To celebrate Constitution Day, FFRF recounts memorable victories

 

Today we celebrate Constitution Day, the 232nd anniversary of the adoption of America’s godless Constitution. Commemorating this anniversary is very important, as constitutional rights, including the constitutional principle of separation between state and church, have never been in more peril.

Just yesterday, the Arizona Supreme Court granted businesses citing a “sincerely held religious belief” a right to discriminate against LGBTQ citizens, codifying a favored legal status for Christian business owners. The Religious Right has taken up arms to redefine religious freedom as the right to discriminate based on religious beliefs. Project Blitz, the Christian Nationalist stealth campaign, is flooding state legislatures across the country with a host of draconian bills to entangle religion with government and public schools.

To celebrate Constitution Day, the Freedom From Religion Foundation is reaffirming the importance of our commitment to preserve our revolutionarily secular Constitution, by sharing some of our favorite moments about what the Constitution means to us.

As part of the Constitutional Accountability Center’s #ConstitutionalMoment event, several FFRF staff members are sharing videos commemorating a meaningful Constitutional Moment that they won’t forget.

FFRF Legal Director Rebecca Markert recounts a court victory FFRF secured for a group of young students in Jackson, Ohio, which led to the removal of a “portrait” of Jesus from a public school where it was displayed for 40 years. The victory was especially sweet given the 300 protesters who showed up at a school board meeting to demand the religious painting stay put.

“This moment sticks with me because it shows just how important the Bill of Rights is today in protecting minorities from the majority,” Markert says. “Two of our plaintiffs were nonbelievers and one was a Christian. What courage they had to stand up for the Constitution against the Christian mob in their community. That we were able to get a court order agreeing with them, get the painting removed, and make the schools a more inclusive place for young children of all faiths or none at all is one I’ll never forget.”

Director of Strategic Response Andrew Seidel, Associate Counsel Elizabeth Cavell and Staff Attorney Ryan Jayne each offered their Constitutional Moment to the event. FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor reminisced about being one of the plaintiffs overturning Wisconsin’s unconstitutional Good Friday law, which mandated that citizens had to worship on Good Friday afternoons. It was a highly unpopular law because, to the public’s annual frustration, it shut down all public buildings and governmental services — including universities and public libraries. Gaylor celebrated the 1996 victory by taking her young daughter to a public library for the first time on the afternoon of Good Friday. “Now in Wisconsin, Good Fridays are really good Fridays,” she said. Hear the rest of the stories on FFRF's YouTube channel.

Despite the vicious attacks on American secularism occurring at many levels of government, FFRF will continue to fight for the rights of nonbelievers and the fundamental constitutional principle of separation between state and church.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational charity, is the nation's largest association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics), and has been working since 1978 to keep religion and government separate.

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