Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. FFRF.org

It Pays to Complain

Vol. 36 No. 01 Jan/Feb 2019
Peter Bates                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

FFRF Member Peter Bates holds a framed poster created by a group he co-founded, the Sun City Center Freethinkers of Florida. During the holiday season, two of the posters were hung in the largest community centers, the result of over a year’s negotiation with the community association. The group  convinced them that the current Christian display needed balance to reflect the community’s diverse population. The poster promoted a secular message for the holidays. It was seen by several thousand people as they visited the two community centers.


No more nativity scene

FFRF Member Sarah Knopp of Indiana sent us her success story:

“For years, the small town in rural Indiana where I live has had a large, wooden nativity scene on the courthouse square lawn. Of course, being a lifelong freethinker and a member of FFRF, this has always bothered me. Toward the end of last year’s [2017] holiday season, I got up my nerve (motivated by FFRF) and sent an anonymous letter to the county commissioners, explaining very diplomatically why this practice is unfair to many and unconstitutional. 

“I am very pleased to tell you that it is not among the holiday decorations anywhere in town this year! I am somewhat proud of my little town for making things right without a lot of fuss. I hope that the news coverage about small towns and school corporations usually being on the losing side of these types of arguments and lawsuits has helped them “see the light.” Thank you for all that you do!”


Member gets nontheistic affidavit

I’m an FFRF member who’s currently incarcerated in a state prison in Oregon. Recently, I was filling out paperwork for a clemency petition when I was given pause by the affidavit required to be submitted along with it. The legal form included a religious oath (that I “swore to God” the information contained therein was true). Knowing that requiring such a pledge in a government document is unconstitutional, I wrote to the governor’s office asking to be provided with an alternate form, without any theistic language. 

I was heartened to know that, if I had to fight for this, FFRF would have my back. Fortunately, though, the governor did the right thing and promptly sent me an alternately worded (nontheistic) affidavit to use.

While I was grateful for this outcome, the effort it took should not have had to be made. Unless and until all government documents are, by default, nontheistic, we who understand the constitutional separation of church and state have a lot of work to do.

­— Respectfully, David Chandler, temporary guest of the state of Oregon.