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The Florida Legislature is advancing a pro-voucher, anti-vaccine bill that would jeopardize secular public education. Please urge your lawmakers to protect public schools and public school students rather than promoting religious privilege.

If passed, SB 582 would require public schools to inform all parents about voucher school options. FFRF has long documented the widespread fraud and mismanagement in voucher school programs, as well as the unconstitutionality of forcing taxpayers to fund private religious education.

Additionally, this bill would require schools to remind parents that they may opt their students out of required vaccinations. This not only compromises the health and safety of their own children, but also jeopardizes herd immunity for those who cannot receive vaccinations for health reasons.

The Florida Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on this bill tomorrow, March 2, at 1:30 p.m. Click on the red “Take Action” link to use our simple, automated system to contact all members of this committee to urge them to vote no on SB 582. Feel free to use or adapt the talking points provided.

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AddisEntanglement

 

The New Hampshire Legislature is considering a bill that would permit public schools in the state to display “In God We Trust” in every building. We need your help to ensure that young, impressionable students aren’t subject to religious proselytization.

This bill, HB 69, is part of the nationwide legislative push known as Project Blitz. Project Blitz seeks to inject state legislatures with a whole host of religious bills, imposing the theocratic version of a powerful few on We The People. It is an unvarnished attack on American secularism and civil liberties — those things we cherish most about our democracy and now must tirelessly defend.

While politicians claim that these laws are intended to showcase the national motto or inspire patriotism, it is clear that their true purpose is to peddle religiosity to a captive audience. These laws are about advancing the Big Lie that the United States was “founded on God” or Christianity, dismantling the wall of separation between religion and government. The motto “In God We Trust” is inaccurate, exclusionary and aimed at brainwashing American schoolchildren into believing that our nation is a theocracy.

The New Hampshire House Education Committee has a hearing scheduled on this bill tomorrow, Tuesday, March 2, at 2 p.m. Please use our automated system to contact all members of this committee and ask that they stop this bill in its tracks. Feel free to use or adapt the talking points provided.

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DivineGuidance

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is delighted to announce that Rep. Bobby Scott and 102 co-sponsors have reintroduced in Congress today the Do No Harm Act.

The bill would make certain that the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) is used only as a shield to protect religious freedom, rather than as a sword to harm religious minorities, women, LGBTQ citizens and nontheists. Until RFRA, religious freedom was never considered a license to violate the rights of another citizen.

RFRA will still protect religious exercise, such as ensuring Sikh individuals in the military may wear beards, when the Do No Harm Act passes. But it prevents RFRA from being abused to violate basic civil rights. Increasingly RFRA, first enacted in 1993, has been used to undermine anti-discrimination laws, such as by allowing employers to deny women employees insurance coverage for birth control, to turn away foster parents because they are the “wrong” religion or are LGBTQ, or to allow federal contractors to discriminate in employment.

RFRA as currently enacted has also led to evasion of child labor laws, refusal by government employees to perform duties, and denial of government-funded services.

More than 95 organizations, including FFRF, health, labor, civil rights, LGBTQ and religious groups, have endorsed the bill, along with civil rights advocates. FFRF and its members are engaging in a “Day of Action” today, March 1, to help the bill hit the ground running.

The Do No Harm Act was first introduced in 2016 in the House by Reps. Joe Kennedy III and Scott, and in the Senate in 2018 by lead sponsor Sen. Kamala Harris. Leading sponsors for the 2021 bill include Reps. Steve Cohen, Jamie Raskin and Mary Gay Scanlon.

“Religious freedom does not include the right to force your religion onto other citizens,” says FFRF Co-President Dan Barker. “Now is the time for Congress to act swiftly to protect true religious liberty by passing the Do No Harm Act.”

DivineGuidance

Members of Congress have reintroduced the Do No Harm Act, a crucial bill to curb the disastrous Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). Please take a moment to help ensure the bill makes a big splash by urging your representatives in Congress to support it.

When it was passed into law nearly 30 years ago, RFRA was purportedly intended to shield those with minority religious beliefs from the domination of the religious majority. As FFRF predicted at the time, however, the Religious Right has hijacked this law as an unfettered license to discriminate on behalf of the majority religion.

The Do No Harm Act is a common-sense bill that limits the laws RFRA applies to in order to make certain religious liberty cannot be wielded as a weapon to discriminate.

For instance, RFRA would no longer exempt believers from the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Violence Against Women Act. It also wouldn’t provide believers exemptions from laws that require employers to provide wages and other compensation or from laws that require coverage for any health care item. The Do No Harm Act, if enacted, could undo the damage caused by the U.S. Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision in 2014. That ruling allows employers and for-profit corporations to deny women workers contraceptive coverage on the basis of religious offense.

