a photo of three portraits side by side. The first is of Joy Reid and is titled secularist of the week. The second two are of brian Lenney and Elaine Price and they are labeled theocrats of the week.

FFRF Action Fund praises MSNBC’s Joy Reid and disses Idaho theocratic legislators 

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MSNBC national correspondent Joy Reid is being declared “Secularist of the Week” by FFRF Action Fund for boldly calling out white Christian nationalism as the leading reason for Trump’s success in Iowa’s caucus — and for taking undeserved guff for telling it like it is. The advocacy group is meanwhile singling out two Idaho state legislators as “Theocrat of the Week” offenders for seeking to repeal Idaho state constitutional protections against pouring public funds into religious schools. 

In early January, Idaho state Sen. Brian Lenney and state Rep. Elaine Price introduced House Joint Resolution 1, which would repeal the Idaho Constitution’s wise No Aid Clause prohibiting payment of public funds “in aid of any church or sectarian or religious society, or for any sectarian or religious purpose.” Amending Idaho’s Constitution would require two-thirds support in both branches of the Legislature and majority support from voters.

Price incorrectly frames the prohibition, which prevents the state from taxing individuals to support churches and religious education they disbelieve in, as “discrimination.” But the reality is that Idaho and many other states were wise to adopt no-aid provisions, and are free to erect a higher wall of separation between state and church than the U.S. Constitution. Fortunately, a 2023 No Aid Clause resolution did not make it out of committee, suggesting House Joint Resolution 1 will be an ill-fated venture. 

With the separation of church and state under assault in the Pacific Northwest, MSNBC national correspondent, author and liberal political activist Joy Reid was also under attack for singling out the obvious culprit for Donald Trump’s decisive success in Iowa’s 2024 GOP caucus: white Christian nationalists. While covering election proceedings on Monday, Reid pointed to the outsized majority white evangelicals hold in Iowa, their backing of Trump in caucus votes and their reasoning behind supporting Trump’s ideologies. 

During MSNBC’s live broadcast coverage of Iowa’s caucuses results, Reid quoted Robert P. Jones, author of The Hidden Roots of White Supremacy, saying that white evangelicals “see themselves as the rightful inheritors of the country, and Trump has promised to give it back to them.” Jones had reported that Iowa is composed of 61 percent white Christians, while the U.S. is only 41 percent white Christian.  

Reid noted in her own analysis that Christian nationalists believe God gave them this country and “that everyone who is not a white, conservative Christian is a fraudulent American, is a less real American.” On the broadcast, Reid urged Democrats to confront the reality that “this is now what white evangelicalism is. … They’re not trying to convince people and win people over through politics. What they’re saying is, ‘We own this country, and everyone will bow down to us.’” Reid’s comments are strongly supported by the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s Jan. 6 report, which highlighted the Christian nationalist roots of that attempt to overturn a democratic election in favor of a president who did the bidding of his extremist evangelical base.

Reid’s analysis led to inevitable backlash from the usual culprits, but we thank her for directly acknowledging the threat of white evangelicals to our democracy. White Christian evangelicals are Trump’s biggest base and are likely to vote to install a Trump administration that will work to dismantle the separation between state and church. 

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.