Atheist legal crusader Jessica Ahlquist on FFRF TV show this Sunday

Jessica Ahlquist

 A person who became the target of national opprobrium when she stood up for her secular rights as a teenager is interviewed on the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s Sunday TV show.

“Freethought Matters” catches up with Jessica Ahlquist, the courageous teenage atheist plaintiff who was roundly persecuted for suing over religion in her Rhode Island public school, including being branded “an evil little thing” by her state representative. She was only 16 when she won her lawsuit in 2012, after which she required a police escort just to safely attend school. Ahlquist looks back on what it was like to be in the middle of a legal firestorm, but says she would do it all over again. The show incorporates news clips, including when CNN interviewed Ahlquist about her victory.

“After the new school year started, they started to have these meetings to discuss whether or not parents would like to stay or be removed,” she recounts to “Freethought Matters” co-hosts Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor. “I got involved in those and presented myself as an atheist to a room of people who had shown up to attend this meeting. I didn’t know quite what that was going to mean, using that word to describe myself at that time and at that place, and someone audibly gasped when I said I was an atheist. I was called a witch.”

If you don’t live in the quarter-plus of the nation where the show broadcasts on Sunday, you can already catch the interview on FFRF’s YouTube channel. You can also receive notifications when we post new episodes of Freethought Matters by subscribing to FFRF’s YouTube channel.

This is the fall/spring season’s 34th episode of “Freethought Matters,” airing in over a dozen cities on Sunday, April 18.

Coming shows include interviews with Debbie and Dan Weisman, whose Supreme Court case halted graduation prayers, actor Alice Greczyn, author of Wayward: A Memoir of Spiritual Warfare and Sexual Purity, feminist legend Robin Morgan and Megan Phelps-Roper, author of the memoir Unfollow: A Memoir of Loving and Leaving the Westboro Baptist Church.

“Freethought Matters” airs in:

  • Chicago, WPWR-CW (Ch. 50), Sundays at 9 a.m.
  • Denver, KWGN-CW (Ch. 2), Sundays at 7 a.m.
  • Houston, KUBE-IND (Ch. 57), Sundays at 9 a.m.
  • Los Angeles, KCOP-MY (Ch. 13), Sundays at 8:30 a.m.
  • Madison, Wis., WISC-TV (Ch. 3), Sundays at 11 p.m.
  • Minneapolis, KSTC-IND (Ch. 45), Sundays at 9:30 a.m.
  • New York City, WPIX-IND (Ch. 11), Sundays at 8:30 a.m.
  • Phoenix, KASW-CW (Ch. 61, or 6 or 1006 for HD), Sundays at 8:30 a.m.
  • Portland, Ore., KRCW-CW (Ch. 32), Sundays at 9 a.m. Comcast channel 703 for High Def, or Channel 3.
  • Sacramento, KQCA-MY (Ch. 58), Sundays at 8:30 a.m.
  • San Francisco, KICU-IND (Ch. 36), Sundays at 10 a.m.
  • Seattle, KONG-IND (Ch. 16 or Ch. 106 on Comcast). Sundays at 8 a.m.
  • Washington, D.C., WDCW-CW (Ch. 50 or Ch. 23 or Ch. 3), Sundays at 8 a.m.

Previous guests from the fall season include: pundit Eleanor Clift, whose interview you can watch here, actor and FFRF After-Life Member John de Lancie of “Star Trek” “Q” fame, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Linda Greenhouse, the country’s leading analyst of the U.S. Supreme Court, and legislative stalwart and feminist and civil rights pioneer U.S. Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton. One of the most eminent public intellectuals in the world, Professor Steven Pinker, was interviewed a few episodes ago talking about his new course on rationality. Legendary TV host, actor and singer John Davidson was the guest in early December. Recently, the show featured Ann Druyan, the co-creator of “Cosmos,” possibly the most acclaimed TV series of all time. A.C. Grayling, a prominent British philosopher and the author of about 30 books, grappled on the show with philosophy and the pandemic, and discussed how he himself dealt as a nonbeliever with a personal tragedy. A couple of weeks ago, the interview was with Rep. Jerry McNerney, a co-founder of the Congressional Freethought Caucus. 

Watch previous seasons here, including interviews with Ron Reagan, Julia Sweeney and Ed Asner, as well as U.S. Reps. Jared Huffman and Jamie Raskin, co-chairs of the Congressional Freethought Caucus.

Please tune in to “Freethought Matters” . . . because freethought matters.

P.S. Please tune in or record according to the times given above regardless of what is listed in your TV guide (it may be listed simply as “paid programming” or even be misidentified). To set up an automatic weekly recording, try taping manually by time or channel. And spread the word to freethinking friends, family or colleagues about a TV show, finally, that is dedicated to providing programming for freethinkers!

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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