As you know, the Texas governor and attorney general have attacked FFRF and all Texas freethinkers and nonbelievers over FFRF's role in protesting religious banners by public school cheerleaders in Kountze. The school district properly halted the cheerleader practice of placing bible verses on banners, then the cheerleaders sued the school district. The national media are following the Kountze developments avidly.
As FFRF's statement below notes, we believe Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott's condemnation of FFRF and atheists will encourage a climate of hostility toward nonbelievers, and encourage more state/church entanglements in Texas public schools. We believe you as a Texas freethinker must protest Abbott's inflammatory actions.
Please phone the AG's office today to voice your distress at his cavalier treatment of Texas freethinkers. Follow up with an email that indicates you're a Texas citizen or concerned U.S. citizen, but phoning his office is the best way to get the attention of the AG's office. Ditto the governor. See the statement below to read Abbott's and Perry's dismissive remarks toward atheists, FFRF and the separation of church and state. Links below also take you to a transcript and the video of Abbott's and Perry's preposterous press conference yesterday, in which both took potshots at FFRF, atheists and the Establishment Clause.
We are also asking you to contact the Kountze school district, depending on what happens today. The cheerleaders are in court awaiting word from the state judge on the restraining order against the school's action barring bible verses on cheerleader banners. Please either thank the District for defending the First Amendment, or, if the District backs down, let them know of your disappointment.
Please also write letters to the editor — your local newspaper, the Houston Chronicle or Beaumont newspaper, and if possible write comments supporting FFRF and the school district's position at online news coverage of the controversy.
Tell Perry and Abbott that they have crossed the line. Phone calls are best, so please call them today!
Office of the Governor
P.O. Box 12428
Austin, Texas 78711-2428
- Information and Referral Hotline [for Texas callers]: (800) 843-5789
- Information and Referral and Opinion Hotline [for Austin, Texas and out-of-state callers]: (512) 463-1782
- Office of the Governor Main Switchboard [office hours are 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. CST]: (512) 463-2000
- Citizen's Assistance Telecommunications Device. If you are using a telecommunication device for the deaf (TDD), call 711 to reach Relay Texas
Email Contact Form: http://governor.state.tx.us/contact/
Attorney General Greg Abbott
Office of the Attorney General
PO Box 12548
Austin, TX 78711-2548
Phone: (512) 463-2100
CONTACT KOUNTZE ISD
Kountze Independent School District
Superintendent Kevin Weldon
Assistant Superintendent Reese Briggs
Send a letter to your local paper or area papers below.
Letters Policy: Send letters to the editor, 250 words or less, as part of email text to . Include name, address, and day and evening phone numbers for verification purposes only. Letters subject to editing.
Reader Essays Policy: E-mail essays, up to 600 words long, to . No attachments, please. Include name, day and evening phone, and byline identification with affiliation or expertise related to essay. Because of the volume of letters and essays received, a personal response to each is not possible. However, authors of essays chosen for publication will be contacted by phone.
Submit your letter here.
READ FFRF'S STATEMENT ON TEXAS AG AND GOVERNOR’S INTERVENTION
Click here to read this statement at FFRF's website.
by Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has crossed the line from carrying out his secular constitutional duties to defend the state of Texas, to using his government bully pulpit to bully and scapegoat atheists.
At a press conference earlier today with Gov. Rick Perry at the Capitol, the grandstanding attorney general, speaking about FFRF, said:
“We will not allow atheist groups from outside of the state of Texas to come into the state, to use menacing and misleading intimidation tactics, to try to bully schools to bow down at the altar of secular beliefs.”
During the press conference, Abbott openly went after FFRF, and by extension, FFRF’s Texas membership of 700, and all atheists and nonbelievers — now estimated to comprise a fifth of the population. We’ve already heard from Texas FFRF members who have children in the schools, who are worried that their attorney general’s menacing remarks will not only escalate religious violations, but create a climate of hostility toward nonbelievers and their children in Texas.
Abbott called his pandering press conference after announcing he is intervening on behalf of Christian cheerleaders suing their school district in Kountze, Texas, aided by a zealous Christian-right group. The school had properly told the cheerleaders to nix religious banners after being contacted by FFRF, acting on behalf of a local resident who was shocked and dismayed to see bible verses used as part of a public school football ritual. The cheerleaders paint bible verses on giant paper banners, and quote such Christian verses as 1 Cor. 15:57: “But thanks be to God, which gives us Victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Abbott contemptuously described FFRF as “an atheist group from Wisconsin, who came into the state of Texas and tried to silence these students.”
He bragged about his history of activism in favor of state/church entanglements, including getting involved against FFRF “last year, at Christmastime, I think it was this very same group, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, that tried to bully Henderson County in Athens, Texas, into removing a nativity scene off of the county court grounds. There’s a bottom line here, and that is . . . we are not going to either tolerate or accept these atheist groups trying to prevent that freedom of expression here in the state of Texas.”
The Constitution and FFRF are not “preventing freedom of expression,” we are defending freedom of conscience. The Constitution differentiates government (public school) speech from individual speech. Those cheerleaders are free to worship as they like, go to the church of their choice, but not to exploit a public school event, and their school-sponsored podium, to push their personal religious views on an entire stadium. That’s just plain bad manners.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who repeatedly referred during the press conference to Abbott as “General,” castigated FFRF and state/church proponents. He said:
“The underlying problem here is that there’s this very vocal, as you shared, and very litigious minority of Americans that are willing to legally attack anybody who dares to utter a phrase, a name that they don’t agree with.”
Perry went on to demonstrate that he apparently has never read the godless Constitution he has taken oaths to uphold, saying: “We’re also a culture built upon the concept that the original law is god’s law, outlined in the ten commandments.”
The reprehensible actions of the governor and attorney general are the very reason our founders adopted a First Amendment — to keep local majorities from tyrannizing the minorities, and government officials from using their offices to promote religion.
Read previous press releases:
Thank you for your help!