Category Archives: Separation of Church & State

Roy Moore Sexual Abuse

Roy Moore Sexual Abuse & Misconduct with Minors

Roy Moore Sexual Abuse

Roy Moore Sexual Abuse — another inveterate enemy of state-church separation has been accused of sexual abuse.

In an explosive article, the Washington Post details the story of four women who accuse Roy Moore of having inappropriate sexual conduct with them while they were in their teens and he was in his 30s. Moore is currently a candidate for the U.S. Senate seat from Alabama that Jeff Sessions vacated to be attorney general.

Roy Moore Sexual Abuse – a disgraced former judge who was dismissed!

Moore is the disgraced former judge who was dismissed from his position on the Alabama Supreme Court for refusing to comply with and uphold the Constitution — twice. FFRF has long fought with Moore, even before he placed, and refused to remove, a two-ton granite Ten Commandments in the Alabama Supreme Court building. FFRF’s Alabama chapter, the Alabama Freethought Association, sued Moore in 1995. Moore was a county judge in Gadsden, and he forced jurors to pray and displayed his handcrafted wooden Ten Commandments plaque above his bench.

The Post article details sexual misconduct that took place from 1979 through 1981. The stories of the four women share some similarities: an older man plying teenagers with alcohol, taking the girls on “dates,” and even using the prestige of his office to cultivate the relationships.

Moore’s infamy is tied to his willingness to abuse his public office to promote his personal religion. His primary loyalty as a judge was not to the law and the Constitution, but to his bible. The women’s stories reiterate Moore’s shocking disregard for public service and public office. He used his position as a district attorney to gain the trust of Nancy Wells, mother to then 14-year-old Leigh Corfman. Waiting outside a courtroom on a wooden bench, Moore approached the mother and daughter according to their retelling. Moore, whose office was down the hall, explained to the mother that she didn’t want her daughter to go into a child custody hearing, and that he, a district attorney, would watch the child. Then:

Alone with Corfman, Moore chatted with her and asked for her phone number, she says. Days later, she says, he picked her up around the corner from her house in Gadsden, drove her about 30 minutes to his home in the woods, told her how pretty she was and kissed her. On a second visit, she says, he took off her shirt and pants and removed his clothes. He touched her over her bra and underpants, she says, and guided her hand to touch him over his underwear. 

Moore also used his office to get near and select another victim, Debbie Wesson Gibson, who was 17 when Moore spoke to her high school civics class.

Moore has denied the allegations the four women are making independently of one another.

Moore’s public displays of piety will no doubt be called hypocritical, but while he is certainly a monster in many respects, Moore’s alleged sexual assaults didn’t violate any of his cherished commandments. There is no prohibition of rape or child molestation in the Ten Commandments. Neither even rates mention in the supposedly highest moral law Judeo-Christianity has to offer. There is no consent requirement for sex. Even in the rest of the bible, rape is not treated as a crime against a woman, but as a crime against the man who owns the woman.

As sex scandals continue to rock churches, Hollywood, and politics, it seems that the old rule of thumb holds true: The more publicly pious an individual is, the more likely they are to be involved in a sex scandal. Ted Haggard, Dennis Hastert, Josh Duggar, Larry Craig, and the Catholic Church are but a few examples. Roy Moore is the newest addition to this list.

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Women’s Rights

FFRF Condemns assault on Women’s Rights in tax Bill

The Religious Right is stealthily attacking Women’s Rights pertaining to abortion in Congress under the cover of the proposed tax bill.women's rights

“Among the biggest wins for social conservatives is the inclusion of the words ‘unborn child’ in the legislation, “reports The New York Times“. The language is contained in an innocuous provision related to education savings vehicles — so-called 529 plans, which are state-sponsored, tax-free investment funds that allow families to put aside money for a child’s college education. The provision explicitly allows expectant parents to designate a ‘child in utero’ as a beneficiary of a 529 plan.”

