Freedom From Religion Foundation
|Freedom From Religion Foundation|
|Legal status||501(c)3 Educational Organization|
|Purpose/focus||State/Church separation, nontheism, atheist|
|Region served||United States|
|Key people||Dan Barker, Annie Laurie Gaylor, Anne Nicol Gaylor|
|Part of a series on|
The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) is an American, non-profit organization based in Madison, Wisconsin, with members from all 50 states. The largest national organization advocating for non-theists, FFRF promotes the separation of church and state and educates the public on matters relating to atheism, agnosticism and nontheism. The FFRF publishes a newspaper, Freethought Today. The organization aggressively pursues public-interest lawsuits and engages in public debates to further its goal of removing religious observance and influence from all aspects of society. Since 2006, the Foundation has produced the Freethought Radio show.
The FFRF was co-founded by Anne Nicol Gaylor and her daughter, Annie Laurie Gaylor, in 1976 and was incorporated nationally in 1978. The organization is supported by over 19,000 members and operates from an 1855-era building in Madison, Wisconsin that once served as a church rectory. According to the 2011 IRS tax Form-990, FFRF spent just over $200,000 on legal fees and services and just under $1 million on education, outreach, publishing, broadcasting, and events. The allotment for legal fees is primarily used in cases supporting the separation of church and state that involve governmental entities. FFRF also has a paid staff of thirteen, including four full-time staff attorneys.
Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom from Religion Foundation, is the author of Women Without Superstition: No Gods - No Masters and a nonfiction book on clergy pedophilia scandals Betrayal of Trust: Clergy Abuse of Children (out of print), and editor of the anthology Woe to the Women. She edited the FFRF newspaper Freethought Today until July, 2008. Her husband, Dan Barker, author of Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist, Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America’s Leading Atheists, The Good Atheist: Living a Purpose-Filled Life Without God and Just Pretend: A Freethought Book for Children, is a musician and songwriter, a former Pentecostal Christian minister, and co-president of the FFRF.
- FFRF v. Thompson - In February 1996, a federal district court ruled that Wisconsin's Good Friday holiday was a First Amendment violation because its sole purpose "was the promotion of religion."
- FFRF v. Faith Works – In January 2002, a federal district court decided that Faith Works, a faith-based addiction treatment program, was receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in public money in violation of the Establishment Clause. The judge wrote, “Because I find that the Department of Workforce Development's grant to Faith Works constitutes unrestricted, direct funding of an organization that engages in religious indoctrination, I conclude that this funding stream violates the establishment clause. The Seventh Circuit later ruled against FFRF on the narrower of whether or not prisoners joining specific faith based programs on their own free will or are coerced by the government endorsement of religion.
- FFRF v. Montana Faith-Health Cooperative - In October 2004, the Federal District Court for the District of Montana held that the state's "direct and preferential funding of inherently and pervasively religious parish nursing programs was undertaken for the impermissible purpose, and has the impermissible effect, of favoring and advancing the integration of religion into the provision of secular health care services." According to the court, the state funding of faith-based healthcare violated the First Amendment.
- FFRF v. HHS - In lawsuit ending in January 2005, a court vacated HHS's funding of a Christian organization, MentorKids, because the "federal funds have been used by the MentorKids program to advance religion in violation of the Establishment Clause."
- FFRF v. U.S. Department of Education - In April 2005, FFRF and the USDOE settled a lawsuit, with the USDOE agreeing not to distribute $435,000 of federal funds to the Alaska Christian College, a Bible college run by the Evangelical Covenant Church of Alaska.
- FFRF v. Rhea County Schools ("Scopes II") - This litigation occurred in the same place as the famous Scopes Trial, hence the nickname Scopes II. In June 2005, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a district judgment holding that it was unconstitutional for the school district to "teach the Bible as literal truth" to students, including first graders.
- FFRF v. Univ. of Minnesota - In September 2005, the University of Minnesota agreed to cease its partnership with the "Minnesota Faith Health Consortium, a partnership with Luther Seminary, which is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, and Fairview Health Services," and to cease teaching "courses on the intersection of faith and health" and FFRF agreed to drop its lawsuit on those same issues.
- FFRF v. Gonzales - The May 2006, challenge to faith-based prison programs forced the Federal Bureau of Prisons to "cancel" "at least five single faith" programs. The suit continued against other violations but the parties later stipulated a dismissal of the case.
