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Freedom From Religion Foundation


Freedom From Religion Foundation

Freedom From Religion Foundation
Abbreviation FFRF
Formation 1978
Type Non-profit
Legal status 501(c)3 Educational Organization
Purpose Separation of church and state, nontheism, atheism, secularism
Headquarters Madison, Wisconsin
Region served United States
Membership 20,000 members
Key people Dan Barker, Annie Laurie Gaylor, Anne Nicol Gaylor

The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) is an American non-profit organization based in separation of church and state and educates the public on matters relating to atheism, agnosticism, and nontheism. The FFRF publishes a newspaper, Freethought Today. Since 2006, the Foundation has produced the Freethought Radio show.


  • History 1
  • Litigation 2
    • Social programs 2.1
      • Social services 2.1.1
      • Health care 2.1.2
      • Education 2.1.3
      • Criminal justice programs 2.1.4
    • Religion in the public sphere 2.2
      • Employment issues 2.2.1
      • Religious displays on public property 2.2.2
      • Prayer in government/schools 2.2.3
    • Internal Revenue Service 2.3
      • Parish exemption 2.3.1
      • Electioneering 2.3.2
      • 990 Form 2.3.3
  • State capitol signs 3
    • Florida 3.1
    • Illinois 3.2
    • Washington 3.3
    • Wisconsin 3.4
    • Rhode Island 3.5
    • Athens, Texas 3.6
  • Freethought Radio 4
  • Conventions 5
    • Emperor Has No Clothes Award 5.1
      • Past recipients 5.1.1
  • See also 6
  • Individual award pages 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


The FFRF was co-founded by

  • ArchivesFreethought Radio
  • Dan Barker FFRF Interview from the Freethought Association
  • The Clergy Project
  • Churches Are Parasites on The Taxpayers
  • Tax Exemption of Churches