On some level, the proposed proviso is meaningless, since parents already can set up such accounts for children they don’t yet have and later on transfer the funds to the child’s name. But on another, it is deeply significant. By explicitly recognizing the “unborn” in federal law, the GOP leadership is fulfilling the desire of the evangelical crowd to create a legal precedent based on the religious definition of life.

Women’s Rights — Anti-abortion forces are predictably gloating!

“It is fantastic because the unborn child is appropriately represented in the tax code,” Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of the fervently anti-choice Susan B. Anthony List, crowed to the Times. “All of these things represent a serious commitment to treating the unborn child, as she or he should be, equal and protected in the eyes of the law.”

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is alarmed at this underhanded tactic.

The primary organized opposition to reproductive rights in this country always has been religion, as FFRF co-founder Annie Laurie Gaylor has repeatedly emphasized. Virtually every vocal opponent of contraception and abortion argues against these rights on the basis of God and the bible. In fact, the Freedom From Religion Foundation came into existence in good part because of the organized religious opposition to abortion rights. It is what opened the eyes of FFRF principal founder Anne Nicol Gaylor to the dangers of dogma being enshrined in our laws.

Ever since Inauguration Day, President Trump has promised the world to the Religious Right in response to its steadfast support for his presidential campaign. And he has kept that promise multiple times — from his stringent “global gag rule” to the proposed repeal on church electioneering (the Johnson Amendment) in the same tax bill, read more about that threat. The “unborn” language is yet another sop that the Republican Party is throwing to its base.

“This new move may seem innocuous, but it’s actually quite pernicious,” says Gaylor. “All secular forces will be battling this sneaky attempt to undermine Roe v. Wade.”

The Trump administration invites constant vigilance on the part of freethinkers — and the freethought movement willingly accepts the invitation.

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Johnson Amendment

Support protection of Johnson Amendment

The Johnson Amendment is under fire by a very few!  Please show your support for an amendment to the House’s tax reform bill that will keep dark religious dollars out of politics.

Among the promises made by Donald Trump during the campaign was repeal of the “Johnson Amendment,” the tax law provision that prohibits 501(c)(3) charities — Johnson Amendmentincluding churches — from supporting or opposing candidates for office. The congressional tax bill is delivering that promise by weakening the amendment and opening church doors to partisan shenanigans.

Georgia Rep. John Lewis is proposing an amendment to the House bill, scratching the provision that would eviscerate the Johnson Amendment. Please contact the House Ways and Means Committee and urge it to support this amendment.

Contact

Let our simple automated system call the committee for you with a built-in script. We encourage you to add your own thoughts to personalize the message. If you have a representative on the committee, his or her name will appear on the call list as well. As a constituent of a representative on the committee, your voice is extra-important so please make that call to him or her.

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(Keep reading for more information about the Johnson Amendment and the effort to repeal it.)

Background

Johnson Amendment

As part of their public trust, 501(c)(3)s file financial information with the IRS and every penny donated and spent is tracked by the government. But churches file nothing, and without the Johnson Amendment, any mega-donor could write a check to the nearest church for any amount, earmark the donation for a political campaign and take the tax write-off. Meanwhile, the church can then spend the donation on anything, including politicking. Essentially, churches would become unregulated, unaccountable super-PACs. We might even see PACs reorganizing as churches to compete for donors who would now give their donation, now tax-deductible, to churches.

During his proposal to save the Johnson Amendment, Rep. Lewis described his reaction to the effort to destroy the amendment:

“It never crossed my mind that with our notice of warning, this committee would actually consider a bill to repeal the Johnson Amendment,” he said. “It was too crazy, too unbelievable of an idea to be even possible. When I reached the end of the bill, I was shocked and appalled.”

Analysts have noted that permitting a large group of previously nonpartisan organizations to become partisan will bring much more dark money into our elections – and that money will be tax deductible.

There is massive opposition to changing this law.

