FFRF tells Ohio Governor you don't need faith to be courageous

February 13, 2012

The Honorable John Kasich, Governor
Riffe Center, 30th Floor
77 South High Street
Columbus, OH 43215

Re: Governor’s Courage Awards Remarks

Dear Governor:

On behalf of our 17,500 members, including 485 in Ohio, I am writing to comment on the remarks you made at your State of the State Address (click here to watch the video, tune in at 1:25), in announcing your Governor’s Courage Awards. Our organization works to promote the constitutional principle of the separation between church and state, and also represents the views of the 15% of adult Americans nationwide who reject religion (American Religious Identification Survey). In Ohio, the percentage of adults who identify as nonreligious is even higher — 17%.

In announcing the Governor's Courage Awards, a laudable action, you quoted Cicero: “A man of courage is also full of faith.” With all respect, Cicero was wrong to tie courage to faith. It takes no faith — in the religious sense, as most people would interpret this remark — to be courageous. Mark Twain, a thoroughly unfaithful man, wrote: “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear — not absence of fear.” Twain also wisely wrote: “Faith is believing what you know ain't so.” Twain pondered: “It is curious — curious that physical courage should be so common in the world, and moral courage so rare.”

In our religion-drenched society, it truly takes a man — or woman — of unusual courage to refuse to rely on religious faith. In a tide of credulity, it is remarkably courageous to ask for evidence and employ reason in assessing religion. As the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote, “Not one man in ten thousand has goodness of heart or strength of mind to be an atheist.”

That is why FFRF bestows our own awards, such as the Emperor Has No Clothes Award to public figures who make known their dissent from religion; our Freethinker of the Year Award to state/church litigants; our Freethought Heroine Award to women who speak out against dogmatic sway in our laws and customs; our Atheist in Foxhole Awards to those who buck religion in the military, as well as student activist scholarships to atheists and agnostics. One of our most recent student honorees, Jessica Ahlquist, the 16-year-old Rhode Island teenager and atheist under siege for correctly challenging an illegal prayer banner in her high school, truly exemplifies a young woman with the courage to stand not for faith, but for our secular Constitution.

With best wishes,


Annie Laurie Gaylor

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational charity, is the nation's largest association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics), and has been working since 1978 to keep religion and government separate.

FFRF is a non-profit, educational organization. All dues and donations are deductible for income-tax purposes.

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