The Wall of Separation Blog https://www.au.org/blogs/feed en Keeping The Faith(ful): Continuing to Unite For Separation https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/keeping-the-faithful-continuing-to-unite-for-separation <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Keeping The Faith(ful): Continuing to Unite For Separation</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/69587" lang="" about="/user/69587" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">LHayes</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Tue, 11/13/2018 - 18:58</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/about/people/rachel-laser" hreflang="en">Rachel Laser</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image"> <label>Image</label> <div class="item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/banner/public/images/blog_post/Group%20in%20Church.jpg?h=4f17fd39&amp;itok=FRlQBYU3" width="1700" height="525" alt="Group in church pew" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p><em>Editor’s note: This blog post by AU President and CEO Rachel Laser originally appeared in the <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/november-2018-church-state/perspective/keeping-the-faithful-continuing-to-unite-for">November 2018 issue</a> of AU's </em>Church &amp; State<em> magazine.</em></p> <p>"Forced worship stinks in God’s nostrils.”</p> <p>These words were spoken by Roger Williams, the Puritan minister who founded Rhode Island in 1636 as the first colony with complete religious freedom. He was also the original author of the famous “wall” metaphor later adopted by Thomas Jefferson. Williams argued for a “wall of separation, between the garden of the Church and the wilderness of the world.”</p> <p>Throughout our history, faith leaders – often Christians – have led the way in advocating for religious freedom for all, including non-believers. Another example is John Leland, a Baptist minister who provided crucial theological backing for James Madison’s and Jefferson’s strong support for religious freedom.</p> <p>Leland famously wrote, “The [religious] liberty I contend for is more than toleration. The very idea of toleration is despicable; it supposes that some have a pre-eminence above the rest to grant indulgence, whereas all should be equally free, Jews, Turks, Pagans and Christians.”</p> <p>Imagine how radical that was for 1790!</p> <p>In a 1965 interview with Playboy, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., asked how he felt about the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision ruling school-sponsored prayer unconstitutional, responded, “I think it was correct … In a pluralistic society such as ours, who is to determine what prayer shall be spoken, and by whom? Legally, constitutionally or otherwise, the state certainly has no such right</p> <p>And, as you may remember, our very own Americans United was originally grounded in several Protestant denominations and was founded by Christian leaders who met in a Methodist Church in Chicago.</p> <p>Times have changed, as has the country’s religious composition. AU’s make-up has evolved, and today our atheist, agnostic, humanist and religious minority supporters are counted among our staunchest.</p> <p>Still, people of faith, and particularly Christians, are crucial voices for protecting the separation of religion and government in our country.</p> <p>This is true for two reasons: their reach and their passion. First, according to Pew, over 70 percent of Americans are Christian (but note that white Christians ceased to be a majority in America starting in 2014). Christian leaders have a special role to play in convincing their fellow Christians that separation of church and state is vital to our country’s fabric and, given today’s politicization of this issue, also that there is nothing anti-religious or anti-Christian about it (quite the opposite, in fact).</p> <p>And second, Christian leaders, like other clergy, have a heightened appreciation for the importance of religious freedom – and often a supportive denominational history to draw on.</p> <p>To be clear, our non-religious and religious minority supporters are essential as well. We (as you might know, I am Jewish) understand how unsafe we can feel in a country when the majority religion is allowed to dominate. We also, alongside some of the other populations who are hurt by the current undermining of separation of church and state (such as women and those who identify as LGBTQ) can provide the vulnerable human faces and stories that help motivate many Americans to support this principle. And we have passion, too, about the importance of freedom of conscience!</p> <p>At the same time, I believe it is imperative for AU to continue to grow the already strong base of Christian influencers who champion our cause. That’s one of the reasons I was delighted to team up with the president of the National Council of Churches (NCC), a partnership of 38 Christian faith groups, and co-host a well-attended faith leaders’ meeting about Project Blitz, the Christian nationalist onslaught we are unmasking in this issue. </p> <p>And last month, I was honored to lead a workshop for the NCC’s 2018 Christian Unity Gathering, whose theme was “A.C.T. Now to End Racism: Hard Truths in Beloved Community.” I examined the connection between the undermining of church-state separation and racism. Over 50 Christian seminarians from across the country participated, as I helped them examine the connection between white privilege and fragility and Christian privilege and fragility.