Since this law came under attack, thousands have spoken out saying how important it was to them. Over 100 spiritual organizations, more than 4,200 individual religious leaders, 5,500 nonprofits (including law-enforcement groups), and nearly 100 members of Congress have signed letters detailing the damaging effects alteration of the law would have on their communities.

Recent polls show strong support for the law. Only a few individuals seeking power are behind challenges to the law, as no denomination supports changes.

These changes to the Johnson Amendment are unacceptable, and must be opposed at every level. Please support Rep. Lewis’ amendment stripping this harmful provision.

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Texas Governor Abbott Loses Censorship Suit!

BREAKING NEWS!
FFRF WINS, TEXAS GOV. ABBOTT LOSES IN SOLSTICE CENSORSHIP SUIT

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has prevailed in federal court against Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who ordered the removal of FFRF’s winter solstice Bill of Rights Nativity from the Texas Capitol in 2015.

FFRF can Sue Governor Greg Abbott in his Personal Capacity!

In his decision, handed down late on Friday, Oct. 13, U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks for the governor greg abbottWestern District of Texas – Austin Division,  ruled that Abbott violated FFRF’s free speech rights.

FFRF had placed a duly permitted display celebrating the Winter Solstice and Bill of Rights Day, in response to a Christian nativity at the Texas Capitol. The display, depicting founding fathers and the Statue of Liberty celebrating the birth of the Bill of Rights (adopted Dec. 15, 1791), had the requisite sponsorship from a Texas legislator.

Abbott, as chair of the Texas State Preservation Board, ordered FFRF’s display taken down only three days after it was erected, lambasting it as indecent, mocking and contributing to public immorality.

“Defendants have justified removal of FFRF’s exhibit by arguing the exhibit’s satirical tone rendered it offensive to some portion of the population. That is viewpoint discrimination,” writes Sparks in a 24-page ruling. The court also held that a reasonable official in Governor Abbott’s position would have known that removing FFRF’s display based on its viewpoint would violate FFRF’s First Amendment rights, thus FFRF can sue Governor Abbott in his personal capacity.

“It is ‘beyond debate’ the law prohibits viewpoint discrimination in a limited public forum,” Sparks ruled.

Judge Ruled in Favor of FFRF Deposing Governor Greg Abbott!

Sparks did not find that Abbott’s actions violated the Establishment Clause.  He also ruled in FFRF’s favor that FFRF has the right to depose the governor for one hour. Abbott had fought the request for a deposition.

FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor praised the ruling as a very strong decision for FFRF, for free speech and for the rights of nonbelieving citizens. “We’d rather keep divisive religious — and irreligious — views out of state capitols. But if the government creates public forums, and permits Christian  nativities in them, there must be room at the inn for the rest of us.”

FFRF is a national state/church watchdog with more than 29,000 nonreligious members. It requested the right to put up a December display at the request of some of its more than 1,200 Texas members.

The case is Freedom From Religion Foundation v. Governor Greg Abbott, Cause No. A-16-CA-00233-SS. FFRF was represented by Attorney Richard L. Bolton with FFRF Attorney Sam Grover as co-counsel. More history about the case may be found here.

FFRF is a National watchdog for violations of our 1st Amendment, specifically involving the Separation of Church and State. If you see an violations and need help or support you can Contact FFRF National. There are also dozens of local chapters, see Local Chapters.

Freedom from Religion Metro Denver Chapter is one such very strong local chapter. FFRF Metro Denver, as well as National and most local chapters, is a non-profit 501(c)3.  The Metro Denver chapter’s mission is to participate on the local level to safeguard the constitutional provision of church/state separation, with a primary focus of educating others in the community on this critically important issue.

For tax-deductible donations see FFRF Metro Denver Chapter.  To join the Denver Chapter visit FFRF Metro Denver Membership.

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Delta high school student sues Delta County Joint School District

By  | The Denver Post 

A former Delta high school student sued the Delta County Joint School District No. 50 claiming teachers gave the A-student a failing grade and sabotaged her college applications because of her atheistic views and opposition to religious proselytizing and instruction in the public school.

