A short first-of-its-kind feature spot, “Spotlight on Freethought and the First Amendment,” produced in conjunction with FFRF, has begun re-airing on select national public television af-filiates.
The spot is guaranteed to broadcast 500 times through April and reach 3 million people. When and where the short program, used as filler, will run cannot be announced beforehand. Public TV affiliates decide which fillers are needed the very day they are used. If you catch one of the spots on your local public TV affiliate, please be sure to thank it promptly and encourage it to rebroadcast “Spotlight on Freethought and the First Amendment.”
Larry Cohen was senior producer of the “Spotlight On” series, which airs short informational documentaries as filler on public television affiliates. This is still believed to be the first such segment featuring discussion of freethought, atheism — and the dangers of mixing state and church.
“More wars have been waged, more people killed, in the name of religion than by any other institutional force in human history,” says the narrator. “So, with such wildly contrasting beliefs in this country, why aren’t we at each other’s throats? Here’s why. It’s our Constitution and its very core of freedom from religion. Our country was founded in part by refugees seeking freedom, seeking to escape centuries of religious persecutions, holy inquisitions, witch hunts.”
The show description sent to affiliates reads: “America has more diversity, faiths, religions, and cultures than any other country in the world. And yet we all seem to get along pretty well. Only in a country where we can be free of religion in our government can we then be free to practice our own or choose not to follow any faith. This segment focuses on our freedom to practice our faith, or no faith — exactly as we want.”
The message talks about the benefits of the secular U.S. form of government, defines “freethought” and includes brief interviews with FFRF Co-Presidents Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor.
Watch for little “cameos,” including appearances by Darwin, Einstein, Susan B. Anthony, and shots of some mementos at FFRF’s office, Freethought Hall, a powerful quote by Mark Twain, and photographs by FFRF Director of Strategic Response Andrew Seidel of the Reason Rally crowd, and of then-FFRF Staffer Katie Daniel giving the Westboro Baptists the thumbs down when they picketed an FFRF event.
“We warmly thank FFRF members who contributed to FFRF’s advertising/PR fund, whose generosity made possible the filming and airing of this first-of-its-kind segment,” says Gaylor.
Only the first three months of airing are monitored by Nielsen Ratings, but “Spotlight On” segments often run far longer. The program is not offered as a part of any PBS national program service.