</p> <p>As a white person, I have led workshops before on white privilege, but I had never before, as a Jewish woman, asked a room of Christian leaders to think deeply about Christian privilege. It went well!</p> <p>I look forward to continuing to grow our Christian ranks alongside our non-believer and religious minority groups and finding moments to bring us all together. After all, Americans <em>United</em> was created to protect against <em>divisive</em> moments like this one.</p> <p><em>Rachel K. Laser is president and CEO of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.</em></p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issues field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Issues</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/religious-freedom" hreflang="en">Religious Freedom</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Tags</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/roger-williams" hreflang="en">Roger Williams</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/john-leland" hreflang="en">John Leland</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/martin-luther-king-jr" hreflang="en">Martin Luther King Jr.</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/national-council-of-churches" hreflang="en">National Council of Churches</a></div> </div> </div> Tue, 13 Nov 2018 23:58:45 +0000 LHayes 14812 at https://www.au.org 50 Years Ago, The Supreme Court Protected Teaching Of Evolution In Public School Science Classes https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/50-years-ago-the-supreme-court-protected-teaching-of-evolution-in-public <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">50 Years Ago, The Supreme Court Protected Teaching Of Evolution In Public School Science Classes</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/69587" lang="" about="/user/69587" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">LHayes</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Tue, 11/13/2018 - 11:39</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/about/people/liz-hayes" hreflang="und">Liz Hayes</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image"> <label>Image</label> <div class="item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/banner/public/images/blog_post/Classroom%20biology.jpg?h=119335f7&amp;itok=0sLha1qa" width="1700" height="525" alt="Biology classroom" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>Advocates for secular education in public schools still must regularly deflect <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/the-creationists-are-playing-the-long-game-you-should-too">attempts to insert creationism</a> into science curricula and discredit the sound science of evolution.</p> <p>But if it weren’t for a Supreme Court decision in the case <em>Epperson v. Arkansas</em>, which celebrated its 50th anniversary yesterday, it could still be <em>illegal</em> to teach evolution in some public schools.</p> <p>On Nov. 12, 1968, the Supreme Court unanimously struck down Arkansas’ 1928 anti-evolution law that made it “unlawful for any [public school] teacher … to teach the theory or doctrine that mankind ascended or descended from a lower order of animals.”</p> <p>“There is and can be no doubt that the First Amendment does not permit the State to require that teaching and learning must be tailored to the principles or prohibitions of any religious sect or dogma,” Justice Abe Fortas wrote in the majority opinion. “[N]o suggestion has been made that Arkansas’ law may be justified by considerations of state policy other than the religious views of some of its citizens. It is clear that fundamentalist sectarian conviction was and is the law’s reason for existence.”</p> <p>“The <em>Epperson</em> decision was literally pivotal,” Ann Reid, executive director of the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), told religion reporter Kimberly Winston in <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/november-2018-church-state/featured/she-stood-for-science-fifty-years-later-a-defense">a story for this month’s issue of <em>Church &amp; State</em> magazine</a>. “By putting a long-overdue end to the Scopes-era bans on the teaching of evolution, it empowered science teachers across the country to teach evolution more accurately, more honestly and more confidently.”</p> <p>Kimberly’s story has much more on the evolution of these anti-evolution laws; the story behind the young, Christian science teacher named Susan Epperson who challenged Arkansas’ draconian law; and how anti-evolutionists have … well … evolved in their strategy to insert religion into public school science curricula. <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/november-2018-church-state/featured/she-stood-for-science-fifty-years-later-a-defense">Check it out!