- FFRF v. Indiana Family & Social Services - May 2, 2007 challenge of the creation of a chaplaincy for the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA). The FSSA hired Pastor Michael L. Latham, a Baptist minister, in 2006, at a salary of $60,000 a year. In September 2007, in response to FFRF's suit, Indiana ended the program.
- FFRF v. City of Green Bay - In December 2007, FFRF challenged a nativity scene at Green Bay's city hall. The judge dismissed the suit because "the plaintiffs have already won. . . the Plaintiffs have won a concrete victory that changes the circumstances on the ground."
- Federal judge Barbara Brandriff Crabb ruled that the statute establishing the National Day of Prayer was unconstitutional, as it is "an inherently religious exercise that serves no secular function," although this ruling was later dismissed.
- Doe v. School Board of Giles County, VA - In September 2011, FFRF and the ACLU brought suit on behalf of anonymous plaintiffs against Giles County challenging a Ten Commandments display at Narrows High School. The case was settled in July 2012; the school board agreed to pay attorneys fees and not to display the Ten Commandments in public schools.
- FFRF v. Town of Whiteville, TN - In August 2012, FFRF and the town settled the FFRF lawsuit challenging a Latin cross displayed on top of the town's water tower. After FFRF wrote three initial letters, but before the lawsuit was filed, the town removed one arm of the cross. The removal cost the town $4,000 and as part of the settlement the town paid $20,000 in FFRF's attorneys fees. The town also agreed never to replace the missing arm and not to place other crosses on public property.
- Hein v. Freedom From Religion Foundation - A case before the Supreme Court challenging the White House Office of Faith-Based Initiative programs. The Court ruled 5-4 that taxpayers do not have the right to challenge the constitutionality of expenditures in made by the executive branch.
- FFRF v. Department of Veterans Affairs - April 19, 2006 challenge of the pervasive integration of "spirituality" into health care by the Department of Veteran Affairs was stayed while the Supreme Court considered the Hein case and dismissed after Hein was decided for lack of standing. The Seventh Circuit did not decide on the merits, only on standing (a jurisdictional issue).
- In April 2011, the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed FFRF's challenge to the National Day of Prayer holding that FFRF did not have standing to challenge the NDoP statute or proclamations and that only the President was injured enough to challenge the NDoP statute.
- In June 2012, FFRF appealed a lower court's decision in a challenge to remove a Nativity Scene in Michigan. The case is ongoing.
- Prudhommes Restaurant, Columbia, PA - July 18, 2012 - FFRF wrote several letters to Prudhommes explaining that offering a 10% discount to Sunday patrons who present a church bulletin is a violation of state and federal law, specifically the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The individual who brought the matter to FFRF's attention has filed a discrimination complaint with the Pennsylvania Human Relations and FFRF is only involved in an advisory capacity.
- On July 24, 2012, after receiving a letter from FFRF, the Steubenville, Ohio city council decided to remove the image of the Christ the King Chapel at the Franciscan University of Steubenville from its town logo.
- FFRF has asked the city of Woonsocket, Rhode Island to remove a the Latin cross from a World War 1 and 2 memorial on public land.
- FFRF asked the city counsel of Rapid City, South Dakota to eliminate its practice of beginning each city council meeting with a Christian prayer.
State Capitol signs 
Wisconsin State Capitol 
|“||At this season of the Winter Solstice may reason prevail.
There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell.
There is only our natural world.
Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.
Washington State Capitol 
A plaque with the same text as the Wisconsin State Capitol sign was displayed for the 2008 Christmas season at the state capitol in Olympia, Washington, next to a nativity scene. The sign was stolen and then later found and returned to the state capitol. The addition of the sign incited a large number of individuals and groups to request other additions, such as a Festivus pole, a request by the Westboro Baptist Church for a sign stating "Santa Claus will take you to hell" (among other things), a sign paying homage to the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and many others.
Illinois State Capitol 
On December 23, 2009, William J. Kelly, conservative activist and candidate for Illinois Comptroller, attempted to remove a FFRF sign at a holiday display.
Athens, Texas 
In 2011, the FRFF sent a letter to Henderson County requesting the removal of a nativity scene on the courthouse lawn in Athens, Texas. The group stated that it received a complaint from a Henderson County citizen regarding the nativity scene and petitioned the local government to remove it. After the government decided the nativity scene would remain, FFRF petitioned to have a banner placed on the square near the nativity scene, but a decision to consider the request was not heard before Christmas. As a result of the letter from FFRF, a rally was held at the Henderson County Courthouse where an estimated 5,000 people attended. FFRF put up their own banner by the nativity scene, but it was removed by Henderson County deputies because there was no approved permit for the banner to be displayed on county property.
