FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor’s speech: Speaking of reason

Annie Laurie Gaylor’s remarks at the Reason Rally

Mark Twain once said heaven for climate – hell for company. And how’s this for good company?

It’s awe-inspiring to see so many unabashed atheists — and agnostics — who aren’t afraid of burning in hell, or of making our voices heard.

I’m Annie Laurie Gaylor. As a third-generation freethinker, I co-founded the Freedom From Religion Foundation with my mother, Anne Nicol Gaylor. Anne was a true firebrand for feminism and freethought. Anne’s experiences in the early 1970s battling for legal abortion opened our eyes to the absolute necessity of keeping religious dogma out of our civil laws — especially laws affecting women.

FFRF has grown from two of us to nearly 24,000 dues-paying members. FFRF is a national state/church watchdog and our message is: Beware of dogma. Once religion gets into our government and our social policies — watch out!

Lawrence Krauss kindly mentioned FFRF’s full-page ad in The New York Times this week, talking about how Congress discriminates against atheists, and very specifically one atheist — Dan Barker! This ad’s also running in this weekend’s USA Today and look for the ad in tomorrow’s [Sunday, June 5] Washington Post. FFRF’s election year message is: “I’m an atheist and I vote.” See if you can spot our message now up in 70 nearby locations right here in downtown D.C. — where legislators can’t miss it.

FFRF is fighting to buttress that besieged wall of separation between state and church — because we know it’s the only barrier standing between us and theocracy.

FFRF has seven attorneys on staff, who ended 240 major violations last year alone! Last year, we also won five significant state/church lawsuits, such as: removing a Ten Commandments monument from a public school in Pennsylvania; stopping teachers in Georgia from forcing kindergartners to pray and from telling a first-grader her mother was a “bad person” for not believing in God.

FFRF has 14 ongoing lawsuits in court including eight suits filed already this year to stop government promotion of religion. This spring, we won a federal court victory against prayers at public school board meetings. This week, we just won a federal lawsuit stopping a really outrageous violation — removing Christian crosses from Texas police cars. [See front page for story.]

We’re not a Christian nation — our Constitution is godless.

Unfortunately, reactionary religious lobbies threaten our constitutional rights. The latest assault is the campaign to legalize discrimination — to allow someone else’s religion to trump your civil rights. Tell your congressperson to support the “Do No Harm” bill amending the so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act that brought us that horrible Hobby Lobby ruling, cosponsored by our speaker today, U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott, one of my heroes. Civil rights shouldn’t be dependent on your zip code —and fanatics shouldn’t be allowed to drive our social agenda or run Congress.

We’re here at the Reason Rally to tell Capitol Hill and candidates about secular citizens — the fastest growing segment of the population, to act on our concerns: civil liberties, equality, science education, climate change and its root cause — overpopulation, as Bill Nye laudably points out, reproductive rights, and that all-American principle of separation between state and church.

When you vote this year, you’re not voting for president — you’re voting for the next Supreme Court justice. We must break the 4-4 court deadlock so reason and compassion can prevail in one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

We invite you to become a part of our essential work to educate the public about nontheism, and to get religion out of government — by joining us at FFRF.org.

And now, Dan Barker wants to tell you a story . . .

Freedom From Religion Foundation