</a></p> <p>Then, <a href="https://www.au.org/get-involved/updates">sign up for AU’s emails</a> so you can be alerted if attempts to undermine public education and religious freedom are occurring in your state.</p> <p><img alt="Susan Epperson" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="e521cfa1-da8b-4d92-9872-aaf569964d71" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/Susan%20Epperson%20Everett%20Collection%20Historical%20Alamy%20Stock%20Photo_1.jpg" /></p> <p><em>(Photo: Susan Epperson. Credit: Everett Collection Historical / Alamy Stock Photo)</em></p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issues field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Issues</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/classroom-instruction" hreflang="en">Classroom Instruction</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/schools" hreflang="en">Schools</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Tags</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/creationism" hreflang="en">Creationism</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/arkansas" hreflang="en">Arkansas</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/supreme-court" hreflang="en">Supreme Court</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-lawsuits field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Lawsuits</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/lawsuit/epperson-v-arkansas" hreflang="en">Epperson v. Arkansas</a></div> </div> </div> Tue, 13 Nov 2018 16:39:31 +0000 LHayes 14809 at https://www.au.org All Veterans Deserve Honor And Recognition – Not Just The Christians https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/all-veterans-deserve-honor-and-recognition-not-just-the-christians <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">All Veterans Deserve Honor And Recognition – Not Just The Christians</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/95" lang="" about="/user/95" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">boston</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Mon, 11/12/2018 - 09:18</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/about/people/rob-boston" hreflang="und">Rob Boston</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image"> <label>Image</label> <div class="item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/banner/public/images/blog_post/vet%20day%202018%20.jpg?h=b7e21045&amp;itok=Eo20rIbT" width="1700" height="525" alt="Flag " title="US flag" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>Yesterday was  Veterans Day, and today is the official federal observance. It's a time to remember the sacrifices all veterans have made to keep our country safe. And I do mean <em>all </em>veterans. Each and every one deserves our thanks on this day.</p> <p>Yet it seems lately that only <em>some </em>veterans are getting that recognition and gratitude. Around the country, disputes have popped up over alleged memorials to veterans that don’t, in fact, honor all veterans. These displays honor only some veterans – the Christian ones.</p> <p>That’s because they’re crosses. This issue is playing out most recently in Bladensburg, Md., a suburb of Washington, D.C., where a towering cross at a busy intersection had become the focus of <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/supreme-courts-first-religious-freedom-case-of-2018-19-term-maryland-owned">a legal battle</a> that has reached the Supreme Court.</p> <p>The 40-foot-tall cross was erected in 1925 to honor veterans of World War I. In this case, the cross remembers 49 local men who died in the war. We don’t know their religious affiliations, but we do know that men and women of many faiths and none served in the Great War, and we know that all deserve to be honored and remembered.</p> <p>Yet time and again, we are told that a cross memorializes everyone. Some people will go to great lengths to make strange arguments. An enormous cross on Mount Soledad near San Diego that was originally erected for clearly religious purposes – Easter sunrise services – was later <a href="https://www.au.org/media/press-releases/calif-cross-is-not-a-generic-symbol-of-military-sacrifice-says-americans-united">retroactively rebranded as a war memorial</a>. Federal courts were not fooled. Litigation dragged on for many years, but the cross, originally on public property, is now in private hands.</p> <p>A few years ago, a flap erupted in Knoxville, Iowa, after Americans United objected to residents’ plan to erect a display containing a cross as a war memorial. Many people in town <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/october-2015-church-state/people-events/war-memorial-cross-sparks-controversy-in-iowa">were angry at us</a>. They seemed to be incapable of looking inwardly and asking why they were so intent on erecting a memorial that didn’t include all of the veterans they claimed to cherish.</p> <p>The cross is not just an interesting geometric pattern. It’s the predominant symbol of the Christian faith. It has power and meaning – for Christians. It is not a generic symbol for memorializing the dead. It simply can’t play that role, and it’s offensive to all, Christians and non-Christians alike, to try to force it to.