Below, Mike Huckabee's anti-FFRF letter is reprinted in full with FFRF's comments and corrections interjected. (FFRF's remarks can be found in the sections with wider margins and a larger font.) Enjoy.
Huckabee might be careful who he calls a “zealot.” It’s not FFRF, it was the revolutionary framers of our Constitution who “erased” any deity from that secular document, setting up a government that doesn’t take sides about religion, leaving private citizens free to believe or disbelieve. Unfortunately, it’s the Trump Administration that is packing the judiciary with judges handpicked by the Religious Right. In less than two years Trump has already appointed more federal appeals court judges than 2-term presidents Barack Obama or George W. Bush combined. Now that’s scary!
Religious Right rule number one in fundraising: Invoke Ronald Reagan. But at the Freedom From Religion Foundation, we have on our side his son, Ron Reagan, an “unabashed atheist, not afraid of burning in hell.”
As the Treaty of Tripoli, signed by President John Adams in 1797 demonstrated, the “government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.” The religious persecution in the old world and in many of the original colonies — mostly committed by one set of Christians against another set of Christians — is what inspired the wise framers of our Constitution to make America first among nations to separate religion from government, barring any religious test for public office.
We’re truly flattered, thank you! However, we correct the record to note FFRF has never sued over state/church violations in Tecumseh or Harrisburg, . . . at least not yet. We litigate as we have funds to safeguard the First Amendment. As Martin Luther King, Jr., correctly observed, injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
Nothing fails like prayer, Mr. Huckabee. And yes, Huckabee’s referring to that Citizens United.
Correction: Citizens United has literally never done anything to “stand up” to FFRF. Huckabee is raising money under false pretenses.
Another complete fabrication. What we’ve been campaigning for over the past 40 years is to ensure that reason and our Constitution will prevail. If we could be said to have any campaign, it’s one to Reclaim a Secular America. (While a majority of our 32,000 members are atheists, FFRF welcomes freethinkers of every stripe—including agnostics, skeptics and humanists.) Huckabee’s pandering letter, however, repeats the lie about this nonexistent “Atheist America” campaign 13 more times!
FFRF is not trying to erase anyone’s religion. We work to ensure that governmental officials don’t abuse their public offices to force their personal religion on citizens. Huckabee can even pray on a public sidewalk or street. He just might want to heed the admonition by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount not to pray publicly, “like the hypocrites.”
Again, thank you for noticing! FFRF has won some amazing victories for the First Amendment, including 15 lawsuits, settlements or rounds since January 2016.
FFRF indeed sued in the past to remove “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance. The originally secular pledge was tampered with in 1954, when theocrats successfully got Congress to insert the divisive phrase “under God.” Some day, secularists are going to win that fight. We hope Huckabee is around to see it.
We’ve never forced any public school teachers or coaches to hide their faith in their private lives. But we have ensured that employees at public schools do not misuse the machinery of the state to impose their personal religion upon a captive audience of students.
As Huckabee knows, nobody ever “banned prayer.” Students are free to pray privately and non-disruptively, or even to form religious student clubs at most schools. But school officials may not organize, promote, schedule or impose prayer on students at school events. And “amen” to that!
FFRF is proud to currently have 14 ongoing lawsuits, three of which were filed so far this year. Well over 70 previous FFRF lawsuits have been settled — a majority in our favor. We actually wish this claim by Huckabee was not an exaggeration. We’d be delighted, if we had the financial support, to file dozens of new lawsuits in the near future, because the wall of separation between religion and government is being besieged.
We don’t have the power to ban nativity scenes. That’s the Constitution you’re thinking of. And we don’t work to remove religious displays from “public places” — only when governmental property is commandeered to promote Christianity.
We haven’t stopped students from learning about the bible, we’ve stopped devotional bible classes that preach the bible as literal truth. Teaching about the bible in an academic and educational context, such as a high school comparative religion class, is constitutional. Devotional instruction and ritual are properly out of bounds.
No courts have ever ruled that Christian crosses, the preeminent symbol of Christianity, may be planted permanently on governmental property. Crosses are not being removed from “public view” — only from public parks, public schools, etc. Keep those crosses where they belong — on private property.
Cheer up, Mike! We’re protecting and upholding your Constitution.
Honestly, we’re surprised it took until page three of Huckabee's 10-page letter before the “gimme-money” demand. Oh, and by the way, there’s still no Campaign for an Atheist America.
We’re everywhere, Mike. But honestly, there’s no comparison between the modest means of FFRF with that of the groups you’re schilling for. FFRF devoutly hopes your attack on us will generate new supporters for us, so that we can really roll up our sleeves and get to work defending reason and our secular Constitution.
