Huckabee disses FFRF in robocalls
Ex-governor of Arkansas and FOX TV commentator Mike Huckabee has recorded a fundraising robocall pitch which disses the Freedom From Religion Foundation for “the National Committee for Faith and Family.”
The robocall misleadingly warns that “all public mention of god would be erased if the Freedom From Religion Foundation wins this [National Day of Prayer] case.”
The entire robocall (listen here) says:
“Hi, this is Mike Huckabee, and I want to thank you for taking my call. I’m calling today because the nation’s largest atheist organization, the Freedom From Religious [sic] Foundation, has claimed that our historic National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional. This is gonna prevent the time-honored tradition from taking place ever again. Look, my friend, this just isn’t right. Can you imagine our children and grandchildren growing up in a society where we are forbidden to pray as a nation? It’s unthinkable. But the reality is that all public mention of God would be erased if the Freedom From Religion Foundation wins this case. If they see a victory here, there’s gonna be a renewed effort to rewrite our national motto and the Pledge of Allegiance, both of which refer to our creator. That’s why we have to speak out against this right now. As a Christian, I’ve joined the National Committee for Faith and Family, which is dedicated to keeping god alive in our society and defend our god-given right to pray for our country. With so much at stake, I need you to be involved now more than ever. Please stay on the line to add your name to the committee and help us protect the National Day of Prayer. Thanks and god bless you.”
The National Committee for Faith and Family is best known for producing and funding Newt and Callista Gingrich’s pro-Christian, historically misleading “documentaries.” Its purpose, besides raising “awareness of the filth and anti-Christian bigotry in America today,” is “to restore decency, morality and the sanctity of family to America.”
“FFRF has signed up some new members and received some unsolicited donations as a result of this robocall,” noted Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF co-president, “but it’s maddening to see the religious right exploit FFRF’s work. The religious right appears to have a bottomless wallet when it comes to spending money to dismantle our precious ‘wall of separation between church and state.’ ”
“Many young freethinkers seem to be finding out about FFRF thanks to Huckabee’s calls, at least if our Facebook page is any indication,” says FFRF staffer Eleanor Wroblewski. Most recently, Cynthia Eck posted, “I’m thrilled to know you’re out there working to keep religious zealotry out of congressional and constitutional matters.”
Huckabee’s call has been going out since spring 2011, and continues even though FFRF’s federal National Day of Prayer lawsuit was thrown out April 14, 2011. The Seventh U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that FFRF and its plaintiffs did not have standing (that is, the right to sue) over the National Day of Prayer. The appeals court did not rule on the merits of the case. That ruling came down nearly a month before the National Day of Prayer, which takes place on the first Thursday of May. (A request by FFRF for review by the entire panel was turned down in June.)
The 1952 National Day of Prayer law, adopted at the behest of Rev. Billy Graham, reads:
“The President shall set aside and proclaim a suitable day each year, other than a Sunday, as a National Day of Prayer, on which the people of the United States may turn to God in prayer and meditation at churches, in groups, and as individuals.”
In 1988, religious-right lobbying groups urged Congress to set a fixed date, to better coordinate events entangling church and state on the prayer day.
U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Crabb, in her historic 2010 ruling siding with FFRF, wrote that the law went beyond mere ‘acknowledgment’ of religion because:
"Its sole purpose is to encourage all citizens to engage in prayer, an inherently religious exercise that serves no secular function in this context. In this instance, the government has taken sides on a matter that must be left to individual conscience. When the government associates one set of religious beliefs with the state and identifies nonadherents as outsiders, it encroaches upon the individual’s decision about whether and how to worship.”
Materials from FFRF’s fascinating court challenge, including exhibits, depositions of National Day of Prayer Task Force head Shirley Dobson, etc., can be read at FFRF’s website here.
FFRF corrected the false Congressional record, which justified the National Day of Prayer by purporting that our founders prayed at the Constitutional Convention. There was no such prayer, and that’s no surprise, since our founders were the first among nations to leave ‘god’ out of government and out of our foundational document.
FFRF is still pursuing two challenges of governor-proclaimed days of prayer, one in state court in Colorado and one in federal court in Arizona.
FFRF is looking closely at local, mayoral and statewide actions around the National Day of Prayer for future litigation. If you become aware of entanglements, such as government officials hosting National Day of Prayer events or prayer breakfasts through their offices and government websites, please contact FFRF legal staff at http://ffrf.org/legal/report/.