External links

  1. ^ Aubele, Michael (April 1, 2012). "Those who don't believe just as adamant as religious folk".  
  2. ^ Erickson, Doug (February 25, 2010). "The atheists' calling the Madison-based Freedom From Religion Foundation is taking its latest battle to the U.S. Supreme court. It's a milestone for the often-vilified but financially strong group, which has seen its membership grow to an all-time high.".  
  3. ^ Elbow, Steven (August 2, 2012). "Crime and Courts: Madison group ramps up national fight against religion in government".  
  4. ^  
  5. ^ "About FFRF: Getting Acquainted". FFRF website. Retrieved June 30, 2013. 
  6. ^ "The Clergy Project". Retrieved August 6, 2013. 
  7. ^ Winston, Kimberly (April 30, 2012). "For clergy, lost faith can lead to lost family, jobs".  
  8. ^ "Jerry DeWitt receives Freedom from Religion Foundation, Clergy Project Hardship Grant". The Clergy Project website. October 31, 2012. Retrieved June 30, 2013. 
  9. ^ "In Response to Mounting Violations, National Orgs Vow to Protect Atheist Students' Rights" (Press release).  
  10. ^ a b c d Clement, Paul D. "Petition for a writ of certiorari, Case No. 06-157". Office of the  
  11. ^ Demirjian, Karoun (27 February 2007). "Test for faith-based programs". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 31 August 2013. 
  12. ^ Hein v. Freedom From Religion Foundation, U.S. 2553 (U.S. June 25, 2007).
  13. ^ Boston, Rob (March–April 2007). "Slamming the courthouse door on church-state cases?".  
  14. ^ Demirjian, Karoun (1 March 2007). "Faith-based case divides justices". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 31 August 2013. 
  15. ^ Banerjee, Neela (September 28, 2007). "Indiana, faced with suit, takes chaplain off payroll".  
  16. ^ "Federal judge strikes down Montana 'faith-based' program".  
  17. ^ Freedom From Religion Foundation v. Montana Office of Rural Health, No. CV 03-30-BU-RWA (D. Mont.). Memorandum and Order, October 26, 2004. Retrieved July 1, 2013.
  18. ^ "Court rejects suit opposing religion in veterans' care".  
  19. ^ Freedom From Religion Foundation v. Nicholson, 07-1292 (7th Cir. August 5, 2008).
  20. ^ Poovey, Bill (June 7, 2004). "Federal appeals court in Tennessee affirms ban on Bible class at county's public schools". Daily News (Bowling Green, KY). Retrieved August 1, 2013. 
  21. ^ Doe v. Porter, 370 F.3d 558 (6th Cir. June 7, 2004).
  22. ^ Lederman, Doug (September 12, 2005). "Faith and health part II".  
  23. ^ Malladi, Sundeep (March 31, 2005), "Madison-based group sues University of Minnesota",  
  24. ^ Lederman, Doug (April 28, 2005). "Church, state and the academic pork barrel". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved August 1, 2013. 
  25. ^ Lederman, Doug (October 11, 2005). "Education Dept. suspends grant to Christian college". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved July 1, 2013. 
  26. ^ Murphy, Kevin (October 14, 2000). "Funding of Faith Works challenged".  
  27. ^ Freedom From Religion Foundation v.McCallum, 179 F.Supp.2nd 950 (W.D. Wis. January 7, 2002).
  28. ^ Freedom From Religion Foundation v.McCallum, 324 F.3d 880 (7th Cir. April 2, 2003).
  29. ^ Ross, JR (January 5, 2005). "Faith-based Grant to Arizona Group Blocked". The Madison Courier. Associated Press. Retrieved August 1, 2013. 
  30. ^ Freedom From Religion Foundation v. Towey, No. 04-C-381-S (W.D. Wis.). Memorandum and Order, January 11, 2005. Retrieved July 1, 2013.
  31. ^ "FFRF lawsuit halts federal faith prison program", Freethought Today (FFRF) 23 (9), November 9, 2006, retrieved July 1, 2013 
  32. ^ Freedom From Religion Foundation v. Gonzales, 06-C-0244-S (W.D. Wis. 2006). Complaint, May 4, 2006. Retrieved July 1, 2013.
  33. ^ Sullivan, Winnifred Fallers (September 6, 2011). Prison Religion: Faith-Based Reform and the Constitution.  
  34. ^ Freedom From Religion Foundation v. Thompson, 920 F.Supp. 969 (W.D. Wis. February 23, 1996).
  35. ^ Freedom From Religion Foundation v. City of Green Bay, 07-C-1151 (E.D. Wis. 2008). Decision and Order Granting Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, October 7, 2008. Retrieved July 1, 2013.
  36. ^ Freedom From Religion Foundation v. City of Warren, 12-1858 (6th Cir. February 25, 2013).
  37. ^ "Groups promise lawsuit if Giles County School Board orders reposting of Ten Commandments" (Press release). Giles County, VA:  
  38. ^ Doe 1 et. al v. School Board of Giles County, 7:11-cv-00435 (W.D. Va. 2012). Complaint, 2011. Retrieved July 2, 2013.
  39. ^ Salinas, Orlando (July 2, 2012). "Settlement reached in Giles Co. Ten Commandments battle".  
  40. ^ Niedowski, Erika (May 2, 2012). "Hundreds gather to defend Woonsocket memorial".  
  41. ^ Baron, Jim (March 5, 2013). "FFRF hasn’t changed stance on monument".  
  42. ^ Burke, Patrick (July 26, 2012). "Ohio city council removes image of Catholic college from town logo".  
  43. ^ "Whiteville settles lawsuit over cross atop tower".  
  44. ^ a b "Whiteville settles cross lawsuit".  
  45. ^ "Media Information Sheet (Montana Jesus Statue – FFRF v. Weber)" (Press release). The Becket Fund. Retrieved 29 August 2013. 
  46. ^ Brown, Simon (11 October 2011). "Monumental Mistake: A Statue Of Jesus In A National Forest Violates Church-State Separation". ACLU. Retrieved 29 August 2013. 
  47. ^ Frosch, Dan (24 November 2011). "Legal Battle Ignites Over Jesus Statue in Montana". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 August 2013. 
  48. ^ Freedom From Religion Foundation v. United States Forest Service (2012). Complaint, February 2012. Retrieved 29 August 2013.
  49. ^ Freedom From Religion Foundation v. United States Forest Service (2013). Order, 24 June 2013. Retrieved August 29, 2013.
