FFRF Action Fund, while honoring censored Montana state Rep. Zooey Zephyr as its “Secularist of the Week,” is naming not just one but two “Theocrats of the Week.”
The national lobbying group praised Zephyr, Montana’s first trans legislator, who was silenced and then barred from the House floor for speaking out. She was disciplined after deploring a bill that would prohibit gender-affirming care for transgender minors, and warning the Legislature that it would have “blood on its hands” — an allusion to studies showing that such care can reduce suicidal thoughts. The GOP House leadership responded first by muzzling her and then barring her from the floor till the end of the session in early May, sparking protests in the chamber.
“When I rose up and said, ‘There is blood on your hands,’ I was not being hyperbolic,” Zephyr said Wednesday. “I was speaking to the real consequences of the votes that we as legislators take in this body.” She also said that House Speaker Matt Regier was “driving a nail in the coffin of democracy” by silencing her.
While Zephyr was an easy choice to applaud, FFRF Action Fund couldn’t decide between two men nominated as “theocrats.” So, the lobbying group is naming them both. In celebrating the second annual observance of “Faith Month” promoted by Concerned Women for America, U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., referred from the House floor to the “so-called separation of church and state,” insisted “all men are fallen,” that we are “one nation under God” and added, “This is a great time to observe our faith, we should never back down.” In his Twitter description, he describes himself foremost as “Christian.” His congressional bio says he’s “widely recognized as a leading defender of the right to life, religious liberty, free speech, the Second Amendment and free market principles.”
FFRF Action Fund also chooses for the dubious honor of “Theocrat of the Week” U.S. District Judge Sul Ozerden, a member of the Federalist Society, for ruling last week that Mississippi must permit religious as well as medical reasons for vaccine exemptions for children attending school. One of the family plaintiffs maintained that “God has created humans with functioning immune systems that were well designed to counteract threats.” The judge complained in his ruling that the state “has simply chosen not to accord an exemption when it is someone’s immortal soul that a parent believes would be at risk.”
These three public figures represent larger trends that are ongoing in this country.
“We are alarmed by the censorship of a trans legislator speaking her mind, the ignorance of the secular roots of our country and Constitution displayed by a member of Congress who thinks it’s the duty of government to promote his religious views, and by a judge equating religious-based anti-science views as being on par with having a medical need to avoid vaccinations,” comments Annie Laurie Gaylor, president of FFRF Action Fund.
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.