Don’t forget Tennessee, Wisconsin, New Jersey, Texas, Missouri, Washington, Illinois, and other states where FFRF stopped public schools from doing this. Please point us to the part of the Constitution that says government employees can impose worship music that glorifies their particular god on a diverse population of children?
Stalker much? That’s an issue we settled back in 2016. This district permitted “school chaplains” to enter public schools during instructional time and work with elementary school kids. The district made changes to ensure that there was no religious instruction, promotion, or indoctrination. Instead of chaplains, the school brought in character coaches who can work with students of any religion or no religion. Everyone is included, everyone benefits, and the law is obeyed.
Christian students “who DO want to meet with Christian Chaplains” can do so at church or in after school programs. Churches do not get to use the machinery of the state to promote religion.
What’s with the scare quotes around that wonderful concept of civil rights? Anyway, yes, FFRF sued over and stopped this egregious violation in elementary schools. These classes indoctrinated children as young as first graders. The textbook included pictures of humans walking around with dinosaurs. Students were asked to “picture Adam being able to crawl up on the back of a dinosaur! He and Eve could have their own personal water slide! Wouldn’t that be so wild!” We’re proud of our successful litigation.
Whoa, that’s a lie. FFRF never sued over this memorial on Capitol state grounds. FFRF sent a letter supporting the memorial, but suggesting the secular versions under consideration were more appropriate than the sectarian memorial. “To align the State of Ohio with one religion and its sacred symbol—even a minority religion for a worthy memorial—would dishonor the truest protection our country has against a similar holocaust on our shores: the precious constitutional principle separating religion from government.”
We’re reminded of the old commercials for Pace Picante Salsa where the cowboy finds out his compadre is from “New York City!? Get a rope.” The New York libs. The Hollywood radicals. Values. Traditional Values (i.e., pro-theocracy, anti-gay, anti-women’s rights, etc.). Huckabee certainly invokes the greatest hits for right wing buzzwords.
We all know Little Rock, Arkansas, to be the heart of atheist country.
We’re already there, Mike. Almost 1 in 4 Americans identifies as nonreligious. “Nones” are the fastest-growing demographic in the country. Generation Z, our youngest Americans, are even more nonreligious, with 21% openly identifying as atheist or agnostic.
Isn’t there something in the bible about not bearing false witness? Huckabee’s statement is untrue, defamatory and frankly, to use Huckabee’s words, “utterly disgusting.” FFRF’s monthly newspaper catalogs black collar crimes committed by religious leaders, by the way, especially sexual abuse against minors, such as the pedophile priests in Pennsylvania noted in the Grand Jury report who ran a child pornography ring.
It’s no contest. We’ve got “We the People” and the Constitution. Huckabee has only lies and fear-mongering.
The only reason such jurisdictions “can’t afford to fight” is because they are breaking the law.
This is definitely our favorite part of the letter. We’re tickled pink to hear that Mike Huckabee is “so afraid” of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. Our legal team — those talented but modestly paid attorneys who’ve dedicated their careers to working at a non-profit when far more lucrative careers were available — was doubled over in laughter when this was read aloud at our legal meeting. Passionate, brilliant, hard-working, erudite, committed, and with a wonderful esprit de corps, sure; but not slick or well-funded.
It’s ironic to accuse FFRF of attacking the “heartland of our country,” when FFRF itself sprang from and is based in America’s heartland, where many communities have historic ties to freethought. Also, easy on the drama there, buddy. You’re no Shakespeare, lighten up.
Good people can do the right thing and help FFRF uphold the Constitution. Join today!
By the way, this much mis-attributed quote is actually traced back to a similar statement by none other than celebrated freethinker, John Stuart Mill. Mill repudiated miracles and dogma, defending rationalism. Mill wrote in Utility of Religion, published in 1874, that belief "in the supernatural . . . cannot be considered to be any longer required . . . " He wrote in his Autobiography (1873): "The world would be astonished if it knew how great a proportion of its brightest ornaments—of those most distinguished even in popular estimation for wisdom and virtue—are complete skeptics in religion.” Mill would have considered Huckabee and Citizens United Foundation to be the “bad men."
Again, the state and its public schools cannot organize, legitimize, impose, promote, or amplify prayers. Students remain free to pray privately on their own, so long as they don’t disrupt the education or activities of others.
More than 65 years of Supreme Court precedent in ruling after ruling against school prayer and religious instruction has wisely recognized that religion in school builds walls between children, and turns nonreligious and minority religion children into targets for ostracism and bullying. Indoctrination of public school students, including the youngest and most impressionable, violates their freedom of conscience, as well as the prerogative of parents to decide how or whether to instruct their own children about religion.
