I generally do not listen to podcasts as they are released. I let them pile up for a few months. Sometimes when I find a new one that I like I will go back and download all or some of the older episodes.
Over the past few weeks, I listened to episodes of Freethought Radio from 2012. Freethought Radio is produced by the Freedom From Religion Foundation. One of the things that they do is file lawsuits against various state and local governments (and sometimes the federal government) over church/state separation.
They have members all over the country, and their members are informing them of First Amendment issues all the time. Many times the communities the FFRF is contacting complain about “outside groups telling us what to do.”
First off, it’s an outside group with local members. Secondly, it is amazing that so many people claim to be all for the Constitution yet do not understand it. Many people complain about the FFRF trying to “take away our religion”, or something like that. The case law is pretty clear that government cannot endorse religion. The FFRF is not trying to shut down churches. Opening a city council meeting with a prayer does violate the First Amendment. There is nothing stopping people from praying on their own time.
Recently they had a case down here in Texas in a town called Kountze near Houston. They talked about it quite a bit on Freethought Radio.
It was also mentioned on another podcast that I listen to: The Tribcast produced by The Texas Tribune , “a nonprofit, nonpartisan public media organization covering Texas politics and policy with verve.” I started going through the 2012 episodes right after I got done with the 2012 episodes of Freethought Radio.
The governor and the attorney general played the whole “outside groups coming in and trying to tell us what to do” angle. It’s still a load of BS. (Are they that stupid, or do they think the voters are that stupid?) What really shocked me was that when the Tribcast talked about it, nobody on the show seemed to know how a group in Wisconsin found out about this. (They usually have four people on each episode; they rotate amongst their writers and editors.) That really surprised me. I generally like The Tribcast, but I think they fell down on this one.
I found a couple of links on the Texas Tribune site about this case: here and here. There may be a few more that I did not look at, and maybe I skimmed these two a bit too quickly, but neither of them mentioned that the FFRF acts on complaints from local members throughout the country. There are some quotes from some locals, the AG and the governor, and there is a lawyer for the students who is mentioned by name. There is a link to a PDF of the original letter from the FFRF to the school, but no link to the FFRF home page, no quotes from the FFRF, why they would have standing to file a lawsuit if they were to do so, or mentions of any attempt to contact them.
If I am wrong, send me a link or point out a paragraph that I missed.
As I see it, it just seems like really bad journalism. Maybe the hosts of Freethought Radio were too busy to talk on the phone, or the FFRF lawyers were swamped, but I honestly think that if the Texas Tribune called the FFRF that they would have gotten some answers.
There are pictures of the staff members on the website. Reeve Hamilton sounded like a young guy, but he looks like he is still in high school. I guess the rarified air of Vanderbilt will do that to you. And that is a really WASP-y name. Jay Root and Ross Ramsey kind of look like what I thought they would. Sometimes when I see a picture of someone whose voice I have listened to, I realize I had formed a picture of them in my mind that I was not always aware that I was forming. But Evan Smith definitely looks like what I thought he would look like.
Image from Freedom From Religion Foundation website, assumed allowed under Fair Use. It is from a page called “Logos and Photos”. 1. I think it is kind of funny they of all organizations have a page called “Logos and Photos” considering that Logos has a theological meaning. 2. If they have a page with a few different pictures of their logo, I guess that means it is okay to use elsewhere.