</p> <p>Our military, like larger society, is diverse in matters of faith. Public memorials should recognize that fact. On this day especially, let’s redouble our efforts to ensure that <em>all </em>of our veterans, no matter their religious or philosophical views, receive the recognition and honor they so richly deserve.</p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issues field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Issues</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/government-support-of-religion" hreflang="en">Government Support Of Religion</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/nontheists-rights" hreflang="en">Nontheists&#039; Rights</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/displays" hreflang="en">Displays</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Tags</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/maryland" hreflang="en">Maryland</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/supreme-court" hreflang="en">Supreme Court</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/veterans" hreflang="en">Veterans</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-lawsuits field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Lawsuits</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/lawsuit/maryland-national-capital-park-and-planning-commission-v-american-humanist-association" hreflang="en">Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission v. American Humanist Association</a></div> </div> </div> Mon, 12 Nov 2018 14:18:56 +0000 boston 14808 at https://www.au.org Matthew Whitaker Holds Disturbing Views On Church-State Separation https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/matthew-whitaker-holds-disturbing-views-on-church-state-separation <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Matthew Whitaker Holds Disturbing Views On Church-State Separation</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/95" lang="" about="/user/95" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">boston</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Fri, 11/09/2018 - 09:31</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/about/people/rob-boston" hreflang="und">Rob Boston</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image"> <label>Image</label> <div class="item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/banner/public/images/blog_post/Whitaker%202.png?h=ab2a0df1&amp;itok=4GmX3pEr" width="1700" height="525" alt="Matthew Whitaker " typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>In the nation’s capital, speculation abounds over how Matthew G. Whitaker, President Donald Trump’s new acting attorney general, might affect Robert Mueller’s ongoing probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Will Whitaker, who’s known to be a close Trump ally, try to impede the investigation or even shut it down?</p> <p>They’re important questions and well worth asking. But as this process moves forward, there are some other things you should know about Whitaker – mainly, he’s no fan of separation of church and state.</p> <p>“I have a Christian worldview. Our rights come from our creator and they are guaranteed by the Constitution,” Whitaker <a href="https://caffeinatedthoughts.com/2014/05/iowa-u-s-senate-candidate-profile-qa-matt-whitaker/">told a blogger</a> in 2014 when he unsuccessfully ran in the Republican primary for a U.S. Senate seat in Iowa. “So I would start all analysis of any law or anything else first with the Constitution and then work from there.”</p> <p>Later in the interview, he carped that the courts are too powerful, remarking, “The courts are supposed to be the inferior branch of our three branches of government. We have unfortunately offloaded many of our tough public policy issues onto the court and they’ve decided them. Unelected judges are deciding many of the issues of the day. There are so many [bad rulings].”</p> <p>Among those bad rulings, according to Whitaker, is <em>Marbury v. Madison</em>, an 1803 Supreme Court decision that established the high court's right to strike down unconstitutional laws. (Ask a lawyer to explain to you why Whitaker's view here is insane, or just <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/matthew-whitaker-is-a-crackpot/2018/11/08/69e8e190-e395-11e8-8f5f-a55347f48762_story.html?utm_term=.98b8e8b2f8ab">read this column</a>.)</p> <p>Whitaker also opposes court rulings upholding marriage equality. “I believe marriage is between one man and one woman,” Whitaker said. “Throughout history, it’s traditionally been up to the churches and to God to define that. … Here in the state of Iowa, we can’t even get our elected officials to do anything about it and that’s really frustrating.”</p> <p>Equally alarming <a href="https://www.rawstory.com/2018/11/new-acting-ag-matt-whitaker-said-wanted-biblical-view-justice-federal-judiciary-report/">are comments Whitaker made</a> during a debate of the GOP candidates sponsored by an Iowa Religious Right group. He attacked the idea that judges should have a secular outlook and implied that only certain types of Christians are qualified to sit on the bench.