Here's how to help keep religion out of government

Getting Started

  1. Be "out" and open about your atheism, humanism, or secularism whenever possible. Most importantly, advocate vocally for keeping religion out of government. Explain how it benefits everyone.
  2. Support local freethought organizations in your area. Here is a list of groups in Central Florida. Here is a list of groups across the state. And here is a tool you can use to find groups around the country
  3. Educate yourself and know where to go for help with questions about possible violations. We recommend the Freedom From Religion Foundation, American Humanist Association, and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. They are all fantastic organizations who are passionate about the work they do. If you have a special interest in schools like we do, here is a succinct guide on the major public school issues and here is an excellent (and free) book for a deeper dive into the issues with citations from case law.
  4. Remember that the Establishment Clause protects citizens from government. Elected officials and employees of government agencies sometimes assume they are in the role of citizen while at work. In some ways they are, but when they interact with the public, even passively, they are in effect "the state." If they promote religion in their official capacity, they may have violated the State and US Constitution's Establishment Clauses.
  5. Some of the organizations listed above cannot work on criminal cases, family law, workplace or private discrimination or harassment. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) might be a good place to start for help in these areas.

Simple Tasks

Be on the lookout for the promotion of religion on official web sites and social media pages. There are several ways to do that described below. Be particularly watchful for religious organizations and houses of worship which rent public/government spaces. If you are suspicious of religious entanglement or just want to confirm the agency is properly charging rent, request records from the agency including invoices and cancelled checks. Religious organizations and houses of worship should generally pay the same rental rates as other 501(c)(3) organizations.


Team Projects

Do you have a few people who can work together on some bigger issues? Try these ideas: 

  1. Focus on a known violator. Whether a county sheriff, a local school, or a particular agency; if they have demonstrated a lack of regard for the Establishment Clause you may find additional violations.
  2. If a violation is related to a scheduled event that may occur again later (monthly, yearly, etc.) mark your calendar so you can check back to see if it happens again.
  3. Use a schedule to follow up and track recurring events (see recurring events list below). Don't assume that because you have sent a complaint and received a promise that the issue won't come up again in the future.
  4. Educate your members and friends. Schedule workshops and discussion events to share what you know and make a list of all the questions the group has. Get those questions answered so everyone is on the same page.
  5. Educate the public about the need to keep religion out of government in the ways most appropriate for your group. Have a table or booth at a local event. 
  6. Work with other organizations with the same goals. You may be able to divide the work you're doing and share the load.
  7. Consider forming a chapter or affiliating with a national organization. Check out the list on our Allies page.

Sources:
Who to watch

  • Government offices and agencies (all departments)

  • Courts (all levels)

  • Law enforcement (city, county, state)

  • Public schools (K-12 and college)

    • Athletic and academic teams, music and theater, JROTC, student-led clubs

    • PTA / boosters / alumni organizations

    • Renting organizations (churches and religious after-school care)

  • Churches who have a record of using government resources

  • Religious organizations with missions that bring them into government spaces

  • Prior offenders who have demonstrated an ignorance or disregard for the law

  • Have other ideas for us? Let us know on our Contact page.


Methods:  
Here's how to be "Pro-active"

  • The people you know and those who follow the work of your organization

  • Social media accounts of the sources above

    • Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo, & Instagram are the most common

    • There may be multiple accounts in each municipality, school, etc. and there may be multiple types of social media platforms used

    • Follow the accounts and pages that those pages are following

  • Create Google Alerts for all keywords (see below) to harvest information for your area

  • Browse websites of sources above including new pages, announcements, calendar events

  • Subscribe to eNewsletters of the sources above, your allies, and your foes

  • News media

    • Get to know local journalists

    • Look for keywords in local media (use Google Alerts with site search techniques)

  • Drive-by & drop-in to government sites and events

  • Got other ideas for us? Let us know on our Contact page.


Keywords: 
Search for these

In no particular order:

  • [your organization name]
  • [your parent organization name]
  • [names of your spokespersons]
  • Creationism
  • Creationist
  • Evolution
  • Baccalaureate
  • Invocation
  • Prayer
  • Pray
  • Chaplain
  • Atheism
  • Atheist
  • Humanism
  • Humanist
  • Freethought
  • Freethinker
  • Parochial
  • Voucher 
  • “Inspirational message”
  • “Team chaplain”
  • “Freedom of religion”
  • “Religious freedom”
  • “Religious liberty”
  • “Blue law”
  • “Establishment clause”
  • “Free Exercise clause”
  • “First amendment”
  • “See you at the pole”
  • “Church bulletin discount”
  • “National day of prayer”
  • “Team prayer”
  • “Pregame prayer”
  • “Post-game prayer”
  • “Alcoholics anonymous”
  • “Ten commandments”
  • “Fellowship of Christian Athletes”
  • “Good News Club”
  • “Child Evangelism Fellowship”

Recurring Events:
Mark your calendar

  • National Day of Prayer
  • See You at The Pole
  • Bring your bible to school day
  • Pulpit freedom Sunday
  • Annual awards events
  • Swearing in ceremonies
  • Locally important anniversaries/events
  • Graduation & baccalaureate season
  • Sports seasons
  • Religious holidays
  • Memorial Day
  • 9/11
  • Veterans Day
  • Martin Luther King Day