A photo of Megan Hunt with the title secularist of the week and a photo of Loren Lippincott with the title theocrat of the week

FFRF Action Fund praises a secular Nebraska senator, deplores a theocratic one 

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FFRF Action Fund’s “theocrat” and “secularist” of the week designations are being bestowed to two Nebraska state senators who represent staggeringly different stances on preserving the secular nature of the U.S. government. Nebraska state Sen. Megan Hunt is awarded “Secularist of the Week” for her exceptional career as a secular state legislator while state Sen. Loren Lippincott is named “Theocrat of the Week” for his gross Christian nationalist statements following his misuse of a state legislative hearing room for a religious purpose.

Lippincott, representing Nebraska’s 34th district, falsified the purpose for using a hearing room in the Nebraska Capitol as “hosting district community leaders,” when, in actuality, he hosted a weekly bible studies session for state legislators and staff. According to state legislative policy, public reservations for meetings in Nebraska’s Capitol must “have a reasonable relationship to the legislative process,” which certainly doesn’t include bible studies. After the fact, the meeting was deemed a “religious event,” meaning the hearing room was booked for an unauthorized purpose. Lippincott still tried to claim that it wasn’t really a bible study.” The clerk who approved the request to use the legislative hearing room remarked: “I got lied to.” 

Lippincott then professed that the United States was “founded on Christian principles” and justified his falsehood by saying, “The whole idea of the separation of church and state is total hogwash.”

Lippincott has a long history of violating the separation of church and state in his short time in office. Since 2022, Lippincott has been behind Nebraska’s chaplain-in-schools bill, which would allow unlicensed chaplains to take on the same duties as bona fide school counselors. He also pushed a bill that would have permitted public school students to “receive academic credit for outside religious courses.” Lippincott claimed religious instruction would “help students perform better, have fewer behavioral issues and be more likely to stay in school than traditional students.”

The state senator has certainly earned his “Theocrat of the Week” designation for his disregard for the separation of church and state and peddling of bills that would promote Christianity in our public schools. 

FFRF Action Fund’s “Secularist of the Week” provides the antithesis of Lippincott’s dangerous Christian nationalism. Nebraska state Sen. Megan Hunt, representing Nebraska’s 8th District, has been a stellar secular stalwart since taking office in 2018. Hunt has self-described her tenure as breaking barriers, such as being the first “out” LGBTQ-plus state senator in Nebraska, a single working parent and an atheist.

In response to Lippincott’s justifications for reserving the Nebraska Capitol’s public space for a “religious event,” Hunt posted on X, “Grateful to Senator Lippincott for setting the precedent that we can use Legislative hearing rooms for literally any reason. I have many ideas of my own!”

Among Hunt’s accomplishments, she led a marathon filibuster to block anti-trans legislation throughout the entire Nebraska 2023 legislative session. In the end, the unicameral Legislature did unfortunately pass the anti-trans bill, with an attached 12-week abortion ban, but Hunt’s efforts in the state were not forgotten. Hunt had previously led an eight-hour filibuster to successfully block a draconian anti-abortion bill in 2022 that would have implemented a trigger law following the overturn of Roe v. Wade. For her contributions in killing the bill and calling the attempted abortion ban a “church bill” sponsored by Christian religious extremists, Hunt was the 2022 recipient of FFRF’s Champion of the First Amendment award.

“We’re lucky to have an ally like Hunt in Nebraska to counter the Christian nationalist agenda of colleagues like Lippincott,” says Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF Action Fund president. 

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.