</p> <p>“If they have a secular worldview, then I’m going to be very concerned about how they judge…,” Whitaker said. “[W]hat I would like to see, I’d like to see things like their worldview, what informs them. Are they people of faith? Do they have a biblical view of justice?”</p> <p>Whitaker added that judges’ worldview should be grounded in the New Testament, asserting, “And what I know is as long as they have that worldview, that they’ll be a good judge. And if they have a secular worldview, where this is all we have here on Earth, then I’m going to be very concerned about that judge.”</p> <p>It looks as if Whitaker supports the noxious idea of a religious test for public office, something barred by <a href="https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/articlevi">Article VI</a> of the U.S. Constitution. His claim that having a “secular outlook” somehow makes a man or a woman unfit to be a judge is offensive and wrong; I’d even say it’s un-American. Our Constitution, after all, is a secular document. In light of that, it seems appropriate, and indeed necessary, for a judge to respect the idea that secularism is an important feature of our government.  </p> <p>Jeff Sessions, whom Trump on Wednesday fired as attorney general, held similar views and also believed that people with a secular outlook are somehow <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/confirmation-during-his-hearing-sessions-didn-t-allay-our-concerns">not to be trusted</a>. The bogus “Religious Liberty Task Force” Sessions headed is designed to promote the idea that “religious liberty” should be little more than a device to discriminate against others, take away their rights and do them harm. For those reasons, no tears were shed here at Americans United when Sessions was sent packing.</p> <p>Yet there’s certainly no reason to cheer. In Whitaker, Trump has managed to find someone whose views on our first freedom are just as bad and perhaps even worse.</p> <p><em>(Photo: Screenshot via </em>The Washington Post<em>)</em></p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issues field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Issues</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/discrimination-in-the-name-of-religion" hreflang="en">Discrimination In The Name of Religion</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/history-and-origins-of-church-state-separation" hreflang="en">History and Origins of Church-State Separation</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/nontheists-rights" hreflang="en">Nontheists&#039; Rights</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/religious-freedom" hreflang="en">Religious Freedom</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/religious-minorities-rights" hreflang="en">Religious Minorities&#039; Rights</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Tags</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/trump-administration" hreflang="en">Trump Administration</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/jeff-sessions" hreflang="en">Jeff Sessions</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/robert-mueller" hreflang="en">Robert Mueller</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/religious-tests-for-public-office" hreflang="en">religious tests for public office</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/article-vi" hreflang="en">Article VI</a></div> </div> </div> Fri, 09 Nov 2018 14:31:12 +0000 boston 14807 at https://www.au.org The Twisted Saga Of Anti-LGBTQ Clerk Kim Davis Ends With Her Unemployment https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/the-twisted-saga-of-anti-lgbtq-clerk-kim-davis-ends-with-her-unemployment <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">The Twisted Saga Of Anti-LGBTQ Clerk Kim Davis Ends With Her Unemployment </span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/95" lang="" about="/user/95" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">boston</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Thu, 11/08/2018 - 09:32</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/about/people/rob-boston" hreflang="und">Rob Boston</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image"> <label>Image</label> <div class="item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/banner/public/images/blog_post/Kim%20Davis%202%20cropped.png?h=a48c7a15&amp;itok=d9zQ4y-5" width="1700" height="525" alt="Kim Davis" title="Kim Davis " typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>I was glued to my smartphone Tuesday night, my stomach doing flip-flops, when a tweet caught my eye: Kim Davis had lost her re-election bid in Kentucky!</p> <p>Always the skeptic, I had to make sure this wasn’t “fake news,” so I hit Google. Sure enough, it was true. Davis, a Republican Rowan County clerk who became a darling of the Religious Right and a symbol of intolerance for the rest of us after she refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, was out. Democrat Elwood Caudill Jr. <a href="https://www.kentucky.com/news/politics-government/article221121745.html">defeated her by about 700 votes</a>.</p> <p>At that point, I wasn’t sure how the rest of the night was going to shake out politically, but I knew that no matter what happened, Davis losing her taxpayer-funded position would be a bright spot.