It’s the most wonderful time of the year – or not. The holiday season means something or nothing to many people. For the Religious Right, ‘tis the season for resurrecting the bogus “War on Christmas.”
Yesterday I attended a panel hosted by the Arab American Institute entitled “Combatting the Trend of Hate: A Discussion on Recent Hate Incidents.”
Represented on the panel were organizations that are working tirelessly to address the rise in hate incidents in the United States, including Muslim Advocates, Southern Poverty Law Center and the Sikh Coalition.
As an organizer with Americans United, I think a lot about how hate crimes and hate speech are deeply impactful for those who subscribe to minority religions in the United States.
Today, the Senate voted to adopt a final negotiated version of the National Defense Authorization Act. The House approved the same bill last week. Notably, the bill does not include the Russell Amendment, a sweeping provision that would have sanctioned taxpayer-funded employment discrimination. This is a clear win for fairness, equality and the freedom of religion and belief.
One of the most troubling aspects of a Donald Trump presidency is the stamp he might place on the federal courts.
There has been a lot of speculation about how President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to run the U.S. Department of Education, Betsy DeVos, might affect the issue of private school vouchers.
DeVos is known primarily for her advocacy of vouchers, and Trump has backed a nationwide plan with a staggering price tag of $20 billion. Many people are rightly alarmed.
But there’s another education-related issue we ought to be concerned about as well: creationism.
Yesterday, President-elect Donald J. Trump named Religious Right favorite Ben Carson to serve as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) secretary.
Carson, who’s a retired neurosurgeon, has no experience with affordable housing or fair housing laws. He does have experience, however, making controversial and bizarre remarks about any number of issues, including about religious freedom.
Carson joins a host of problematic cabinet nominees.
UPDATE: On Thursday, February 23, 2017, Americans United filed a friend-of-the-court brief in this case arguing that a hospital should not be able to take away employee pensions just because it's religiously affiliated. You can read the brief here.
Religious freedom is a fundamental American value, guaranteeing our right to believe—or not—as we see fit. That right to believe (and to act on those beliefs, as long as we are not harming third parties) enjoys powerful First Amendment protection.
That protection, however, does not mean that dissatisfied persons can file lawsuits in order to force the government into adopting policies that favor their personal religious beliefs.
Rhode Island is the smallest state in the union, but it has a lot going for it. Its beaches on the Atlantic Ocean draw tourists, and Providence, the largest city and capital, struck me as a pretty vibrant place the one time I visited.
Rhode Island also has a fascinating history, which tourism and marketing officials in the state are wisely using to their advantage.