis.,” an Ohio paper reported. “‘Our purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism,’ wrote Christopher Line, the foundation’s Patrick O’Reiley Legal Fellow.”

Way to go, Chris!

We want all veterans to be honored
Chris was a part of another interesting recent instance, where a veteran notified us after being disrespected by a Veterans Day ceremony at his child’s school that was religion-infused. Chris talks about that on our “Newsbite” segment this week.

No official religious clubs!
Our intervention in a problematic West Virginia school district (we’re suing the city council there, too) got some press.“A national organization supporting the separation of church and state says there are constitutional violations in Wood County Schools,” the local paper reported. “The Freedom From Religion Foundation said Thursday it has received reports schools have allowed teachers and outside adults to facilitate religious instruction during the school day in elementary schools.”Religion is divisive
We interceded in an episode next door that has caused a national uproar. We condemned the inclusion of religion at a school-sponsored event that took place in response to the recent photograph of high school students in Baraboo, Wis., giving the Nazi salute. “Religion is not the remedy to hate and divisiveness,” wrote FFRF Staff Attorney Ryan Jayne. “To the contrary, religion is inherently divisive.”

We stand vindicated!
We love it when a reputable study vindicates our stance on a certain issue, and it happened yet again this week. A recently published report has reaffirmed our opposition to religious discrimination in adoption and foster care. “Turning away LGBTQ prospective parents by asserting a religious exemption or taking advantage of a lack of state nondiscrimination law is a violation of this group’s rights,” the report states. We told you so.

An association of theocratic legislators?
Arkansas state Sen. Jason Rapert is one of the most extreme Christian nationalist politicians out there. So when he started the National Association of Christian Lawmakers, proclaiming that “it is time that our lawmakers start honoring the Judeo-Christian foundation of our nation,” we felt compelled to respond. “Rapert wants to take America back to a time when religion ruled, back to the Dark Ages,” we riposted.

Highlights from our convention
Our annual convention in San Francisco was a super-success, and on our radio show we bring you some highlights. First we have 12-year-old author Bailey Harris telling us how she came to write the freethought children’s book My Name Is Stardust. Then we hear the actor, director and producer John de Lancie (who played “Q” on “Star Trek: The Next Generation”) explain to our convention audience “The value of telling the truth.”
Some compelling guests
Our TV show, “Freethought Matters,” has compelling guests this week. On our national show, which can be seen in eight cities,  we talk with preacher-turned-atheist Carter Warden about his life story. And for viewers in the Madison, Wis., area, we offer an interview with Jim McCollum, the child involved in the namesake landmark McCollum case, which mandated an end to official school prayer.Mark Twain, whose birthday is today, said man “is the only animal that loves his neighbor as himself and cuts his throat, if his theology isn’t straight.” That’s why we intervene so much on behalf of secularism — with your generous support.
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