If video does not appear, click here to watch the 5:30 “Spotlight On!”
The Freedom From Religion Foundation’s first-of-its-kind feature production for use as educational filler on public television affiliates aired more than 1,430 times over three months late last year. This is the first such segment featuring discussion of freethought, atheism and focusing on the specific dangers of mixing state and church.
The four-minute “Spotlight on Freethought and the First Amendment” featured interviews with FFRF Co-Presidents Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor. The longer version, over five minutes, included a bonus interview with “secularity” expert, sociologist and author Professor Phil Zuckerman of Pitzer University. Local public TV affiliates were given the option to use either spot, or both, as fillers.
For the first time in the history of Spotlight Productions, more affiliates ran the longer version — “a compliment to Phil Zuckerman,” says Gaylor. The longer version aired 731 times, in 136 station airings. The short version aired 699 times with 142 station airings.
The two shows each reached more than 3.6 million public TV viewers, according to the Nielsen ratings. Markets airing one or both of the spots included high population airings such as New York City and Los Angeles, as well as a diversity of smaller markets nationwide. In the Salt Lake City area, for instance, served by five area public TV affiliates including in Provo, FFRF’s spots ran 62 times last fall.
The broadcasts are audited by Nielson only for the first three months after the show is released. But FFRF’s two “Spotlights” may continue to air for years as filler.
View the videos at FFRF’s YouTube Channel.
Click here for the longer version (“TV version”), including Zuckerman’s interview.
Additionally a “bonus track version” of nearly seven minutes (FFRF special), which includes additional footage with Dan Barker, is currently prominently featured at FFRF’s website homepage, FFRF.org. Click here to view the bonus track.
The O'Reilly Factor
By Bill O'Reilly
U.S. District Judge Terrence McVerry ruled Jan. 22 that the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s challenge to a Ten Commandments monument in front of a Pennsylvania high school will go forward. McVerry rejected a motion to dismiss by the New Kensington-Arnold School District and issued an order that directs the district to file an answer to the plaintiffs’ complaint.
FFRF and two families filed suit in September 2012 against the school district over the prominent placement of a Ten Commandments monument at Valley High School. The district sought to dismiss the case by claiming that it had been “foreclosed” by the Supreme Court’s Van Orden v. Perry decision in 2005, which allowed a similar monument on the Texas Capitol grounds to stand.
FFRF’s brief argued that there are significant factual and legal distinctions between the cases, most notably, that the Supreme Court has ruled against Ten Commandments displays in the school context.
McVerry’s opinion stated that the First Amendment claim “has sufficient merit under our current jurisprudence.” He noted that at this preliminary stage, “there is no meaningful evidence to support the School District’s attack on the merits of Plaintiffs’ case and thus the ‘foreclosure’ argument is unavailing at this time.”
The court issued an order in December that allowed three of the plaintiffs to proceed using pseudonyms, finding that there was a substantial public interest in protecting them from retribution from upset members of the community. The court will hold a scheduling conference in February.
FFRF, with local families, is also suing over a nearly identical violation in Connellsville, Pa.