Thursday, February 22, 2007

"The nation's largest group of atheists and agnostics"

A case known as Hein v. Freedom from Religion Foundation is about to be argued before the Supreme Court. This has a certain particular relevance for Seventh Day Baptists because the Baptist Joint Committee seems to agree with the Freedom from Religion group's position. The Foundation is located in Madison, Wisconsin, and one of our local papers, The Capitol Times, reported on them today:
Annie Laurie Gaylor speaks with a soft voice, but her message catches attention: Keep God out of government.

Gaylor has helped transform the Freedom From Religion Foundation from obscurity into the nation's largest group of atheists and agnostics, with a fast-rising membership and increasing legal clout.

Next week, the group started by Gaylor and her mother in the 1970s to take on the religious right will fight its most high-profile battle when the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments on its lawsuit against President Bush's faith-based initiative.

The court will decide whether taxpayers can sue over federal funding that the foundation believes promotes religion. It could be a major ruling for groups that fight to keep church and state separate.

... Critics say the group imposes such an extreme view of the First Amendment that religious groups can't receive tax dollars for even laudable purposes.

"They are successful in the sense that they have disrupted government funding for faith-based initiatives," said Jordan Lorence of the Alliance Defense Fund, which defends religion in the public arena. "But real people with real problems are no longer getting help because of some of their lawsuits."

The group has grown as its legal challenges mount. It claims 8,500 members in 50 states, with the most coming from California, after adding a record 400 in December.

Members consider themselves freethinkers who form opinions based on reason, not faith. [More]

Source: The Capital Times - Freedom from Religion Foundation Gains Clout

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