I've been to Oklahoma to speak on several occasions and know that there are lots of strong advocates of church-state separation there. AU has chapters in Oklahoma City and Norman, and Bruce Prescott, a member of the Americans United Board of Trustees, runs Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists. Journalist Frosty Troy's Oklahoma Observer frequently slams the Religious Right. Read more
Let's pretend it's the middle of October, and John Doe and Jane Smith are both seeking the same U.S. Senate seat. Doe, who is down a few points in the polls, hears a rumor that Smith attended a fund-raiser sponsored by a Jewish group at the home of a couple who happen to be Jewish.
Doe's campaign runs a television ad, replete with scary music, that says: "Jewish Americans and Jane Smith. She hid from cameras. Took 'Jewish' money. What did Jane Smith promise in return?" Read more
It's the age of MySpace and Facebook, text messages and e-mail, and for some fundamentalist evangelists, maybe even e-proselytizing.
According to reports from two Washington state newspapers, a local middle school student recently received this MySpace message from a 19-year-old church youth leader:
"Hey, 628 tonight! 6 o clock, free espresso for visitors. Super rad games and activities. Hang out with cool people. Plus you are really cool so it would just make it that much cooler. Are you going to be there? If you need a ride, I can hook it up:)" Read more
The government cannot build or maintain houses of worship. If your church needs a new roof or furnace, the congregation will have to raise the funds to pay for that, or take out a loan. That's so obvious it should be a no-brainer. Read more
In these hard economic times, it seems that our lawmakers would want to make the best of our public funds.
For the Pennsylvania General Assembly, that seems to include spending $13, 700 on a stack of holy books for state legislators. Read more
A story is told about the 17th Century astronomer Galileo. Supposedly, after he was ordered by the Inquisition of the Roman Catholic Church to recant his theory of the heliocentric universe, Galileo left the room muttering under his breath, "Eppur si muove" – Italian for "Nevertheless, it does move."
The tale is considered apocryphal, which is a shame because it's one of those stories that I wish were true. Read more
Whenever people ask me for a concrete example of how the Religious Right has affected public policy, I point to the spread of "abstinence-only" sex education. Thanks to pressure from Protestant fundamentalist and traditionalist Roman Catholic groups, federal tax money funds only these programs.
This is the case even though polls show most Americans support comprehensive sex education for young people – programs that stress the value of abstinence but also talk frankly and accurately about ways to prevent unwanted pregnancy and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Read more
More evidence has come to light that the Internal Revenue Service is cracking down on religious ministries that violate federal law by endorsing or opposing candidates for public office.
The St. Petersburg Times reports today that Bill Keller, who runs a TV and Internet ministry in that city, has been contacted by the IRS and asked to supply information about his political activities. Read more