Religious freedom is already protected under the First Amendment. The Do No Harm Act will bring us one step closer to restoring true equality by preventing discrimination in the name of religious belief. With the federal judiciary packed full of President Trump-appointed judges who were hand-selected for their support to redefine religious liberty, it is more important than ever that Congress take this important step.

We are proud that Congressional Freethought Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Jamie Raskin, Md., and member Rep. Steve Cohen, Tenn., are two of the lead sponsors of the bill.

Please click on the red “Take Action!” link below and follow the prompt provided. Feel free to use or adapt the talking points provided.

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BlackCollarCrime

The Colorado Legislature is considering a good bill that would expand the rights of survivors of child sexual abuse. Please join FFRF in urging lawmakers to advance this bill and expand the window of justice for survivors to seek justice.

This bill, SB21-073, would remove the statute of limitations for civil actions regarding sexual misconduct, and would also remove several other restrictions that prevent sexual assault survivors from receiving justice through the courts if they don’t bring a lawsuit immediately following the assault.

In the wake of a string of reports of rampant sexual abuse by clergy in dioceses across the country in the last few years, many states have taken similar action to expand the window of justice for survivors of childhood sexual abuse. The Catholic Church has actively lobbied to keep these barriers to justice in place, compounding its disgusting history of protecting abusers and church assets at the expense of children under its care.

The Colorado Senate Health and Human Services Committee has a hearing on this bill tomorrow, Wednesday, Feb. 24, at 1:30 p.m. local time. FFRF has submitted written testimony in support of the bill. Please take a few moments to weigh in on this critical issue and urge the members of this committee to support SB21-073.

WAYS TO TAKE ACTION

  1. Click on the red “Take Action” link to use our automated system to contact all members of this committee and urge them to advance this bill.
  2. Submit testimony in support of this bill in writing or virtually during the hearing. Click here to find more information on how to submit testimony.
  3. Share this link on social media and encourage other Colorado residents to take action.
  4. Write your own online post or letter to the editor on this topic to further influence public opinion. Let us know if you get published!

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The U.S. House is slated to vote this week on the Equality Act (HR 5), a critical piece of legislation that would finally cement federal civil rights protections for LGBTQ Americans.

Please join FFRF in calling on Congress to immediately pass the long-overdue Equality Act.

Currently, 30 states have no anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people. In such states, LGBTQ individuals can be fired from their jobs, evicted from their homes, denied service from restaurants and stores or refused credit from banks simply because of their identity. The underpinning of this discrimination is religious doctrine that condemns LGBTQ individuals.

At every turn, Christian nationalists exploit this loophole in current federal civil rights law to discriminate under the guise of their distorted view of “religious liberty.”

Please use our simple, automated system and act now to urge your member of Congress to support the Equality Act. Feel free to use or adapt the talking points provided below. Personalized messages are always the most effective.

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1distancing

 

The Missouri Legislature is advancing several bad Covid-related bills that would jeopardize public health in favor of preferential treatment for churches.

Please join FFRF in calling on state lawmakers to reject these dangerous bills and instead prioritize the public safety of all Missouri residents.

The first two bills, HB 61 and HB 575, would prohibit emergency executive orders in the state from restricting worship services, giving religious gatherings preference over other secular gatherings and events. Another, HB 746, would additionally require hospitals to allow clergy to visit terminally ill patients in defiance of limits on outside guests to curb the spread of Covid-19. Finally, HB 308 would require that worship services be exempted from all social distancing requirements.

If passed, this package of bills would strip state and local leaders of nearly every tool shown to save lives by slowing the spread of this deadly virus. Governments already regularly limit worship gatherings that jeopardize public health. For instance, the government prohibits churches from cramming too many people into a building in violation of fire codes and also requires that church buildings comply with necessary building codes. Preventing large gatherings due to a pandemic is even more crucial. Limiting the size and scope of religious gatherings is not a ban on worship any more than speed limits are a ban on driving.

Read FFRF’s Covid state/church resources guide for more information.

The Missouri House Special Committee on Government Accountability has a hearing scheduled on these bills on Monday, Feb. 22, at 6 p.m. Please use our automated system to contact all members of this committee and urge them to prioritize public health and safety over the special interests of religious groups. Click on the red “Take Action” link below and feel free to use or adapt the talking points provided. You can also submit testimony on these bills through the committee’s website.

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2021LSECGraphic

 

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is announcing its third annual essay competition for law school students.

Law students are invited to submit a no more than 1,500 word essay on the dangers of adopting a broad “history test” to justify violations of the separation between state and church. The contest will award $10,000 in prize money, with $4,000 for first place, $3,000 for second and $2,000 for third place, plus $500 discretionary awards for honorable mentions.

