A screenshot of Eleanor Holmes Norton on the show Freethought Matters

Holmes Norton honored as a civil rights champion while an ex-Trump official hints at religious violence


The FFRF Action Fund is pleased to name the venerable Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, who has represented Washington, D.C., in Congress for 15 terms, as our Secularist of the Week.

Holmes Norton has been a stalwart civil rights activist throughout her illustrious career. After attending Yale Law School, she argued and won a case in front of the U.S. Supreme Court and is currently a tenured professor of law at Georgetown University. She helped organize the 1963 March on Washington, and she worked with John Lewis when both were young members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. She also collaborated with Medgar Evers, and she bore witness to Fannie Lou Hamer’s mistreatment. She was part of the Mississippi Freedom Summer and has championed voting rights and self-government for the District of Columbia.

As a longtime member of the Freethought Caucus, and scoring a perfect 100 percent on the Action Fund’s congressional scorecard, Holmes Norton has demonstrated her commitment throughout her tenure in Congress to the foundational principle of keeping state and church separate. The Action Fund’s sister organization, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, was honored to have Rep. Holmes Norton as a recent guest on its TV show

Most recently, Holmes Norton has signed onto Rep. Jared Huffman’s excellent bill, the Health Share Transparency Act. As a co-sponsor, Holmes Norton adds her support to this bill, which seeks to rein in religiously based pseudoinsurance that has a history of defrauding consumers. This is yet another demonstration of Holmes Norton’s commitment to helping to improve the lives of every American.

In stark contrast is former Trump official William Wolfe. A self-described Christian nationalist, Wolfe has made a career out of trying to elevate his personal religious beliefs above all others — in direct conflict with the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of a secular government and no religious tests for public office. Wolfe spreads lies and stokes fear among like-minded Christians, such as absurdly claiming that “White Christians are the most targeted and persecuted class in America.”

Wolfe’s un-American rhetoric reached an ominous theocratic tone recently, however, when he stated at a “Jesus and Politics” event: “If we have ever lived in a point in time in American history since then that we could argue that now is the time to arms again, I think we are getting close . . . . Even though as Christians we seek peace, when the enemy is pressed upon us, if we fail to heed the call to arms, then we are acting as cowards.”

As a senior official during the Trump administration, Wolfe certainly understands that many of his extremist supporters will interpret a message like this literally, as a call for a religiously based armed insurrection. Choosing to make, and then defend, such a statement in a prepared speech is reckless and dangerous in the extreme, easily earning Wolfe the dishonor of being the Action Fund’s Theocrat of the Week.

The Action Fund seeks to highlight public officials who are most starkly advancing, and inhibiting, the foundational American principle of keeping state and church separate. By partnering with allies such as Rep. Holmes Norton, we work to preserve this crucial guarantee for true religious liberty, against the assaults of anti-American theocrats such as Wolfe who would sacrifice this cherished protection in order to impose their religious beliefs onto others.

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.