Shame on Huckabee et. al., for openly seeking to turn the clock back to the bad old days of coat hangers, back alley abortions, social stigma against “unwed mothers,” prosecution of women seeking to end unwanted pregnancies and of the physicians who honor women’s autonomy. FFRF got its start after founder Anne Nicol Gaylor’s experiences championing the legalization of abortion. She quickly realized the only organized opposition to reproductive rights is religious, and that women could never be free if dogma is inscribed in our laws.
You mean the religious edicts that begin “I AM THE LORD YOUR GOD. YOU SHALL HAVE NO OTHER GODS BEFORE ME”? Government has no business telling citizens which gods to have, how many gods to have, or whether to have any gods at all! The eminently unconstitutional First Commandment, the antithesis of our First Amendment, is part of the set of commandments that condones slavery, treats women as chattel, and promises to punish innocent children (to the third and fourth generation) for the spiritual "crimes" of their parents.
There’s no War on Christmas, a phony Fox TV construct that Mike Huckabee, a minister and former Fox TV host, knows all about. But there is a war on the Constitution, and Huckabee is trying to add to the war chest.
Again, there is no such campaign. But do tell us more about this oh so important petition.
Yes, FFRF is truly wily. You’ll never know where we’re going to strike next . . . unless you read our press releases. (We’re supposed to buy the idea that the petitions are the point, not the donations Huckabee’s begging for?)
First, Mike Huckabee (and his daughter) might be careful about calling other people “bullies.” Second, there are no such FFRF lawsuits underway. Third, we are very interested that Huckabee will not be countering thoughtfully crafted legal letters with substance or counter legal arguments, but instead will be relying on what is essentially a mob. The idea that fundamental rights — such as the right to freedom from religion — can be voted away, runs counter to the Bill of Rights. “The very purpose of a Bill of Rights was to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of majorities and officials and to establish them as legal principles to be applied by the courts.” West Virginia Bd. of Ed. v. Barnette at 638. The Bill of Rights exists to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority. The Supreme Court has expressly addressed this, noting that “fundamental rights may not be submitted to vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections.” Santa Fe Indep. Sch. Dist. v. Doe, 530 U.S. 290, 304-305 (2000) (quoting West Virginia Bd. of Ed. v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624, 638 (1943)).
It really doesn’t. Please join FFRF in working for secularism, pluralism, equality and equal justice under the law and against fundamentalist no-nothings like Mike Huckabee.
Is this some sort of chain letter pyramid scheme? What a con.
Huckabee’s stumbled upon one truth. FFRF’s work to defend the Enlightenment is indeed not slowing down. We’ve never been larger, nor have we ever faced more challenges. Please join us in our work to outfox theocrats like Mike Huckabee.
If we at FFRF had a dollar for every time some troll or hate mailer advised us to leave the country for supporting the constitution, . . . we’d be able to file some new lawsuits! We know how insulting that suggestion is. So tempted as we are to suggest Huckabee might want to move, we’ll refrain.
Huckabee sees a Christian nation captive to his god and his holy book, where “every knee shall bow, … every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” FFRF sees an America governed by a secular Constitution, where We the People reign supreme and citizens can think as they please.
Huckabee hasn’t seen the high water mark for FFRF. We are growing every year. We are winning more and more cases. We are curing more and more constitutional violations. You ain’t seen nothing yet, Mike.
This man needs help. He must have hypergraphia!
Repeat: Citizens United and Huckabee are raising money under false pretenses.
Citizens United has never “stood” against FFRF. Ever. And FFRF does not have a campaign called "Campaign for an Atheist America." Our members — whether atheist, agnostic or freethinker — work with us to fortify the wall of separation between church and state, to reclaim a secular America.
A shrinking majority, so maybe don’t hang your hat on that fact. If you want to peacefully exercise your religion, go for it. But just so we’re clear, that doesn’t mean you can use your religion to violate the rights of others. For instance, you can’t refuse to provide service to people in a place of public accommodation because you claim your god doesn’t like them.
Not so. Just don’t use governmental offices, resources or property to impose your god on other citizens. In short, do what the Constitution requires.
Yes, most FFRF’ers don’t believe in your god. And we don’t know what you mean by the oddly capitalized “Sacred rights.” But we do believe in your constitutional rights, including the right to freely exercise your religion. What you fail to grasp is that the best protection for that right is a secular government. The best safeguard for religious freedom is a government that is free from religion. So maybe stop fighting us and starting joining us.
Help FFRF foil Huckabee and Citizens United Foundation’s unscrupulous scheme to profit off of FFRF’s vital work. Join us today or make a contribution to FFRF’s Legal Fund — our genuine Campaign to Reclaim a Secular America.