Denver attorneys Jeffrey Springer and Andrew Reid filed a civil lawsuit Monday on Cidney Fisk’s behalf in U.S. District Court in Denver against the district and school officials.

Fisk is seeking compensatory and punitive damages for economic losses, emotional distress and humiliation.

District Superintendent Caryn Gibson, who was named as a defendant in the case, declined to comment about the lawsuit because the district has not been served and does not know Fisk’s allegations.

During her senior year in 2015-16, Fisk had a 4.1 grade point average, was captain of the school’s speech and debate team, student body treasurer and a reporter on the student magazine, the Delta Paw Print.

But her opposition to teachers, school board members and administrators, who she claims espoused religious views in school settings and meetings put her at odds with them, the lawsuit says. For example, school board member Kathy Svenson, a Bible camp teacher, once stated her “Christian” belief at a school board meeting that “transgender students should be castrated,” it says.

When Fisk and other students wore costumes in 2014 in opposition to state Amendment 67, which sought “personhood” status for fetuses, a teacher told her to take the costume off because “God gave babies life and abortion is murder,” the lawsuit says.

The following year, in 2015, the same teacher, called Fiske into a meeting and criticized her “attitude” for posting pictures on her private Instagram account of her wearing a school T-shirt at a school football game with hashtags including #notactuallyafan. She was told her attitude was “not suitable as a student leader.”

At the meeting, a counselor warned her that she could be removed from her student government position and lose college scholarship opportunities, the lawsuit says.

When Fisk questioned the principal and other school administrators about the legality of having a faith-based instructor speak about sex education at a mandated school assembly, she was told the religious tones would not hurt anybody, the lawsuit says.

For a decade, the school has paid Shelly Donahue, who teaches abstinence as the only way to prevent pregnancy, the lawsuit says. Her website says she is “passionately committed to Jesus Christ as the ultimate answer to the teen sexual activity problem in America.”

Fisk and friends wore T-shirts before the presentation that said “I prefer science,” and “I abstain from ideology.”

“Ms. Donahue’s presentation at the school was expressly and overtly faith-based, religious in content and tone,”  and lacked medically accurate information about contraceptives and sexually transmitted diseases including AIDS, the lawsuit says. She told students that sex before marriage “puts you further from God” and compared girls who have premarital sex to dirty diapers, the lawsuit says.

Fisk wrote an article for The Paw Print that was critical of the presentation.

When John Miller, her government teacher, invited a Navy Seal to speak about drug abuse and his book, “Seal of God,” which mentioned his religious conversion, Fisk asked him “pointed questions about his qualifications.” Miller later reprimanded her and changed her grade from a 98 to a 70, the lawsuit says.

Fisk received death threats before and after she was quoted in an April 1, 2016, Daily Sentinel article about her opposition to a middle school program called “Donuts with Dan,” in which a teacher gave students doughnuts and Gideon Bibles. When Fisk reported the threats to the principal, nothing happened, the lawsuit says.

After the article was published, Miller dropped Fisk’s grade in his class to an F. She then spoke with Miller and the principal. Both told her repeatedly that her grade was a consequence of her comments in the newspaper. They told her if she wanted her grades to rise, she should “shut up.”

The principal barred Fisk from giving a graduation speech even though it was a school tradition that student council officers give speeches, the lawsuit says. Although her GPA qualified her for the National Honor Society program school, officials denied her that opportunity. Bad reviews by school officials also hurt her chances for scholarships and acceptance at two colleges, she claimed.

Fisk was hospitalized and suffered two anxiety attacks as a result of her experiences at school, the lawsuit says.

“Defendants retaliated upon plaintiff Fisk, threatened, punished and censored her, for expressing her opinions on religion, abortion, sex education, and drug education in an attempt to chill, deter and restrict (her) from freely expressing her opinions,” the lawsuit says.

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