As we at the Freedom From Religion Foundation are preparing for some upcoming court rulings in ongoing FFRF lawsuits, we’ve been juggling a lot of other balls.
We were one of several leading secular groups that sent a letter to Congress urging a halt to the Trump administration’s egregious proposal to channel public funds to private, mostly religious schools.
“The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States requires governmental neutrality between religions, and between religion and nonreligion,” stated a joint letter signed by us, Center for Inquiry, American Humanist Association, American Atheists and Secular Coalition for America. “This separation of church and state is a bedrock element of our religious freedom. To uphold religious freedom, the United States must reject taxpayer funding of religious instruction of school children.”
We also signed on to an amicus brief challenging President Trump’s discriminatory travel ban. We objected to it from a unique standpoint: “We’re expressing our dislike of an executive order that has potentially dire consequences for everybody, including nonbelievers,” said FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor.
A tale that’s all wet
And we obtained a secular victory when we persuaded a Massachusetts town into removing a religious display (a kids’ version of the Noah’s Ark story) from a library playground. “In response to your letter, the town has painted over both sides of the display with white paint so that no symbolism is shown,” Ashburnham Town Administrator Brian Doheny recently emailed us.
Grim international news (& FFRF’s congressional accomplishments)
We keep an eye on international happenings affecting secularism, and this week the Indian subcontinent occupied our attention. We sent out an action alert after Pakistan’s horrific anti-blasphemy law claimed another victim (this time a U.S. citizen from Illinois!) asking you all to urge your federal representatives to take a stand against blasphemy laws around the globe.
And I appeared on FFRF’s Freethought Radio to talk about the dangers of Hindu Nationalism, specifically how Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is transforming India from a secular nation to an officially Hindu state. Then, FFRF Co-Presidents Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor chatted about the dangers of Christian Nationalism with FFRF’s Director of Governmental Affairs Mark Dann, including what it’s like to be a D.C. lobbyist during the pandemic, and what FFRF has recently accomplished on Capitol Hill.
Dissecting sanctimonious art
We’ve been busy wordsmiths. FFRF Director of Strategic Response Andrew Seidel skewered a recent painting by “the Thomas Kinkade of Christian Nationalism” that portrays an outlandish cast of unlikely historical characters united in prayer around President Trump in the Oval Office (including Thomas Jefferson, Robert E. Lee, Frederick Douglass and Andrew Breitbart!). In fact, Andrew had so much fun with the topic that he and Annie Laurie were on FFRF’s “Ask an Atheist” Facebook Live feature this week to rip apart Jon McNaughton’s propagandistic artwork.
Religion and denial of Native American rights
FFRF Anne Nicol Gaylor Intern Barbara Alvarez shed light on a grim situation: how religion has been used to rob Native American women of their reproductive freedoms. “Much of the denial of rights for Native American populations has been rooted both historically and contemporarily in evangelism,” she wrote.
Where is God in this pandemic?
And veteran freethinker & writer Jim Haught asserted that the current pandemic conclusively disproves a compassionate God. “To sum up: Why is God letting vast numbers of innocent people die in agony?” he asked.
We’re still appearing before public audiences
Believe it or not, FFRFers are making regular public appearances even in these times — virtually, of course. Dan was a guest on the “Razón o Fe” show. It was hosted by Manel Salido in Spain, but the show had live questions from viewers all over the world: Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Mexico, Spain, Guatemala. Dan was also recently on “Truth Wanted,” produced by the Atheist Community in Austin. FFRF Staff Attorney Ryan Jayne and FFRF Legal Fellow Dante Harootunian (who has now left us for a clerkship in the American Samoa) did a recent video presentation for our Chicago chapter. (password: FFRFStandingUp)
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