An advertisement for Vacation Bible School in front of the Caraway Public Library in Caraway, Ark., has been removed. The sign, an electronic, scrolling text marquee, promoted a bible program for children at a local church.
FFRF Staff Attorney Patrick Elliot wrote to Mayor Barry Riley on June 13, noting that the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment mandates government “neutrality between religion and religion, and religion and nonreligion.”
Elliott suggested, “The best policy would be for the city to disallow such advertising.”
Mayor Riley responded on the same day that, “The message on the sign has been removed.”
The Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter today to Theodore Nickel, of the Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance, protesting his decision, as reported by some media outlets, to stop enforcing a state law requiring insurers to cover contraception as part of health plans if they have “religious objections.”
According to a report by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, agency spokesperson J.P. Wieske claimed to be “federally pre-empted” by the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Hobby Lobby case.
“If the reports are true, this is a phony excuse, and a decision that Wisconsin women must not tolerate. This state agency most certainly is not ‘federally pre-empted.’ The Hobby Lobby ruling has no bearing on state law. Inviting insurers to violate a state law is not only irresponsible, but is an egregious attack on women’s rights and reproductive health,” said FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor.
FFRF Staff Attorney Andrew Seidel noted in his letter to Nickel that Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., “hinges on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act [and] . . . does not apply to state law and state action.” Seidel further notes, “The Wisconsin legislature mandated contraceptive coverage in June of 2009, before the Affordable Care Act.”
“It is curious, some might even say hypocritical, to claim that there is a federal preemption issue with Wisconsin’s contraception mandate,” Seidel wrote. “Gutting mandatory contraceptive coverage is not required by the Hobby Lobby decision, as any staunch states’ rights defender must know.” FFRF requested that the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance “immediately rescind this misguided action.”
The Freedom From Religion Foundation salutes President Barack Obama for doing the right thing today — by not caving to the ugly demand by many religious leaders of various denominations seeking the privilege to discriminate against gays and lesbians while receiving federal contracts.
This morning the president issued an executive order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers, and prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity in federal employment. Obama took matters into his own hands after the House failed to act on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which was passed last November by the Senate with strong bipartisan support.
“It’s a fact that the only organized opposition to gay rights and non-discrimination against LGBT citizens is religious,” said FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor.
“Those host of religious leaders who urged Obama to exempt them from the executive order — for the express purpose of shunning gays and lesbians while working on the public dime — ought to be ashamed of themselves,” added FFRF Co-President Dan Barker, a former evangelical minister. “When my mother, a former fundamentalist, left religion, she told me how happy she was that ‘I don’t have to hate anymore.’ It shouldn’t be socially acceptable to be bigoted for any reason, much less in the name of religion.”
Religionists who contacted Obama included Rich Stearns, president of World Vision, Rick Warrens, Catholic leaders, priests, rabbis, evangelical leaders and Christian college presidents.
FFRF maintains that the federal government and recipients of federal programs will benefit by weeding out discriminatory would-be contractors.
Obama’s being targeted for this action by many theocratic groups. If you’d like to thank him for putting people above dogma, here’s how to contact him:
Please click here to send a message directly to the White House urging President Obama, using the online comment form.
Or phone the President at the White House comment line now: 202-456-1111.