FFRF ensures no indoctrination during N.H. hunter training

Due to the Freedom From Religion Foundation, there won't be any Christian indoctrination permitted during official hunter training in New Hampshire.

The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department facilitates hunter safety classes throughout New Hampshire. A person who contacted FFRF attended a class on April 6-8 hosted by the Heritage Free Will Baptist Church in Laconia, N.H. The complainant reported that everyone who attended the class received religious flyers with prayers and information about church services. A pastor taught this class. The religious materials were enclosed with all of the official hunter's safety documents and study packets.

These proselytizing handouts were demeaning to non-Christians and nonbelievers, FFRF pointed out. Such a misuse of a state function for sectarian purposes was unacceptable.

"It is a fundamental principle of Establishment Clause jurisprudence that a government entity cannot in any way endorse religion," FFRF Co-Presidents Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor wrote to Glenn Normandeau, executive director of the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department. "Allowing churches to distribute their religious literature through a class co-sponsored by New Hampshire Fish and Game constitutes government endorsement and advancement of religion." 

FFRF urged the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department to make certain that future classes co-sponsored by the department not involve the distribution of such religious materials.

FFRF's missive got an ample amount of media coverage, and the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department took due notice.

"I want to assure you that we do take the complaint seriously, and have confirmed that materials were in fact provided to participants that were unauthorized and outside of the approved curriculum," Normandeau recently wrote back. "We have taken corrective action in the matter, and are reaffirming with all of our instructors that no materials should be distributed in any class other than those which are part of the approved curriculum." 

FFRF is proud to have played a pivotal part in ending a constitutional violation.

"These sorts of transgressions often slip under the radar," says FFRF Co-President Dan Barker. "We're thrilled that due to us such practices will not happen again in the state of New Hampshire."

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with more than 29,000 members across the country, including in New Hampshire. Its purpose is to protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational charity, is the nation's largest association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics), and has been working since 1978 to keep religion and government separate.

FFRF is a non-profit, educational organization. All dues and donations are deductible for income-tax purposes.

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