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Why You Shouldn’t Panic if This Group Sends You a Demand Letter

The leader of this secularist organization made a revealing admission recently.

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April 15, 2016

Buried deep in The Atlantic’s 3,200-word feature on First Liberty clients the Kountze Cheerleaders is a telling admission from the leader of Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF).

According to co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor, the anti-religion organization sent nearly 1,200 demand letters last year—yet of those, it only won or settled five lawsuits. There was no word on how many of the other 1,186 demand letters resulted in actual lawsuits, but according to Gaylor, that’s not the point.

Although FFRF sent out 1,186 letters to school districts, sheriff’s offices, and other government bodies last year, it only won or settled five litigated cases, Gaylor said…These letters are intended to have exactly the effect they had in Kountze: to scare school districts with the threat of a lawsuit. . .*  

*Emphasis added.

DEFENDING AGAINST EMPTY THREATS

Every year, First Liberty receives several requests for help from individuals and organizations who have received a demand letter from FFRF, claiming that they are somehow in violation of the First Amendment.

Those who don’t know about First Liberty or their legal rights often give in to the demands “alleged” in the letter out of fear, without consulting anyone on what the law is, claims Jeremy Dys, First Liberty Senior Counsel.

“These demand letters are often misleading because they usually present only one side of the law,” Dys said. “If you receive a letter from FFRF, although it is unlikely they will file a lawsuit, do not be scared. Instead, contact First Liberty, and let us fully inform you of your rights.”

FIRST LIBERTY’S REPEATED VICTORIES AGAINST THREATENING LETTERS

First Liberty has helped multiple individuals and organizations stand firm against such threatening letters, including:

  • League City, Texas
    In 2013, First Liberty Institute successfully thwarted an attack by the FFRF against League City, Texas after the FFRF threatened a lawsuit against the city for its practice of holding invocations before city council meetings.  Read more about this case.
  • In God We Trust
    First Liberty Institute is representing Police Chief Adrian Garcia of Childress, Texas, and his right to display “In God We Trust” decals on his department’s vehicles. Garcia received a letter from FFRF in September 2015 demanding that he remove the decals. He was one of many police chiefs and sheriffs across the country to receive such letters from FFRF—but there hasn’t been a lawsuit yet. Read more about this case.

First Liberty attorneys have helped over a dozen such individuals and organizations, thanks to the generosity of supporters who are passionate about enabling Americans to defend their rights against threatening letters like the ones from FFRF.

WHAT IF YOU RECEIVE A LETTER LIKE THIS?

So what happens if you receive a demand letter from FFRF attacking your free religious expression? First Liberty gives some advice:

  1. Don’t Panic.
    As Gaylor herself admitted, these letters rarely end in a lawsuit. And as First Liberty’s record of legal defense reveals, actual facts about religious liberty rights are often enough to stop these scare tactics in their tracks—most of the time, without litigation.
  1. Call First Liberty.
    If you are unsure about the letter, call or email First Liberty. Our attorneys can inform you of your religious liberty rights and how they pertain to your specific situation. Knowledge is power, so knowing your rights will give you the confidence to withstand scare tactics and unconstitutional demands.
  1. Take a Stand.
    If you ever do find yourself in a situation where your religious liberty rights are being threatened, don’t be afraid to take a stand. Your courage could inspire someone else to defend religious freedom, and could also lead to major precedent-setting victory benefiting millions more Americans for generations to come.

If your free religious expression is under attack, don’t panic. Call First Liberty immediately.

News and Commentary is brought to you by First Liberty’s team of writers and legal experts.