The nativity scene, as well as all Christmas decorations displayed on and around the square on public property, is maintained by Keep Athens Beautiful, a non-profit organization.
Freethought Radio 
Called the "only weekly Freethought radio broadcast anywhere", Freethought Radio on The Mic 92.1 FM is live every Saturday from 11 a.m. - 12 p.m. CDT in Madison, Wisconsin. It also appeared on Air America (Air America Radio ceased operation in March, 2010). It is hosted by the co-presidents of FFRF, Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor. A podcast archive is also available at the FFRF website. Regular features include "Theocracy Alert" and "Freethinkers Almanac". The latter highlights historic freethinkers, many of whom are also songwriters. The show's intro and outro make use of John Lennon's "Imagine", which is notable for its antireligious theme.
FFRF has held conventions since 1977, one year after the group formed and one year prior to their official incorporation. The 2012 convention will be the 35th annual convention. The conventions typically include speakers, awards, “NonPrayer Breakfasts" with "moments of bedlam," and piano music by FFRF Co-President Dan Barker. The Foundation gives out several awards at its conventions:
Emperor Has No Clothes Award 
FFRF bestows at least one Emperor Has No Clothes Award at its conventions. The award's name is derived from the Hans Christian Andersen short story "The Emperor's New Clothes", which centers on two weavers who promise an Emperor a new suit of clothes that is invisible to those who are "hopelessly stupid, or unfit or incompetent to hold their position. The Emperor parades around naked because he is afraid to admit he is unfit for his office; his counselors and subjects have the same fear. A child, not understanding the charade, cries out that the Emperor is wearing no clothes—a cry taken up by the crowd. The award goes to "public figures who take on the fabled role of the little child in the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale and 'tell it like it is'—about religion."
The Emperor statuette is made by the same company that makes the Oscars. The first award was given in 1998 but six awards were given in 2001 to Jesse Ventura, Ted Turner, Andy Rooney, Janeane Garafalo, George Carlin, Richard Dawkins, and Katha Pollitt. Other awardees include Steven Weinberg (2001), Penn & Teller (2003), Alan Dershowitz (2003), Ron Reagan (2004), Peter Singer (2004), Christopher Hitchens (2007), Daniel Dennett (2008), Ayaan Hirsi Ali (2010), and Richard Dawkins (2001, 2012).
Freethinker of the Year Award 
FFRF gives this award to "litigants who have brought and won lawsuits upholding the separation of church and state." In 1985, FFRF gave the first award to Ishmael Jaffree plaintiff in the Supreme Court case Wallace v. Jaffree, 472 U.S. 38 (1985).
Atheist in Foxhole Award 
This award is given to show that the old saying about no atheists in foxholes is inaccurate and "to recognize activism to defend the constitutional principle of separation between state and church which every soldier takes an oath to uphold."
Conventions and awards 
|November 22–24, 2002||San Diego, California||Michael Newdow - Freethinker of the Year
Robert Sapolsky – Emperor Has No Clothes Award
Taslima Nasrin - Freethought Heroine Award
Blake Trettien - Student Activist Award
Steve Benson – Emperor Has No Clothes Award
|Julia Sweeney, Philip Appleman and Marjorie Appleman, Dan Barker|
|October 10–12, 2003||Washington, D.C.||Helen Thomas, Alan Dershowitz, Natalie Angier, Alton Lemon, Michael Newdow, Betty Rollin, Sacha Pfeiffer, Steve Benson, Dan Barker|
|October 29–31, 2004||Madison, Wisconsin||Michael Newdow - Freethought Hero Award
Rachel Morris - Ruth (Dixie) Jokinen Student Activist Award
Steven Pinker - Emperor Has No Clothes Award
Peter Singer - Emperor Has No Clothes Award
Robyn Blumner - Emperor Has No Clothes Award
|Susan Jacoby, Matthew Rothschild, Dan Barker, Steve Benson, Anne Gaylor, Alvin Harris|
|November 11–13, 2005||Orlando, Florida||Oliver Sacks – Emperor Has No Clothes Award
Robin Morgan - Freethought Heroine Award
David Habecker - Freethough Hero Award