This year’s topic explores a change in Supreme Court interpretation that has become central to state/church litigation in recent years. In Town of Greece v. Galloway, the Supreme Court wrote that “the Establishment Clause must be interpreted ‘by reference to historical practices and understandings.’” In the wake of that decision, courts have struggled to define the exact contours of the historical considerations at play, with some courts treating Galloway as announcing a broadly applicable “history test,” while others have continued to apply more traditional Establishment Clause tests.

The contest is open to ongoing law school students attending a North American law school, except those starting law school for the first time in the fall of 2021. Students remain eligible to enter this contest if they will graduate from law school by spring or summer of 2021.

Eligible entrants will receive a one-year complimentary student membership in FFRF, including a digital version of 10 issues of Freethought Today, FFRF's newspaper, which publishes winning student essays. The deadline is midnight on June 15, 2021.

Contest entrants must fill out an application form online, which also details other requirements, and attach their essay.

FFRF will announce and post topics and prompts for its three longstanding undergraduate essay contests and one graduate essay contest by the end of February.

1OuchVouchers

The Florida Legislature is considering an expansion of the state’s school voucher system, which would divert even more money from public school into private, almost exclusively religious, education. Please take a few moments to tell Florida lawmakers to oppose this damaging proposal.

If passed, SB 48 would allow families that earn up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level to qualify for the state’s school voucher program. Additionally, this bill would reduce the frequency of private and charter school audit, further decreasing already minimal accountability.

Voucher schemes like the one under consideration for expansion in Florida financially devastate public schools and would force Florida taxpayers to fund private religious education. Lacking oversight and accountability, voucher schemes in states across the country also invariably lead to widespread fraud and mismanagement.

Read FFRF’s “The Case Against Vouchers.”

The Florida Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Education has a hearing scheduled on SB 48 tomorrow, Feb. 17, at 3:30 p.m. Please use our automated system to contact all members of the subcommittee and urge them to vote no on this proposal. Click on the red “Take Action” button and feel free to use or adapt the talking points provided.

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Protect Abortion rights

 

The South Dakota Legislature is deliberating on two extremist anti-abortion bills that threaten reproductive rights in the state. Please take action today to tell legislators to protect reproductive freedom and oppose these dangerous bills.

HB 1130 would ban abortion performed based on the fetus’ sex and would peddle misinformation about “abortion reversal” in the case of medicated abortion. HB 1110 would prohibit abortions if they are performed due to the fetus being diagnosed with Down Syndrome.

Each of these measures employ a favorite tactic of the Religious Right — passing legislation that will restrict access to abortion under the guise of anti-discrimination protections. This is a smoke-and-mirrors attempt to restrict access to reproductive health care without actually increasing resources or social services for people who give birth to children with disabilities. Additionally, spreading disinformation about a so-called “abortion reversal” procedure, which the American Medication Association calls “a patently false and unproven claim unsupported by scientific evidence,” could have potentially deadly consequences.

These bills aim to codify into law beliefs not based on science or morality, but on religion and so-called holy books. The Christian Right has been and remains the primary opponent to women’s reproductive rights. Almost 70 physicians and medical students in South Dakota have signed a letter opposing each bill.

The South Dakota House State Affairs Committee has a hearing scheduled on these bills tomorrow morning at 7:45 a.m. local time. Please take a few moments to contact all members of this committee and urge them to oppose these extremist proposals. Click on the red “Take Action” link below and feel free to use or adapt the talking points provided.

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FootinDoor

The Nebraska Legislature is considering a bill that would require all schools to display “In God We Trust” in every classroom or another “prominent location” and also would require the state attorney general to intervene and defend any school sued over its display.

We need your help to ensure that Nebraska schoolchildren are not subjected to government-sponsored proselytizing.

This bill, LB 36, is part of the nationwide legislative push Project Blitz, which seeks to inject state legislatures across the country with a whole host of religious bills. It is an unvarnished attack on American secularism and civil liberties, imposing the theocratic vision of a powerful few on We, The People.

While politicians claim that these laws are intended to showcase the national motto or inspire patriotism, it is clear that their true purpose is to peddle religiosity to a captive audience. The motto “In God We Trust” is inaccurate, exclusionary, and aimed at brainwashing American schoolchildren into believing that our nation is a theocracy.

The Nebraska Education Committee has a hearing scheduled on this bill on March 2 at 1:30 p.m. local time. Please click on the red “Take Action” button to use our simple, automated system to contact the members of this committee and urge them to oppose this bill. Feel free to use or adapt the talking points provided, or write your own.

We also encourage you to submit written or live virtual testimony during the committee meeting. For more information on how to do this, follow the instructions provided on the committee’s website.

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