  50. ^ Lee, Larry (26 August 2013). "Jesus statue in Montana target of Freedom From Religion Foundation". WSAU 550AM. Retrieved 29 August 2013. 
  51. ^ Hilton, John (July 18, 2012). "Prudhomme's cites surge of support, patrons after complaint by atheist".  
  52. ^ National Day of Prayer:
    • Gilgoff, Dan (April 16, 2010). "Federal judge strikes down National Day of Prayer statute".  
    • Richmond, Todd (April 16, 2010). "Federal judge rules National Day of Prayer unconstitutional".  
    • Banks, Adelle M. (22 June 2010). "Legal Skirmish Colors National Day Of Prayer". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 4 September 2013. 
  53. ^ Freedom From Religion Foundation v. Obama, 10–1973 (7th Cir. April 14, 2011).
  54. ^ Banks, Adelle M. (April 14, 2011). "Court dismisses challenge to National Day of Prayer".  
  55. ^ Orlowski, Aaron (February 17, 2013). "Anti-prayer group fires second salvo".  
  56. ^ Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. v. Geithner, 715 F.Supp2d. 1051 (E.D. Cal. May 21, 2010).
  57. ^ Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. v. Geithner, 644 F.3d 836 (9th Cir. May 9, 2011).
  58. ^ Vielmetti, Bruce (September 16, 2011). "Madison atheists sue to end IRS break to ministers".  
  59. ^ Freedom From Religion Foundation v. Geithner, 11-CV-626 (W.D. Wis. 2011). Complaint, September 13, 2011. Retrieved July 12, 2013.
  60. ^ Smietana, Bob (August 20, 2013). "Feds say OK to atheists on religion tax break". USA Today. Retrieved August 23, 2013. 
  61. ^ Reilly, Peter J. (August 18, 2013). "Government lawyers advocate For atheism as a religion".  
  62. ^ Erickson, Doug (22 December 2013). "With court ruling, clergy housing allowances come in for intense scrutiny". Wisconsin State Journal. Retrieved 25 December 2013. 
  63. ^ FFRF, Inc., Annie Laurie Gaylor and Dan Barker,v. Jacob Lew and Daniel Werfel (W.D. Wis. 23 November 2013). Text
  64. ^ Dilday, Robert (27 January 2014). "Obama administration to appeal clergy tax ruling". Retrieved 26 February 2014. 
  65. ^ Stewart, Katherine (November 20, 2012). "How US churches exploit tax exemption to promote faith-based politics".  
  66. ^ Davidoff, Judith (November 14, 2012). "Freedom From Religion Foundation sues IRS for not enforcing electioneering restrictions on churches".  
  67. ^ Bauer, Scott (November 15, 2012). "Freedom From Religion Foundation sues IRS over political activity by churches, religious groups".  
  68. ^ Wing, Nick (August 21, 2013). "Atheists can sue IRS over failure to enforce limits on churches' political speech". The Huffington Post. Retrieved August 23, 2013. 
  69. ^ Davidoff, Judith (December 28, 2012). "Freedom From Religion Foundation sues IRS for not requiring churches to annually maintain tax-exempt status". Isthmus. The Daily Page. Retrieved August 23, 2013. 
  70. ^ Farrington, Brandon (4 December 2013). "Group sets up Nativity scene at Florida Capitol". Retrieved 25 December 2013. 
  71. ^ "Furor erupts over atheist display at state capitol".  
  72. ^ "Illinois Northern District Court, Case No. 1:10-cv-00583". 
  73. ^ Woodward, Curt (December 1, 2008). "Atheist sign joins nativity scene, tree at Capitol".  
  74. ^ Tu, Janet (December 2, 2008). "Nonbelievers' sign at Capitol counters Nativity". The Seattle Times. Retrieved July 3, 2013. 
  75. ^ Simon, Mallory (December 5, 2008). "Missing atheist sign found in Washington state".  
  76. ^ "Coming to Capitol: 'Festivus' display".  
  77. ^ a b Roesler, Richard (December 11, 2008). "Group’s display an attack on Santa".  
  78. ^ Thibault, Kate (December 5, 2007). "Foundation adds to holiday display". The Badger Herald (Madison, WI). Retrieved July 3, 2013. 
  79. ^ Bauer, Scott (8 December 2013). "Holiday displays at Wisconsin Capitol include Festivus pole, atheists' nativity scene". Star Tribune. Retrieved 25 December 2013. 
  80. ^ Baron, Jim (17 December 2013). "Atheists' Statehouse display generates another Yule controversy". The Times. Retrieved 25 December 2013. 
  81. ^ Flowers, Rich (December 4, 2012). "Atheist sues city over nativity scene".  
  82. ^ Torre, Melanie; Compton, Kerri (May 8, 2012). "ETX Nativity scene approved for 2012, atheist banner still pending". Tyler, TX. ABC. KLTV. Retrieved July 14, 2013.
  83. ^ Flowers, Rich (October 12, 2012). "County judge denies FFRF’s request". Athens Daily Review. Retrieved July 14, 2013. 
  84. ^ McCarthy, Susan (August 4, 2009). "Out, atheist and American".  
  85. ^ History of FFRF conventions:
    • Behm, Don (16 October 1982). "This Group Pushes Freedom From Religion". The Milwaukee Journal. Retrieved 31 August 2013. 
    • "Atheists gather to push freedom of religion".  
    • McCollough, Chuck (December 6, 1992). "comes down for atheists' meet".   – via NewsBank (Subscription required.)
    • "Atheists to convene in Denver".   – via NewsBank (Subscription required.)
    • "Freedom From Religion holds convention". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. October 22, 2004. Retrieved July 30, 2013. 
    • "Atheists will be among friends at convention". ( 
    • "Lawton to speak to Freedom From Religion Foundation convention". Wisconsin State Journal (Madison). September 24, 2010. Retrieved August 7, 2013. 
    • "Portland site of Freedom from Religion national convention".  
  86. ^ "Freedom From Religion Foundation 36th Annual Convention" (Press release).  
  87. ^ Erickson, Doug (July 23, 2007). "Atheist Hitchens will speak at convention". Wisconsin State Journal. Retrieved August 17, 2013. 
  88. ^ "FFRF Awards". FFRF website. Retrieved August 17, 2013. 
  89. ^ "Past Conventions". FFRF website. Retrieved July 9, 2013. 


