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All the most recent posts from AU's Wall of Separation Blog & The Protect Thy Neighbor Blog

Dear Friends Of Religious Freedom: A Timely Letter From Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson and the Baptists didn’t have much in common when it came to theology.

Jefferson, a deist, thought the moral teachings of Jesus were sublime, but he didn’t believe in the virgin birth, the divinity of Jesus or the inerrancy of the Bible. He thought the miracles reported in the New Testament were myths, and he considered the Christian doctrine of the Trinity incomprehensible.

Needless to say, his founding-era Baptist compatriots disagreed – to put it mildly.

Pulpit Politicking Panned: Once Again, Americans Say No To Church Electioneering

In the run-up to last month’s elections, Americans United had to work overtime to combat church-based electioneering.

The Alliance Defense Fund and its allies in the Religious Right were working to persuade pastors to endorse or oppose candidates from the pulpit during Sunday services. AU repeatedly reminded pastors and congregants that such actions are a violation of federal law. Under the Internal Revenue Code, all 501(c)(3) non-profit groups are barred from intervening in campaigns by endorsing or opposing candidates.

Happy Holidays, Mr. French!: Why The Religious Right Wants To Control Christmas

Last night, my wife and I attended the annual winter concert at my son’s middle school. Paul plays a mean clarinet, and I was proud to see him on stage with the advanced band tooting away on a variety of songs.

The pieces were drawn from various cultures. We heard an old Russian song called “Minka’s Sleigh Ride,” a Japanese folk tune titled “Sakura, Sakura” and my personal favorite – “The Three-Minute Nutcracker,” all of your favorite numbers from the Nutcracker ballet condensed into 180 seconds.

Unleashing Leviticus: Religious Right Rants Over Change In Military’s DADT Policy

On Saturday, the U.S. Senate voted to repeal the so-called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that banned openly gay and lesbian Americans from serving in the armed forces. The Religious Right is not pleased.

To hear Religious Right leaders tell it, the end is nigh. How soon before the North Koreans come rolling down Pennsylvania Avenue?

State Plate Grates: Kentucky Government Proposes ‘In God We Trust’ License Tags

There is trouble brewing in Kentucky once again. This time, the state government plans to offer new license plates for those who want to outwardly express their belief in God.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet announced plans to make available two standard-issue license plates next year – the traditional one that uses the state slogan “Unbridled Spirit,” and a new one that adds the words “In God We Trust.”

Good Medicine: Washington Pharmacy Board Makes The Right Call On Prescriptions And ‘Conscience’ Claims

The Washington Board of Pharmacy has made a wise (and unexpected) move.

Last night, the board voted 5-1 to keep in place a rule that protects patients’ rights. The regulation ensures that a pharmacy cannot refuse to fill prescriptions for “time-sensitive” medication, such as Plan B pills that can help prevent pregnancy after intercourse, just because it conflicts with the pharmacist’s “conscience” or religious beliefs.

Meeks Speaks: Chicago Mayoral Candidate Chafes At Limits On Church Politicking

Chicago mayoral candidate James T. Meeks doesn’t understand why his church can’t support his run for office.

As a pastor, he speaks from the pulpit every Sunday, mindful of the federal tax law that prevents him from seeking campaign support from his congregation.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Meeks says he follows the rules but he’s not happy about them.

Point Pleasant Unpleasantness: N.J. Town Council Should Give Up Sectarian Prayers

I was at a holiday dinner party in Philadelphia over the weekend, and the Austrian history professor sitting next to me asked what I did for a living. I explained my work with Americans United for Separation of Church and State and waited for his response.

He smiled wryly and said his fellow Europeans had solved the church-state problem long ago.

Ark Park Update: Ky. Gov. Says State Won’t Allow Job Bias – But That’s Not Enough

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear at least has one thing right: taxpayers should never be required to fund discrimination.

Earlier this month, Beshear outraged scientists, civil liberties activists and, indeed, lots of people who care about reasonable and responsible government, with his plan to provide tax incentives for the developers of a creationism-themed park featuring a full-size rendering of Noah’s ark.

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