Freedom From Religion Foundation

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The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) is one of the most prominent organized groups protesting against undue favoritism shown to religion and the religious under US law. In addition to filing lawsuits, they also engage in some publicity stunts, publish newsletters and sponsor competitions.[1] They proclaim that "The history of Western civilization shows us that most social and moral progress has been brought about by persons free from religion."[2] The title of the organization is most likely a play on the phrase "freedom of religion", which is enshrined in the laws of many western countries - and sometimes considered by extreme social conservatives to specifically mean you can have any religion you like, but no religion is not allowed.

Criticism of all religions[edit]

The bumper sticker.

The FFRF is famous for selling stickers that describe the Bible thusly: "The Bible: A Grim Fairy Tale..."[3] As a Western organization they naturally focus most of their attention on Christianity, but they are also critical of Islam,[4] and co-president Dan Barker included a satirical song mocking reincarnation in his album Friendly Neighborhood Atheist.

Other in-your-face tactics[edit]

A photo of the sign at the Wisconsin State Capitol

According to Wikipedia, the FFRF won the right to display a sign in the Wisconsin State Capitol during the Christmas season, which reads:

At this season of the Winter Solstice may reason prevail.

There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell.

There is only our natural world.

Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.

They are also noted for sending"stop it1111!!!oneoneelventy11one!!111one!!!11!!" letters (known in some legal circles as cease and desist letters) to a variety of local governmental entities; indeed, though some of these make unactionable legal threats, many do not, and both sorts have led to settlements.

Legal wins and losses[edit]

The FFRF has won and lost these legal issues, according to WikipediaWikipedia's W.svg and others.

Wins[edit]

  • Getting the National Day of Prayer declared unconstitutional.[5][6][7] Later vacated per case/controversy clause.[8] That damned Constitution.
  • Overturning a state Good Friday holiday - plaintiffs included Foundation staff and state employees.[9]
  • Winning a lawsuit barring direct taxpayer subsidy of religious schools
  • Removing Ten Commandments monuments and crosses from public land
  • Ending the U.S. Post Office's issuing of religious postage cancellations
  • Ending Bible instruction in public schools

Losses[edit]

  • Challenged a Congressional proclamation calling 1983 "The Year of the Bible" (dismissed as moot)
  • Challenged a Ten Commandments monument in a public park in La Crosse, Wisconsin (dismissed)
  • Filed a federal lawsuit to stop the building of a chapel at the Illinois statehouse (lost in appeals court)
  • Went to Colorado state court to remove a Ten Commandments monument on Capitol grounds in Denver (lost in State Supreme Court)
  • Challenged "In God We Trust" on U.S. currency in Colorado (lost in 10th Circuit Court)
  • Tried to block the state of Wisconsin from granting $100,000 to assist building a center at St. Norbert Catholic College, DePere, Wisconsin (lost in appeals court)
  • Challenged a lighted nativity scene in a public park in Waunakee, Wisconsin (lost in Wisconsin Supreme Court)
  • Sued over the removal of its banner, "State/Church: Keep Them Separate," from the rotunda of the Wisconsin State Capitol (lost in federal court)
  • Went to federal court in Missouri to sue over the phrase "So help me, God" on tax forms (case was dismissed, then was lost after refiling).[10]
  • Claimed taxpayer standing to challenge White House faith-based programs which allegedly violated the Establishment Clause (opinion of the court was against existence of such standing,[11] though Kennedy, while supporting that determination, nonetheless all but scolded then-President George W. Bush in his concurrence[12] for not considering the constitutionality of his actions)
  • A smattering of cease-and-desist letters regarding prayers at governmental meetings, some of which were ignored and some of which simply led to the invitation of ministers from other religions for variety.[13] They predictably claim this as a victory.
  • Substantially increasing attendance at various religious events.[14][15]

General nuttery[edit]

  • Repeats (in a discussion of religious music in public schools) the claim that music must have historical value to have educational value,[16] a claim which ultimately serves only as an attempt to exclude the vibrant body of contemporary band/orchestral/choral literature from the classroom. We don't know who pissed in their hundred-year-old Wheaties.
  • Thinks Christmas concerts are an endorsement of religion rather than of, say, a semester-based calendar.[16]
  • Wants to consign Scott Joplin's music to a lesson during Black History Month, rather than treating it as worthy of study in its own right.[16] The fiends!
  • In regards to sharing the Bible with children (goat forbid young rationalists should know about such corrupting ideas): "even if the sidewalk is public, the Gideons should not be allowed to distribute literature on sidewalks in front of the school."[17] And you wondered why Freedom From Religion Foundation was the name chosen.
  • In regards to See You at the Pole: "Why can’t students pray at home and at church?"[18] This is precisely analogous to the right-wing debate-dodging tactic of telling socialists to move to Sweden, the only difference being that Sweden is far more awesome.

Freedom From Atheism Foundation[edit]

The Freedom From Atheism Foundation modeled their name on the Freedom From Religion Foundation. The FFAF opposes atheism but believes promoting faith, specifically especially Christianity, is acceptable.[19][20] Perfectly serious citations of Conservapedia included.

External links[edit]

References[edit]