  1. ^ "Steven Weinberg". 
  2. ^ "Jesse Ventura". 
  3. ^ "Ted Turner". 
  4. ^ "Andy Rooney". 
  5. ^ "Janeane Garafalo". 
  6. ^ "George Carlin". 
  7. ^ "Richard Dawkins". 
  8. ^ "Katha Pollitt". 
  9. ^ "Robert Sapolsky". 
  10. ^ "Steve Benson". 
  11. ^ "Penn & Teller". 
  12. ^ "Roger, Pat & Melody Cleveland". 
  13. ^ "Alan M. Dershowitz". 
  14. ^ "Natalie Angier". 
  15. ^ "Ron Reagan". 
  16. ^ "Peter Singer". 
  17. ^ "Robyn E. Blumner". 
  18. ^ "Anne Gaylor". 
  19. ^ "Oliver Sacks". 
  20. ^ "Julia Sweeney". 
  21. ^ "Christopher Hitchens". 
  22. ^ "Daniel C. Dennett". 
  23. ^ "Ron Reagan". 
  24. ^ "Ursula K. Le Guin". 
  25. ^ "William Lobdell". 
  26. ^ "Cenk Uygur". 
  27. ^ "Ayaan Hirsi Ali". 
  28. ^ "Jerry Coyne". 
  29. ^ "Charles Strouse". 
  30. ^ "Dan Savage". 
  31. ^ "Juan Mendez". 