Don Addis - Freethought in the Media 'Tell It Like It Is' Award
Ernie Chambers - Hero of the First Amendment
Jennifer Musgrove - Ruth (Dixie) Jokinen Student Activist Award
Dianna Narciso - Friend of the First Amendment Award
|David Corn, Dan Barker|
|October 6–8, 2006||San Francisco, California||Mikey Weinstein - Champion of the First Amendment
Wafa Sultan - Freethought Heroine Award
Julia Sweeney – Emperor Has No Clothes Award
Philip Paulson - Atheist in Foxhole Award
|Sam Harris, Michelle Goldberg, Richard Sloan, Dan Barker|
|October 12–14, 2007||Madison, Wisconsin||Christopher Hitchens – Emperor Has No Clothes Award
Matt LaClair – Thomas Jefferson Student Activist Award
Ellery Schempp - Champion of the First Amendment Award
Stephanie Salter – Friend of the First Amendment Award
|Katha Pollitt, Julia Sweeney|
|October 10–12, 2008||Chicago, Illinois||Daniel C. Dennett - Emperor Has No Clothes Award
Kay Staley – Freethinker of the Year Award,
Jim McCollum – Champion of the First Amendment Award
Jeremy Hall – Atheist in a Foxhole Award
|Jeff Sharlet, Eleanor Clift, Scott Dikkers, Dan Barker|
|November 6–8, 2009||Seattle, Washington||Ron Reagan - Emperor Has No Clothes Award
William Lobdell - Emperor Has No Clothes Award
Ursula K. Le Guin - Emperor Has No Clothes Award
Jennifer Michael Hecht – Freethought Heroine Award
|Phil Zuckerman, Barry Kosmin, Daniel Everett|
|October 29–31, 2010||Madison, Wisconsin||Rep. Pete Stark (Calif.) - Emperor Has No Clothes Award
Ayaan Hirsi Ali - Emperor Has No Clothes Award
Cenk Uygur - Emperor Has No Clothes Award
Eric Workman – Thomas Jefferson Student Activist Award
|Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton (via video), Linda Greenhouse, Mike Konopacki, Prof. James F. Crow, Julia Sweeney, Steve Benson, Dan Barker, Annie Laurie Gaylor|
|October 7–9, 2011||Hartford, Connecticut||Steven Pinker - Emperor Has No Clothes Award
Jerry Coyne - Emperor Has No Clothes Award
Dylan Galos – Student Activist Award
Steve Trunk - Atheist in a Foxhole Award
Mitch Kahle – Freethinker of the Year
Jessica Ahlquist – Thomas Jefferson Student Activist Award
Harrison Hopkins – Catherine Fahringer Youth Activist Award
|Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, Charles Strouse, Joey Taylor, Dan Barker, Annie Laurie Gaylor|
|October 12–13, 2012||Portland, Oregon||Richard Dawkins - Emperor Has No Clothes Award
Sara Paretsky - Freethought Heroine Award
Jessica Ahlquist – Freethinker of the Year
Max Nielson – Student Activist Award
|Julia Sweeney, Katherine Stewart, Teresa Macbain, Jerry Dewitt, Annalise Fonza, Dan Barker, Annie Laurie Gaylor, Rebecca Markert, Andrew Seidel|
See also 
- American Atheists
- Ceremonial deism
- Criticism of religion
- Freedom of thought
- Freethought Association of Canada
- Separation of church and state in the United States
- Irreligion in the United States
- "Madison group ramps up national fight against religion in government". The Cap Times. Retrieved 2012-06-14.
- Aubele, Michael. "Those who don't believe just as adamant as religious folk". TribLive News. Retrieved 2012-08-14.
- "The Atheists' Calling". Wisconsin State Journal. 2007-02-25. Retrieved 2007-09-27.
- Freeedom From Religion Foundation. "2011 Form 990". Retrieved 2012-08-14.
- "Getting Acquainted with FFRF". FFRF. Retrieved 2013-02-22.
- Jerry DeWitt receives Freedom from Religion Foundation, Clergy Project Hardship Grant ClergyProject.org October 31, 2012
- "Court Decision 920 F.Supp. 969".
- Court Decision. "FFRF v. Faith Works, January 2002 order". Retrieved 15 August 2012.
- Court Decision. "FFRF v. Faith Works, Seventh Circuit Decision 2003". Retrieved 15 August 2012.
- "Montana Court decision". Retrieved 15 August 2012.
- Court Decision. "FFRF v. HHS".
- Lederrman, Doug. "Education Dept. Suspends Grant to Christian College". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved 15 August 2012.
- FFRF v., Rhea County. "Court Opinion". Retrieved 14 August 2012.
- Lederman, Doug. "Faith and Health Part II". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved 15 August 2012.
- Malladi, Sundeep. "Madison-based group sues University of Minnesota". The Badger Herald.
