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Lauryn Seering

Lauryn Seering

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. 

CONTACT

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.

1kelvinThe Freedom From Religion Foundation is pleased to announce that it has awarded a $1,000 scholarship to Kelvin Manjarrez, a graduate from Gardena High School who will be attending El Camino College, Calif., in conjunction with Black Skeptics Los Angeles’ 2014 First in the Family Humanist Scholarships. 

Kelvin has been a volunteer for Reading Partners Los Angeles and a translator in the 2014 primary election. He identifies as an atheist and aspires to be an English professor. 

“I have always been passionate about our educational system. A wise man once said that: ‘Humanity’s greatest fear is the unknown,’” he wrote in his essay. “This accounts for contrived religions of all sorts, a simple explanation to the unexplained. 

“Citizens who are better educated can better distinguish between right and wrong. This, in turn, generates understanding and unity amongst different groups of people who would have otherwise segregated, fought and killed one another. It is of no coincidence that some of the brightest minds in history have been social activists as well as advocates for a better pedagogical system: Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking and Neil DeGrasse Tyson, just to name a few.” 

The BSLA scholarships focus on outstanding South Los Angeles students who are undocumented, in foster care, homeless, LGBT or atheist youth. BSLA is the first atheist organization to specifically address college pipelining for youth of color. 

“If current prison pipelining trends persist the Education Trust estimates that only one of every 20 African American kindergartners will graduate from a four-year California university in the next decade,” notes BSLA activist Sikivu Hutchinson.

“We’re delighted to be partnering with BSLA on such a worthwhile and needed endeavor, and are impressed with Kelvin’s essay and aspirations,” said FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. 

FFRF first launched a student scholarship essay competition shortly after it began as a national group in 1978. FFRF now offers three contests: one for college-bound high school seniors, one for ongoing college students and a third for graduate students and/or students age (25-30). Last year FFRF awarded over $34,000 in essay scholarships to a diverse range of students. 

FFRF also offers student and youth activist awards, several endowed by generous individual FFRF members. This year so far, FFRF has already awarded $7,000 to secular student activists. 

BSLA’s other scholars this year are: Jamion Allen, Hugo Cervantes, Elizabeth Hernandez and Tiare Hilland. They received $500-1,000 scholarships toward their college expenses. Read more about BSLA’s 2014 First in the Family Humanist Scholarships

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

 

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FFRF is a member of Atheist Alliance International.