This week’s “Secularist of the Week” is U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin, Md., in honor of his impassioned opposition to what he called the “phony” Parents Bill of Rights Act, which he said is designed to ban books and suppress history.
Raskin noted that 1,600 books were recently banned in the United States, with the top three all extremely well-known works. Raskin accurately characterized Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner as focusing on “the dangerous fanaticism, authoritarianism and abuse of the Taliban, a right-wing religious fundamentalist movement all about censorship and repressing women’s control over their own bodies and their own fertility.”
Next most censored is The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood, which Raskin described as an “extraordinary dystopian novel about a right-wing misogynist movement which uses high technology and depraved religious ideology to control not only the minds of their followers but the private and public lives and the fertility of women.”
Then comes George Orwell’s 1984 because, Raskin quips, “they have no sense of irony.” He concludes: “We need more politicians reading books in America, and fewer politicians trying to censor books in America.” Raskin is co-chair of the Congressional Freethought Caucus.
FFRF Action Fund’s “Theocrat of the Week” is Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, a born-again Christian who disdainfully pronounced LGBTQ individuals “deviants” in the midst of the recent debate over passage of yet another draconian anti-gay rights law there, this time one that prescribes the death penalty for certain acts. (Museweni has ruled Uganda since 1986 with an iron fist.) Similarly, Ugandan lawmaker Musa Ecweru last week chillingly said during legislative proceedings that there is “no space in Uganda” for gay people. U.S. Christian nationalists and evangelical groups have poured more than $50 million in supporting such measures in Uganda.
The FFRF Action Fund’s website launched last week, naming Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as the debut “Theocrat of the Week” for one of many recent ignorant repetitions that “our rights come from God, not the government” and lauding as the first “Secularist of the Week” Oklahoma state Sen. Mickey Dollens, for saying, “When religion directs government, it is not democracy, it’s theocracy,” to counter a number of legislative pronouncements mixing religion and government.
FFRF Action Fund will continue to spotlight public figures who honor secular values — and those who eagerly flout them.
“FFRF Action Fund works to ensure that all elected officials honor our nation’s secular Constitution and heritage by keeping religion out of laws and social policy,” says FFRF Action Fund President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “We want to reward public officials who honor this vaunted principal, and call out those who deride it.” In this case, FFRF Action Fund threw in a foreign theocrat influenced by U.S. ministries, for good measure.
FFRF Action Fund is a 501(c)(4) organization that develops and advocates for legislation, regulations and government programs to preserve the constitutional principle of separation between state and church. It also advocates for the rights and views of nonbelievers, endorses candidates for political office, and publicizes the views of elected officials concerning religious liberty issues.