The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life yesterday released the results of a quiz on religion it gave to about 3,400 Americans. The results are being much discussed on the Web, chiefly because Pew found that atheists and agnostics did better on the 32-question test than evangelicals, Catholics and mainline Protestants.
By Nate Hennagin
On Friday, in a slim 7-6 decision, the Texas State Board of Education passed a resolution that purports to correct alleged “pro-Islam/anti-Christian” language in public school textbooks. The inflammatory resolution is another example of the SBOE putting politics before education and only adds more fuel to anti-Islam rhetoric.
It’s the debate that never ends – thanks to an aggressive minority that insists religious beliefs belong in the science classroom.
California public school teacher Mark Ferrante belongs in that group. According to the Modesto Bee, Ferrante recently announced that he planned to teach the latest variant of creationism, “intelligent design” (ID), alongside evolution at Modesto’s Roosevelt Junior High, sparking quite the community discussion.
Last week, Americans United urged Army officials to cancel an evangelistic event at Fort Bragg in North Carolina.
Unfortunately, we found out about this rather late. The complaint came in on Thursday, and “Rock The Fort” was scheduled for Saturday. AU’s Legal Department swung into gear with a strong letter to military officials, but it was not enough; they refused to cancel the event.
NORTH SHORE (IL)AU
Rounding out the month, the North Shore AU chapter will host an event on September 30 to discuss the next strategies in the evolution/creationism wars. Chapter president Matt Lowry recently had an opportunity to go "into the lion's den" and attend a talk by Casey Luskin, Fellow of the Discovery Institute. Matt will share the information he picked up from this event, and from recent research, on what the Discovery Institute's next assault against science and the church-state separation wall might be.
The program takes place Thursday, September 30th, from 7:00-9:00 PM at the Northbrook Public Library in the Pollack Room. The library is located at 1202 Cedar Lane, Northbrook, IL. The talk is free and open to the public, and refreshments will be provided. If you live in the Chicago area you won't want to miss this!
FLAGLER COUNTY (FL) AU
Because religion and partisan politics shouldn't mix, the Flagler County AU chapter hosted a discussion on September 21st to review and formulate a response under Project Fair Play to local concerns. In recent years, a small but aggressive band of political and religious leaders has pushed to politicize America’s houses of worship. These activists want to turn churches into cogs in a political machine that will elect candidates of their choice. The drive has reached a fever pitch.
Chapter leaders shared with community members the understanding that federal tax law is not intended to penalize churches and other tax-exempt entities or restrict their free speech rights. The rules are in place simply to distinguish between religious, educational and charitable institutions, which are entitled to tax exemption, and political organizations, which are not.
Area residents were encouraged to share their experiences with house of worship politicking.
GREATER HOUSTON AU
On September 20th the Greater Houston chapter, along with co-sponsors Planned Parenthood and The Houston Federation of Teachers, hosted a discussion on how religion is influencing what public schoolchildren are taught.
The panel includes Meryl Cohen, vice president of education with Planned Parenthood, who talked about sexuality education. Chris Comer, former director of science in the curriculum division of the Texas Education Agency, who spoke about science. And Andrew Dewey, high school history teacher and executive vice president of the Houston Federation of Teachers, who talked about how history is taught in public schools.
To get involved with the Houston chapter contact HoustonAU@flash.net.
On September 16 the Austin AU chapter was back in action hosting the Rev. Steven Baines, who led a workshop on religious outreach. The success of AU's work in preserving the separation of church and state often requires the cooperation of people of all religious and philosophical backgrounds. Effective communication is essential to this work, and that is what Rev. Baines touch upon is his presentation.
Our Louisiana chapter asked the question "Same Sex Marriage: Is It a Church-State Issue?" at their September 14th event. Law Professor John Devlin, from the LSU Law Center, and long time LGBT activist Joe Traigle presented compelling information about same-sex marriage and how it relates to advocacy on church-state separation.
CENTRAL VIRGINIA/GREATER RICHMOND AU
Central Virginia/Greater Richmond AU hosted the Rev. Steven Baines on September 14. Rev. Baines is the assistant field director for religious outreach at AU's national office. He spoke on the topic of "How Separation of Church and State is good for Religion." A message that is counter to what Religious Right advocates want people to believe. To get involved with the chapter contact David Sacks at firstname.lastname@example.org.