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The Friendly Atheist Podcast

Interview with Rachel Laser, President of Americans United

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In this solo episode (Jessica will be back next week), I spoke with Rachel Laser, who became president and CEO of Americans United for Separation of Church and State in February of 2018. She is the organization’s first non-Christian and female leader in its 75 year history. Rachel is a lawyer, advocate and strategist who has dedicated her career to making our country more inclusive.

We spoke about her work with religious organizations, whether the Johnson Amendment will ever be enforced, what people still don’t get about church/state separation, and more.

0:00 Intro
2:00 What did you take away from the results of the midterm elections?
5:16 What’s the relationship between AU and religious organizations?
10:02 How does your strategy shift given the Supreme Court’s right-wing shift?
17:23 How fundamental are lawsuits to AU’s mission?
22:18 Are there ways to get Republicans to support church/state separation?
27:04 What misconceptions do Americans have about church/state separation?
32:57 Will new IRS funding lead to enforcement of the Johnson Amendment?
36:03 What are the biggest looming church/state issues we should be concerned about?

YouTube Finally Banned Greg Locke

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Jessica and I spoke about several stories from the past week involving religion and politics.

— Actress Candace Cameron Bure is making pseudo-Hallmark movies that feature “traditional marriage,” not gay couples. (0:54)

— Christian hate-preacher Greg Locke just lost both of his YouTube channels. (23:28)

— “Highly religious Americans” are the biggest climate deniers. (29:40)

— Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt celebrated his re-election with a public prayer in which he claimed the entire state in the name of Jesus. (37:08)

— A Buddhist pilot won’t have to go through Alcoholics Anonymous after a settlement with United Airlines. (39:20)

— A Christian Nationalist who won a school board seat in Florida wants to bring back physical abuse in school, (43:48)

— After speaking out against her abusive Christian school, a Canadian woman had her home vandalized. (51:52)

The Growth of the Godless Caucus

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Jessica and I spoke about several stories from the past week involving religion and politics.

— Pat Robertson’s prediction failed. (3:00)

— How did the godless fare in the 2022 midterm elections? (13:35)

— Florida Governor Ron DeSantis deemed himself a “fighter” sent by the Christian God to defend the downtrodden. (33:06)

— Tennessee rightly got rid of a ban on pastors in public office. An (unenforceable) atheist ban, however, remained in place. (53:15)

— Amendment 3, a “religious freedom” amendment, failed in Arkansas. (1:03:50)

— Was the Air Force Academy promoting Christianity on the soccer field? (1:12:36)

The IRS Isn’t Investigating Churches

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Jessica and I spoke about several stories from the past week involving religion and politics.

— Greg Locke’s Halloween bonfire to destroy “witchcraft” artifacts, Catholic symbols, and other things he deems evil got a heavy dose of rain. (3:50)

— The IRS isn’t doing a damn thing to enforce the Johnson Amendment and stop churches from endorsing political candidates from the pulpit. (15:00)

— If the IRS doesn’t care, should more Democratic preachers use the pulpit to promote their candidates? That’s what Rev. Jamal H. Bryant did. (He’s not a hero, though.) (36:30)

— Yolanda Flowers, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate in Alabama, made a surprise appearance this week at Creationist Kent Hovind’s Dinosaur Adventure Land. (47:12)

— While New Mexico GOP gubernatorial candidate Mark Ronchetti insists he’s not an anti-abortion extremist, a prominent pastor is telling a very different story. (56:40)

— Four members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, all in Pennsylvania, were charged with sexually abusing a total of 19 kids. (1:07:36)

— Brazil defeated Jair Bolsonaro and his evangelical Christian base. (1:09:29)