Individual award pages

See also

Past recipients

The Emperor Has No Clothes Award has been awarded by the Foundation since 1999 in recognition of “plain speaking" on the shortcomings of religion by public figures”.

Emperor Has No Clothes Award

FFRF has held conventions since 1977, one year after the group formed and one year prior to its official incorporation.[85] The 2013 convention was the 36th annual convention.[86] The conventions include speakers such as Christopher Hitchens,[87] awards are presented to recognize contributions to the advancement of the freethought community,[88] "NonPrayer Breakfasts" with "moments of bedlam," and piano music by FFRF Co-President Dan Barker.[89]


Freethought Radio, called the "only weekly Freethought radio broadcast anywhere", is an hour-long show broadcast live on WXXM-FM Saturdays at 11 a.m. CDT. It had also been broadcast on Air America before that service ceased operation in March, 2010. The show is hosted by the co-presidents of FFRF, Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor. 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 has an antireligious theme. A podcast archive is available at the FFRF website.[84]

Freethought Radio

In 2011 the FFRF was contacted by a local Austin citizen regarding the placement of a nativity scene on Henderson County courthouse property.[81] A letter of complaint was sent. After it was decided that the nativity scene would remain, the FFRF petitioned to have its own banner placed on the site, but county officials declined to discuss its placement. The FFRF banner was placed without permission on the courthouse property, but was soon removed.[82] In April 2012 the request to place the banner was denied.[83]

Athens, Texas

In 2013, the FFRF was allowed to place a sign in the rotunda, after complaints from its members, as a response to the crèches and other religious symbols that are already in place at the statehouse.[80]

Rhode Island

In 2013, a natural nativity featuring Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein and Mark Twain as the three wise men, the Statue of Liberty and an astronaut as angels and an African American girl baby doll to represent that "humankind was birthed in Africa" was added.[79]

[78] during the Christmas season, which reads:Wisconsin State CapitolThe FFRF maintains a sign in the


Front (left) and back (right) of sign displayed at the Wisconsin State Capitol. The sign in Washington displays the same message.

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.[73][74] The sign was stolen and then later found and returned to the state capitol.[75] The addition of the sign incited a large number of individuals and groups to request other additions, such as a Festivus pole,[76] a request by the Westboro Baptist Church for a sign stating "Santa Claus will take you to hell" (among other things),[77] a sign paying homage to the Flying Spaghetti Monster,[77] and many others.


On December 23, 2009, William J. Kelly, conservative activist and candidate for Illinois Comptroller, attempted to remove a FFRF sign at a holiday display.[71] The case was dismissed on several grounds, including that the lawsuit ran afoul of the First Amendment prohibition against content-based discrimination and that the plaintiff's rights had not been violated.[72]


In December 2013, the FFRF was permitted to hang a banner at the capital after a nativity scene was placed by a private group.[70]


State capitol signs

In December 2012 the FFRF filed suit against the IRS for not requiring the yearly filing of a 990 Form for religious institutions, which is required for all other non-profit organizations.[69] This action is pending.

990 Form

In November 2012, The FFRF filed a lawsuit against the IRS for not enforcing its own electioneering laws. The FFRF cited in its suit the placement of full page ads by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association; the diocese requiring priests to read a statement urging Catholics to vote; and the institution of "Pulpit Freedom Sunday". The group claims that not enforcing the federal tax codes which prohibit tax-exempt religious organizations from electioneering is a violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution.[65][66] The group states that the increasing involvement of religious institutions in politics is "blatantly and deliberately flaunting the electioneering restrictions."[67] The IRS had filed a motion to dismiss in federal court but in August 2013, it was decided that the lawsuit could proceed stating that the FFRF "has standing to seek an order requiring the IRS to treat religious organizations no more favorably than it treats the Foundation."[68]


On November 22, 2013, a federal judge ruled in the FFRF's favor.[62][63] In January 2014, the Department of Justice filed an appeal in federal court.[64]

The FFRF filed suit against the IRS over the parish exemption which allows “ministers of the gospel” to claim part of their salary as a tax-free housing allowance. This was originally filed in 2009, in California,[56][57] then subsequently dropped and re-filed in 2011, in Wisconsin,[58][59] due to standing. In August 2012, a federal judge stated that the suit could go forward. In August 2013, the Justice Department argued that leaders of an atheist group may qualify for the parish exemption. Gaylor states "this is not what we are after,"[60] going on to say that the government should not give religious groups any special treatment.[61]

Parish exemption

Internal Revenue Service

The FFRF, in January 2013, after receiving a complaint from a resident, asked the city council of Rapid City, South Dakota, to eliminate its practice of beginning each city council meeting with a Christian prayer. After the FFRF sent a second letter in February 2013, the mayor stated at that time that prayers would continue.[55]

