In defense of FFRF

Robert McClain’s op-ed published Nov. 26 in the Newark Advocate in Ohio:

Let’s set the record straight regarding the Freedom From Religion Found­ation and its complaint against the Licking Valley School District by responding to a letter published Nov. 15. I will attempt to talk Mr. McBride down off the high horse from which he impugns FFRF’s mission and its executives. The author is entitled to his opinion, but not to create his own facts, an unsavory but common habit of Christian apologists.

FFRF exists for two reasons: to promote the constitutional principle of the separation of church and state, and to educate the public on matters related to nontheism. If Licking Valley obeyed the laws prohibiting the promotion of any religion (in this case the Christian faith) on public property by publicly paid employees, FFRF would have no reason to send warning letters. Since coaches like Randy Baughman are paid roughly $5,714 in public funds, and the coach and players were praying on a publicly financed field at a publicly financed high school, the complaint is legitimate.

Mr. McBride claimed in his letter to have “learned” about FFRF, but I submit that his idea of “learning” has nothing to do with fact gathering and more to do with insult and innuendo. Charity Navigator, an online rating system for nonprofits, gives FFRF a rating of 97 out of 100, higher than AARP (88), the Southern Poverty Law Center (87) or the American Family Association (92), a Christian advocacy group. In short, FFRF exceeds all reasonable standards of transparency and accountability, which is more than can be said for the Vatican, the Southern Baptist Convention or virtually any religious institution. Unlike religious bodies, FFRF files a complete IRS form 990 detailing all income and expenses each year. Unlike more than 1,600 churches just this year, FFRF does not engage in electioneering via the pulpit or church bulletin, and obeys all laws governing nonprofit institutions. These are the facts, stubborn as they are for the author to entertain.

What appears to stick in the author’s craw the most is that his Christian privilege was violated because people of his faith were asked to obey the law. The law applies to all citizens. FFRF launches more complaints against Christian institutions because Christians are the most frequent violators of the law. FFRF has never denied anyone the right to practice their religion in any manner that respects the law. The author should learn to deal in facts, not religious ranting.

Freedom From Religion Foundation