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

Mid-Term Election Ballot Initiatives

By Nate Hennagin

Yesterday was a historic election that led to a Republican takeover of the U.S. House of Representatives and gains in the U.S. Senate. Even though most of the talk seems focused on the outcomes of the House, Senate, and gubernatorial races, we’d like to look at two ballot initiatives of relevance to church-state separation.

Tax Credit Tangle: Supreme Court Considers Legality Of Ariz. Religious School Aid

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments this morning in an important case dealing with government aid to religion.

Two issues are at stake in Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization v. Winn. The high court will decide whether an Arizona program that gives taxpayers a 100 percent credit for money they donate to private organizations that provide private school vouchers is constitutional.

The justices will also determine whether taxpayers have the right to challenge the program – a legal doctrine known as “standing.”

Arkansas Presents "The Lord Was Not on Trial"

As annual chapter meetings go, this is one not to be missed!  James T. McCollum, the student at the center of the landmark "McCollum Decision" by the US Supreme Court in 1948 (33 US 203), is the featured speaker.  A new book recalling events surrounding this historic event was recently published by Jim's brother, Dannel McCollum, titled "The Lord Was Not on Trial."

A Tale Of Two Cities: N.J. And Calif. Towns Take Different Approaches On Prayer

I was up bright and early Saturday morning to appear on Fox News Channel. Our topic was a perennial Fox favorite: prayers before government meetings.

It seems the borough council of Point Pleasant Beach, N.J., has been opening its meetings with the Our Father, the Roman Catholic version of the Lord’s Prayer, since the 1990s. A lawsuit was filed, and the council agreed to stop.

From The Pews To The Polls: Candidates Visit Churches, But Clergy Stay Neutral

Yesterday was the last Sunday before Election Day, and as usual, candidates in many communities flocked to the pews in hope of getting parishioners’ votes. That’s not a violation of federal tax law, as long as churches welcome all candidates and don’t endorse one candidate over another.

In fact, many of the news media reports we’ve seen from around the country suggest that most houses of worship played by the rules.

For example, several clergy urged congregants to go out and vote, but they didn’t tell them who to vote for.

Bully Boys: Arkansas Extremist Has Recanted, But Religious Right Gang Is Still Lurking Behind The School

This weekend, I’ll be joining the large crowds taking over Washington for Jon Stewart’s “Rally to Restore Sanity.”

I don’t really know what to expect of the event, or if it will actually “restore sanity.” But I do know Stewart’s title choice couldn’t be more perfect, especially when I consider the many people in this country who have taken to saying and doing really idiotic things lately.

Cross To Bear: Ohio Battle Over Preaching Teacher Moves Toward Resolution

A long-running legal battle over religion in an Ohio public school appears to be drawing to a close.

The case involves a former eighth-grade science teacher named John Freshwater at Mount Vernon Middle School, who was accused of teaching creationism, posting religious signs in his classroom and engaging in other legally dubious activities.

Ironically, none of that stuff, as bad as it is, brought Freshwater under scrutiny. His downfall began after he used an electronic device called a Tesla coil to burn a small cross on a student’s arm.

Sharia Charade: Oklahoma Ballot Measure Reflects Religious Intolerance

In just six days, Oklahoma voters will decide whether they want to write religious intolerance into their state’s constitution.

That’s what they will be doing if they vote “yes” for a constitutional amendment that would prohibit courts from considering “sharia” – Islamic law – when deciding cases. Since our Constitution already separates religion and government, this proposal has no legitimate purpose.

Supporters are simply fanning the flames of religious discrimination and intolerance. I hope Oklahomans see that.

I Sued The Sheriff: Unmasked Blogger Gets Some Justice In Florida

What would theocracy look like if it ever came to America?

Perhaps it would involve government agents working on behalf of a preferred religious group and ferreting out religious dissenters. It’s a scary thought, but what’s scarier is that this already has happened in Jacksonville, Fla., according to a report by the Associated Baptist Press.

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