The Freedom From Religion Found-ation sent out a total of 938 formal letters of complaint in 2013 to errant public officials, winning more than 235 solid victories keeping religion out of government. The total will grow, as many complaints lodged in 2013 will bear fruit this year, especially as FFRF follows up.
The letters total doesn’t include the many follow-up letters that go out or represent the time that staff attorneys spend responding to questions and queries from FFRF members and many members of the public. More than 2,430 requests for help to end state/church entanglements were received by FFRF last year. Most requests were lodged via FFRF’s Web form: Report a State/Church Violation.
FFRF provides this service free of charge and is one of the few state/church watchdogs in the country, writing more individual letters of complaint over state/church violations than any other group.
“The need is great,” noted FFRF Co-President Dan Barker. “We’re deluged with requests for help from around the country by citizens who care about defending the Jeffersonian wall of separation between church and state.”
Because of growing demand for help, FFRF is pleased to report the hiring of a fifth attorney at year’s end: Sam Grover, who had served as a summer legal intern.
The “top ten” states (where FFRF sent the most complaints to):
. North Carolina
The top 10 legal areas were religion in schools, legislative prayer, miscellaneous, nativity/holiday displays, church bulletin discounts, crosses, National Day of Prayer violations, religion in the workplace, election law complaints and government prayer breakfasts.
FFRF attorneys filed a whopping 522 complaints over religious violations in public schools, followed by government prayer (112), nativity/menorah displays on public land (41), formal complaints over crosses on public property (23), National Day of Prayer events (18), religion in the military (17), religion in the workplace (17), and election violations (13, typically endorsement from the pulpit).
Last year FFRF downed four crosses on public land, and impressively ended at least 166 promotions of religion in public schools, some as egregious as daily prayers in elementary schools. (Keep up with FFRF’s significant victories by reading the monthly synopsis in Freethought Today.)
FFRF also lodged 28 complaints about church bulletin discounts, the only other type of violation FFRF concerns itself with, whereby the Civil Rights Act is abridged when, typically, restaurants offer discounts for churchgoers.
In 2013, FFRF’s legal department also wrote and filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court case Town of Greece v. Galloway. Staff attorneys also aided litigation attorneys in writing and filing lawsuits. FFRF entered into an informal partnership with the Secular Student Alliance to help defend the rights of freethinking students and educate students about their rights.
FFRF and SSA drafted a Secular Public High School Students Bill of Rights. The new partnership will help form more student groups around the country. FFRF also sent out many regional action alerts and watched developments concerning troublesome bills in several state legislatures. Staff attorneys wrote letters to the editor, blogs and other educational outreach on state/church matters.
“A decade or two ago, FFRF was winning a victory or two a month, and now it’s nearly one a workday,” said FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor.
“It’s important to realize that nearly once a day last year, our staff attorneys’ efforts educated, and ensured that reason and the Constitution prevailed.”