Outreach & Events - Freedom From Religion Foundation
Lauryn Seering

Lauryn Seering

desecrationChristian privilege is an insidious cancer prevalent in this country. This time the victim is a 14-year-old prankster with an irreverent sense of humor. The unidentified teen posted pictures of himself and a Jesus statue in which it appears the Lord is fellating the teen.

Sure, the photo is tasteless. But poor taste is not a crime (and Christians should be thankful for that). Neither is desecration of a venerated object. Yet the boy has been charged in juvenile court with that crime.

First, there was no damage done, the kid took some photos. Second, desecration is not a crime. FFRF's litigation attorney, Bob Tiernan, won a nearly identical criminal case in Colorado in 2000.  Rodney Scott was charged with "desecrat[ing] an object venerated by the public" for removing illegal and unlicensed roadside memorial crosses. The court found that the roadside crosses were "litter" so they could not be venerated.

But so what if they were? "Desecration" and "venerated" are clearly terms meant to protect religious sensibilities—and religious objects—from harm. But we already have laws in place that do just that—laws that prohibit vandalism, property destruction, and theft. Why do we need a separate law for religious property?

Obviously, we don't. But these laws, which exist in other states, are a codification of Christian privilege. Other examples abound. Christian privilege is also codified in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which Hobby Lobby recently used to impose its anti-scientific, anti-woman religion on employees.

Christian privilege abounds in laws and symbolism:

Christians think our nation trusts in their god. We do not.

Christians think our nation is united under their god. We are not.

Christians think America is great because their god ordained it so. Those who behead journalists and fly airplanes into skyscrapers believe something similar. They're both wrong. Freedom makes a country great. Equality makes a country even greater. And privileging one class of people because they all believe the same 2,000-year-old myth is not freedom or equality.

And, perhaps most of all, Christians think that their god cannot to be mocked (something else they have in common with cartoon-hating Muslims). Both are wrong. According to their own book, god is a genocidal tyrant and a blackmailing scapegoat. Even if such a god did exist, he would not be worthy of worship—he would be worthy only of mockery.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, other like-minded groups, and the burgeoning ranks of godless Americans are working tirelessly to end this unjustified Christian privilege. Soon, Christians will no longer be able to call the police when somebody makes fun of their imaginary friend.

[Note: if the attorney or public defender wishes to consult FFRF's legal staff on the unconstitutional nature of the desecration statute, he or she may get in touch with us by filling out this form: http://ffrf.org/legal/report]

FFRF sent a letter to the Rowlett City Council in June, asking it to end its discriminatory practice of scheduling exclusively Christian prayers before its governmental meetings. In the alternative, FFRF called on the Council to permit atheist and nonbelieving citizens to be given the opportunity to occasionally open meetings. It is now clear that Rowlett plans to hide behind the murky legal landscape resulting from the Supreme Court's unfortunate decision in Town of Greece v. Galloway rather than altering their discriminatory policy. Now its time for grassroots action!

Below follows a press release from Metroplex Atheists, which FFRF has been assisting, announcing plans to hold a protest at Rowlett's Tuesday Sept. 16th City Council meeting at 7PM at the City Hall Municipal Building (4000 Main Street
Rowlett, TX):

The City of Rowlett, following consultation with Liberty Institute, a far­right Christian legal entity, has chosen to reject Metroplex Atheists Rowlett members' requests to give an invocation before the City Council meeting, in violation of the recent Town of Greece v. Galloway Supreme Court decision. This decision legalized sectarian prayer before government meetings, at least in circumstances where there was no discrimination regarding who can give the invocation.

Metroplex Atheists Rowlett is calling for a protest at the city hall on 9/16 at 7PM, which is 30 minutes before the council meeting officially begins. The intent of the protest is to bring attention to the discrimination against atheists giving the opening invocation and not the fact that the meetings are opened with an invocation. Resident Rowlett atheists will then speak to the council during the citizens input portion of the meeting.

On June 24, 2014, Freedom From Religion Foundation staff attorney Sam Grover sent a letter to the mayor of Rowlett requesting that the city update its policies to reflect the recent Town of Greece v. Galloway decision by the Supreme Court. The decision allowed the Town of Greece, NY to have sectarian invocations before its meetings while noting that the town "at no point excluded or denied an opportunity to a would-be prayer giver," including a "layperson of any persuasion" or even an atheist! Metroplex Atheists Rowlett followed with a formal request that two of its own members be added to its list of approved celebrants.