In October 2008, the FFRF filed suit against the U.S. government over the statute establishing the National Day of Prayer (NDoP). In 2010, Federal judge Barbara Brandriff Crabb ruled it unconstitutional as it is "an inherently religious exercise that serves no secular function." [52] This ruling was appealed by the U.S. government. In April 2011, the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the FFRF's challenge to the NDoP, holding that the 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.[53][54]

Prayer in government/schools

In 2012 the FFRF wrote several letters to Prudhommes Restaurant, in Columbia, Pennsylvania, 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 the FFRF's attention has filed a discrimination complaint with the Pennsylvania Human Relations. The FFRF is only involved in an advisory capacity.[51]

In August 2012 the FFRF, on behalf of a Montana resident, sued the United States Forest Service. A special use permit for the placement of a statue of Jesus on federal land was granted in 1954 at the request of the Knights of Columbus.[45] The Forest Service continued to grant renewals of the permit until 2010. When the Service declined to renew, the Knights declined to remove the statue citing "tradition" and the "historical" value of the statue.[46][47] After on-line protests the statue was allowed to stay and the permit granted. The FFRF filed suit in February 2012.[48] In June 2013, a federal judge found in favor of the defendants, allowing the statue to remain.[49] In August 2013, the FFRF filed an appeal of the decision.[50]

In August 2012 the FFRF, on behalf of a resident, threatened a lawsuit challenging a Latin cross that had been displayed on top of the water tower of Whiteville, Tennessee. After the FFRF wrote three initial letters, but before the lawsuit was filed, the town removed one arm of the cross.[43] The removal cost the town $4,000, and as part of the settlement the town paid $20,000 in the FFRF's attorneys fees.[44] The town also agreed never to replace the missing arm and not to place other crosses on public property.[44]

On July 24, 2012, after receiving a letter from the 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.[42]

In May 2012, the FFRF, acting on a complaint from a resident, asked the city of Woonsocket, Rhode Island, to remove a Latin cross from a World War I and II memorial on public land.[40] The city refused to do so. The FFRF states that it is currently looking for a plaintiff in the area to represent for a suit,[41] which the FFRF have yet to do, citing the difficulty with another case that occurred with another plaintiff in the state, Jessica Ahlquist, in the case Ahlquist v. Cranston.

In September 2011, the FFRF, along with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), sued the Giles County school district on behalf of anonymous plaintiffs. A display of the Ten Commandments had been placed beside a copy of the U.S. Constitution at Giles County public schools. Prior to the suit, in January and June 2011, the FFRF and the ACLU had sent letters to the school board requesting removal of the display. The school superintendent ordered that the displays of the Ten Commandments be removed. The Giles County school board met in June 2011 and voted to overturn the superintendent's decision to remove the display.[37] After the suit was filed, the school board in 2012 agreed to remove the display and to pay attorneys' fees.[38][39]

In 2011 in response to the city of Warren, Michigan's refusal to remove a nativity display in the civic center, the FFRF sought to place a winter solstice display. The mayor refused the request and the FFRF brought suit. The suit was dismissed by Judge Zatkoff of the U.S. District Court; the dismissal was upheld by the U.S. 6th Circuit Court in 2013.[36]

In December 2007 the FFRF, on behalf of Green Bay residents, sued the city due to the placement of a nativity scene at Green Bay's city hall. Before the case was heard, the city removed the nativity scene. The judge then dismissed the suit, citing lack of jurisdiction. Since the nativity scene already was removed and a moratorium imposed on future such displays, there remained no basis for continued dispute. He went on to say, "the plaintiffs have already won. ...the Plaintiffs have won a concrete victory that changes the circumstances on the ground."[35]

Religious displays on public property

In 1995 the FFRF sued the state of Wisconsin for designating Good Friday as a state legal holiday. In 1996 the federal district court ruled that Wisconsin's Good Friday holiday was indeed a First Amendment violation because the "promotion of Christianity is the primary purpose of the law."[34]

