This week, a Christian nationalist state lawmaker in Texas spread disinformation about us—and about religious liberty.

On Tuesday, Texas State Senator Mayes Middleton took to Twitter to defend SB 17 and SB 19, two bills that would allow teachers and administrators to force prayer on students.

“American atheists hate my bill putting prayer back in public schools—[this legislation] undoes decades of damage they have done in their lawsuits to takeaway [sic] religious liberties in schools,” he wrote.

Senator Middleton has it backwards. His bill harms “religious liberties” by letting school staff impose their personal religion on public school students. For decades, we have been fighting to protect students’ freedom of and from religion.

Thanks in part to our founder, Madalyn Murray O’Hair, whose case was consolidated with the case Abington School District v. Schempp, the Supreme Court struck down mandatory, teacher-led classroom prayer in 1963. Beforehand, Protestant teachers could force Jewish, atheist, Catholic, and students of minority religions to recite Protestant prayers.

Thanks to American Atheists’ 60 years of work, students today can choose to pray or not pray in school. And teachers and administrators can no longer force their own religion on students.

Yet apparently, Senator Middleton wants to bring us back to a time when school staff violated students’—and parents’—rights every day. This is wrong. We will continue to expose the dangerous consequences of school prayer bills in the press and in state capitals all over the country, including in Senator Middleton’s state of Texas.

We have a key advantage in this fight: Christian nationalist politicians like Sen. Middleton need to lie to make their message palatable. We don’t. We just need to keep telling the truth.

We know that maintaining secular public schools is of paramount importance to our members and supporters like you.

In our U.S. Secular Survey, 34,000 nonreligious Americans shared their views on policy issues. More than 90% of them ranked keeping public schools secular as “very important,” making it the top issue to atheists like you. And when asked where secular organizations like American Atheists should focus our resources, this issue again topped the list.

Atheists understand that this issue precedes all others—the Christian nationalists are trying to indoctrinate students into their worldview. Secular public schools are vital because they give young people the opportunity to learn how to think critically—and to meet people who believe differently than they do—before religious dogma is forced on them.

True to our organization’s original mission—and in line with our shared priorities—we will keep fighting to stop theocracy from taking over public education.

America is changing as Christianity continues to decline. Christian nationalists’ ideas are increasingly unpopular to the public at large. That’s why it’s so important that we continue to shine a light on the harmful and dangerous consequences of their bills—and on the true meaning of “religious liberty,” which must include freedom from religion.

Not only do we have the right message, but we also have seasoned activists on the ground in states across the country to oppose bad bills in all 50 states—and work to pass good ones.

Help support this vital grassroots activism. Make a tax-deductible donation. Whether it’s $15, $25, or even $150, your support will truly make a difference.

Thank you for standing with us.


Nick Fish

American Atheists is a 501(c)(3) non-partisan, nonprofit educational organization that relies on the support of members like you. Contributions are tax-deductible. Our Federal Tax ID Number is 74-2466507 and our Combined Federal Campaign number is 52217.

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