- Freethought Today. "FFRF Lawsuit Halts Federal Faith Prison Program".
- "FFRF v. Alberto Gonzales Civil Docket". Retrieved 14 August 2012.
- Banerjee, Neela (2007-09-28). "Indiana, Faced With Suit, Takes Chaplain Off Payroll". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-02.
- Griesbach, Judge William. "Decision and Order at page 23". Retrieved 14 August 2012.
- Gilgoff, Dan (16 April 2010). "Federal judge strikes down National Day of Prayer statute". CNN. Retrieved 16 April 2010.
- Richmond, Todd (15 April 2010). "Federal judge rules Day of Prayer unconstitutional". Associated Press. Retrieved 16 April 2010.
- "Doe v. School Board of Giles County Complaint". Retrieved 14 August 2012.
- Salinas, Orlando. "Settlement reached in Giles Co. Ten Commandments battle". Retrieved 14 August 2012.
- Associated Press. "Whiteville Settles Lawsuit over cross atop tower". Retrieved 15 August 2012.
- "Whiteville Settles Cross Lawsuit". Retrieved 15 August 2012.
- Friedman, Howard. "US Supreme Court hold taxpayers lack standing to challenge White House faith based initiative expenditures". Religion Clause Blog. Retrieved 14 August 2012.
- Decision, Seventh Circuit. "FFRF v. Veterans Affairs decision". Retrieved 15 August 2012.
- Friedman, Howard. [religionclause.blogspot.com/2011/04/7th-circuit-no-standing-to-challenge.html "7th Circuit: No Standing to Challenge National Day of Prayer"] Check
|url=scheme (help). Religion Clause Blog. Retrieved 14 August 2012.
- Banks, Adelle M. (2011-04-14). "Court Dismisses Challenge to National Day of Prayer". USA Today. Retrieved 2011-12-29.
- "The FFRF Loses Challenge To Remove Nativity Scene in Michigan". uclj.
- "Prudhomme's cites surge of support, patrons after complaint by atheist". Lancaster Online. 2012-07-18.
- Burke, Patrick. "Ohio City Council Removes Image of Catholic College From Town Logo". CNS News. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
- "Hundreds gather to defend Woonsocket memorial". The Boston Globe. 2012-05-02.
- "Anti-prayer group fires second salvo". Rapid City Journal. 2013-02-17.
- "Wisconsin State Capital Sign". Retrieved 6 September 2012.
- Woodward, Curt (2008-12-01). "Atheist sign joins nativity scene, tree at Capitol". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 2008-12-03.
- Tu, Janet (2008-12-02). "Nonbelievers' sign at Capitol counters Nativity". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 2008-12-03.
- "Missing Atheist Sign Found in Washington State". CNN. 2008-12-05. Retrieved 2008-12-12.
- "Coming to Capitol: 'Festivus' display". Komo News. 2008-12-01. Retrieved 2008-12-12.
- "Controversial Kansas group wants Olympia display". Spokesman Review. 2008-12-11. Retrieved 2008-12-12.
- Harrington, Adam (2009-12-23). "Furor Erupts Over Atheist Display At State Capitol". Cbs2chicago.com. Retrieved 2011-12-29.
- "Texas Town Braces For Battle With Atheists Over Nativity Scene". Fox News. 2010-04-07. Retrieved 2011-12-29.
- "Nativity Rally for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ". Canadafreepress.com. Retrieved 2011-12-29.
- ""Vote for Jesus": Thousands Protest Removal of Nativity Display in Athens, Texas". Fox News Insider. 2011-12-19. Retrieved 2011-12-29.
- "Banner Removed From Nativity Scene | Video - ABC News". Abcnews.go.com. 2011-12-15. Retrieved 2011-12-29.
- "Past Conventions". Retrieved 6 September 2012.
- "Emperor Has No Clothes Award".
- "Freethinker of the Year Award".
- "Atheist in Foxhole Award".
- "FFRF 2002 Convention".
- "FFRF 2003 Convention".
- "FFRF 2004 Convention".
- "FFRF 2005 Convention".
- "FFRF 2006 Convention".
- "FFRF 2007 Convention".
- "FFRF 2008 Convention".
- "FFRF 2009 Convention".
- "FFRF 2010 Convention".
- "FFRF 2011 Convention".
- "FFRF 2012 Convention Schdeule".
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Freedom From Religion Foundation|
- Freedom From Religion Foundation
- Freethought Radio Archives
- Dan Barker FFRF Interview from the Freethought Association