"The City of Rowlett's policy regarding invocations is pretty clear," said Randy Word, president of Metroplex Atheists. "Despite the Supreme Court's decision, Rowlett intends to continue with policies that discriminate against any religious tradition other than Christianity."

Metroplex Atheists Rowlett is a division of Metroplex Atheists, a state/church separation advocacy group based in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

For more information on the protest please contact:

Randy Word, President of Metroplex Atheists
Email:
Phone: (972) 342­7958

Chad Aldridge, Metroplex Atheists Rowlett press contact
Email:
Phone: (241) 566­7299

If you can't make the protest but want to lend your support, you can contact the Rowlett City Council directly:

Email:
Todd W. Gottel, Mayor —  
City Secretary’s Office  
Michael Gallops, Mayor Pro Tem, City Councilmember Place 6 — 
Robbert van Bloemendaal — City Councilmember Place 1 —  
Tammy Dana-Bashian — City Councilmember Place 2 —  
Carl Pankratz, Deputy Mayor Pro Tem, City Councilmember Place 3 — 
Debby Bobbitt, City Councilmember Place 4 —  
Rick Sheffield, City Councilmember Place 5 — 

Mailing address:
Rowlett City Council
4000 Main Street
Rowlett, TX 75088

Arkansas State University is removing a Christian cross decal from its football helmets due to a complaint it received Sept. 6 from Jonesboro attorney Louis Nisenbaum. FFRF was also looking into the issue, but the university resolved the matter before it could file a formal complaint.

FFRF Co-Presidents Annie Laurie Gaylor and Dan Barker sent a letter Sept. 10 to ASU Chancellor Tim Hudson and Athletics Director Terry Mohajir, thanking them "for making the correct decision to remove Latin cross with the Red Wolves' football helmets."

Mohajir told USA Today the decal was meant to honor former player Markel Owens and equipment manager Barry Weyer, who died this year. Mohajir said he was disappointed in the decision but had to follow advice from legal counsel to remove or modify the symbol.

FFRF's letter suggested using mourning symbols such as black arm bands or displaying the player's number instead of Christian religious imagery.

Here is the contact information to thank university officials for abiding by the constitutional mandate to remain neutral toward religion:

Chancellor Tim Hudson

870-972-3030

Terry Mohajir 

870-972-3882

Last night the Allegheny County Council voted against displaying "In God We Trust" in council chambers at their meeting this week. The vote needed eight votes in favor to pass, but failed in an 8-6 vote against it.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald pledged to veto the measure and spoke out against it. Fitzgerald called the efforts to display this phrase on government property "a movement by the right-wing evangelical Christians across the count basically to impose Christianity in courthouses and school buildings across the country." 

"Allegheny County and this region have become an accepting and inviting region in which we invite all people," Fitzgerald said.

Several council members spoke against the injection of a religious statement at the seat of government. "Whenever we start mixing them, there's going to be some problems," said councilman Michael Finnerty, D-Scott.

"Putting it on that wall does nothing to make us a better council," said Councilman Jim Ellenbogen, D-Banksville.

Councilwoman Barbara Daly Danko, D-Regent Square, said the council had better things it could be doing. "We shouldn't do this," she said.

Councilman John Palmiere of Baldwin, a sponsor of the bill, did not attend the meeting. Councilman Charles Martoni of Swissvale, a sponsor of the bill, changed his mind and voted against it.

Emblazoning the seat of government with "in god we trust" excludes nonreligious citizens and turns them into outsiders.

PLEASE THANK COUNTY

Thanks to many Pennsylvania FFRF'ers who contacted the Council before the vote. Now it's time to thank the Council for keeping religion out of government and for ensuring Allegheny County is a welcoming place for all citizens, including nonbelievers.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald

Phone: (412) 350-6500

Office of the County Council
Phone: (412) 350-6490

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

FFRF has received a 4 star rating from Charity Navigator

 

FFRF privacy statement

AAI-LOGO

FFRF is a member of Atheist Alliance International.