Employment issues

Religion in the public sphere

In May 2006 the FFRF filed suit against the Federal Bureau of Prisons alleging that its decision to fund not only multi faith-based but also single faith-based programs were a violation of state and church.[31] The suit continued against other violations, but the parties later stipulated a dismissal of the case.[32][33]

The FFRF brought a suit against the awarding of a federal grant to MentorKids USA, a group providing mentors to children of prisoners, alleging that only Christian mentors were hired and that they were to give monthly reports on the children's religious activities.[29] In January 2005, the court vacated HHS's funding of this group citing "federal funds have been used by the MentorKids program to advance religion in violation of the Establishment Clause."[30]

In October 2000, the FFRF brought suit, as taxpayers in the state of Wisconsin, against Faith Works located in Milwaukee. Their case stated that a faith-based addiction-treatment program should not be used as a court ordered treatment program using taxpayer funds.[26] In January 2002 the ruling was decided in the FFRF's favor; that receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in public money is 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."[27] On Appeal, in April 2003, The Seventh Circuit later ruled against the FFRF on the narrower issue of whether prisoners joining specific faith-based programs on their own free will are coerced by government endorsement of religion.[28]

Criminal justice programs

In April 2005, the FFRF filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Education due to its distribution of funds to the Alaska Christian College, a Bible college run by the Evangelical Covenant Church of Alaska. The foundation stated that in the students' first year at the college, they take only religious-based courses, and finish that year with a Certificate of Biblical Studies. The college, the foundation says, "does not offer traditional college courses, such as math or English."[24] In October 2005 the FFRF and the U.S. Department of Education settled the lawsuit, with the Department of Education agreeing not to distribute $435,000 of federal funds to the College.[25]

In March 2005, the FFRF filed suit against the University of Minnesota due to its involvement 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, stating that state taxpayer funds are helping to fund a faith-based organization. In September 2005 the University agreed to end the partnership and to cease teaching "courses on the intersection of faith and health," with the FFRF agreeing to drop its lawsuit.[22][23]

In 2001, the FFRF, on behalf of anonymous plaintiffs, sued the Rhea County School District. The plaintiffs alleged that weekly bible classes were being held for all students in the elementary schools.[20] In June 2004, 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.[21]


In April 2006, the FFRF sued to challenge the pervasive integration of "spirituality" into health care by the Department of Veteran Affairs. Specifically stating that the practice of asking patients about their religion in spiritual assessments, the use of chaplains to treat patients, and drug and alcohol treatment programs that incorporate religion violated the separation of state and church.[18] The case was later dismissed after the Hein decision due to lack of standing.[19]

In April 2003, the FFRF, on behalf of Montana residents, sued the Montana Office of Rural Health and its executive director David M. Young along with the Montana State University-Bozeman and the Montana Faith-Health Cooperative. It was alleged that Young favored faith-based nursing parish programs for state funding.[16] 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.[17]

Health care

In May 2007, the FFRF, on behalf of Indiana taxpayers, challenged the creation of a chaplaincy pilot program 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 the FFRF's suit, Indiana ended the program.[15]

In June 2004, the FFRF challenged the constitutionality of the [10] The FFRF further asserted that "Congressional appropriations [are] used to support the activities of the defendants."[10][11] In 2007 the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that taxpayers do not have the right to challenge the constitutionality of expenditures made by the executive branch.[12][13][14]

Social services

Social programs


In June 2013 FFRF announced that, along with the Secular Student Alliance, it would work on educating students on their religious rights and would assist with rectifying violations.[9]

In March 2011, FFRF, along with the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, began The Clergy Project, a confidential on-line community that supports clergy as they leave their faith.[6][7] In 2012, it gave its first Freedom From Religion Foundation and Clergy Project "Hardship Grant" to Jerry DeWitt, a former pastor of 38 years who left the ministry to join the atheist movement.[8]

Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the FFRF, is the author of Women Without Superstition: No Gods - No Masters and the 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 FFRF.

[5] that involve governmental entities. FFRF also has a paid staff of fourteen, including four full-time staff attorneys.separation of church and state 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 [4], that once served as a church rectory. According to the 2011 IRS tax Form-990,Madison, Wisconsin and operates from an 1855-era building in [3]

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