Fahringer Helps Defeat Prayer Resolution (September 1994)

“Well, thank goodness, Bexar County is not on its way to becoming the 160th stupidest Texas county to pass a prayer resolution,” reports Foundation officer Catherine Fahringer, a San Antonio activist.

Although the Bexar County Commissioners Court has no authority over prayer in school, a resolution was placed on its agenda at the request of Prayers for America. The San Antonio organization is joining forces with various Texas officials to attempt to garner grassroots support for government-sponsored prayer from all 254 Texas counties. It has been successful in persuading about 159 counties to pass a resolution in support of organized school prayers, reading, in part:

“Commissioners Court believes that voluntary prayer in our public schools conforms with the religious ideals and beliefs upon which this nation was founded.”

Following an August 17 hearing, in which five people, including Fahringer, spoke out against the resolution, it was withdrawn from consideration by County Judge Cyndi Krier. Cliff Lindsay, leader of Prayers for America, was there wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the slogan: “Replace Crossing Guards With Prayers,” according to Fahringer.

Foundation member Jim Berry testified: “If you urge schoolchildren to pray, you must decide what kinds of prayers you will permit. Would you permit Santerian prayers with the appropriate animal sacrifices? Native American prayers with appropriate psychedelic substances?

“I urge you to value freedom over conformity, . . . and to uphold our Constitution.”

Catherine Fahringer told the body:

“Mr. Lindsay is misguided in his belief that he is restoring rights to schoolchildren. In truth, the rights he seeks to ‘restore’ have never been taken away.

“I assure you that any school child in any public school is free to pray at any time, barring kneeling in a crowded hallway and obstructing hall traffic, or praying in class so loudly that it disrupts the educational process, that is.”

She added: “We cannot force prayers on our children. The Muslim child, the Buddhist child, the Jewish child, the freethinker child must not be singled out as different from, and less acceptable than, Christian schoolmates. This country does not need to force its citizens to pray; it needs, instead, to work on conquering the bigotry which lurks under the mantle of Christianity.”

“Freethought Week” Is On In San Antonio

The Foundation’s San Antonio activist Catherine Fahringer has won approval for a “Freethought Week” proclamation by the Mayor of San Antonio, who will read the proclamation in the council chambers on October 6, proclaiming October 8-15, 1994, as “Freethought Week.”

Catherine is also organizing a “Rally for Reason” on October 8, followed by a celebratory dinner and program on October 11.

Foundation member David Schreiber initially proposed that freethinkers commemorate the date of October 12, 1992, since it was the 300th anniversary of the cessation of the Salem witchcraft trials, by edict of Governor William Phips, who declared “spectral evidence” no longer admissible in court.

“It is hoped that this focus on October 12th will become an annual freethought event across the country,” urges Catherine. “Let’s make this a combined effort to honor reason during that week, thereby putting freethought into public consciousness. Our closet is the last one still shut; it’s time to come out and be proud to stand in support of reason. After all, what could be more reasonable!”

Freedom From Religion Foundation