</p> <p>For those of you who may have forgotten about this sordid little saga, let me remind you what Davis did. After the U.S. Supreme Court upheld marriage equality in June 2015, <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/14/us/kentucky-rowan-county-same-sex-marriage-licenses-kim-davis.html?_r=0">Davis publicly announced</a> that her fundamentalist religious beliefs precluded her from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and therefore they wouldn’t be getting them. They shouldn’t even bother to ask her because the answer would be no.  </p> <p>Understand, Davis didn’t just say that she’d pass the task onto someone else. Davis ordered <em>everyone</em> in her taxpayer-funded, government office to refuse to extend to LGBTQ people a service they had a legal right to receive. She treated an entire class of people like untouchables, like lesser beings, like second-class citizens. Later, she dictatorially decided that rather than issue licenses to same-sex couples, she’d stop giving them to all couples. She simply jettisoned that part of her job (while happily accepting her entire pay, of course).</p> <p>And for this, she was lauded as a hero by the Religious Right.</p> <p>Davis’ defiance of the law landed her briefly in jail during the summer of 2015. When she was released, Mike Huckabee and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), both of whom were running for president at the time, <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2015/09/08/politics/kim-davis-kentucky-clerk-2016-candidates-chris-christie/">nearly tripped over themselves</a> to get near Davis and praise her as kind of martyr.</p> <p>Davis was never a martyr, never a hero. She’s simply a person who decided to wield her narrow and dogmatic views as a weapon to lash out at others and discriminate against them. Had she been unable to fulfill the duties of her government job, the right thing for her to do was to resign. Davis didn’t want to do that. She wanted all of the perks of a taxpayer-funded position without actually fulfilling its obligations.</p> <p>Government’s first duty is to treat all of the people equally. Davis wasn’t willing to do that, which means she failed a crucial test for civil servants. Even the people of rural Rowan County (population: 22,300) could see that and sent her packing. (The fact that her antics <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/kim-davis-refused-to-recognize-marriage-equality-and-now-kentucky">stuck the taxpayers with a bill</a> for nearly a quarter of a million dollars may have played a role.)</p> <p>I have no idea what Davis will do next, although I suspect that she’ll end up like Roy Moore, a sad figure lurking on the fringes of the Religious Right’s rubber chicken circuit peddling a tale of woe that gets moldier by the year. (Maybe they’ll take her to more foreign countries <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/romanian-voters-reject-anti-marriage-equality-measure-and-kim-davis">where she’ll unsuccessfully spread hate</a>.)</p> <p>No matter what Davis ends up doing, the good people of Rowan County won’t be footing the bill for it. Good riddance!</p> <p><em>(Photo: Kim Davis with Mike Huckabee and Mathew Staver. Screenshot via CNN.)</em></p> <p>        </p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issues field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Issues</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/discrimination-by-public-officials" hreflang="en">Discrimination by Public Officials</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/discrimination-in-the-name-of-religion" hreflang="en">Discrimination In The Name of Religion</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/lgbtq-rights" hreflang="en">LGBTQ Rights</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Tags</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/kim-davis" hreflang="en">Kim Davis</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/gay-marriage" hreflang="en">Gay Marriage</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/rowan-county" hreflang="en">Rowan County</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/kentucky" hreflang="en">Kentucky</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/discrimination" hreflang="en">discrimination</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/mike-huckabee" hreflang="en">Mike Huckabee</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/ted-cruz" hreflang="en">Ted Cruz</a></div> </div> </div> Thu, 08 Nov 2018 14:32:37 +0000 boston 14806 at https://www.au.org Church-State Separation Was On The Ballot – How Did it Do? https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/church-state-separation-was-on-the-ballot-how-did-it-do <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Church-State Separation Was On The Ballot – How Did it Do?</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/69587" lang="" about="/user/69587" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">LHayes</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Wed, 11/07/2018 - 16:48</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/about/people/liz-hayes" hreflang="und">Liz Hayes</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image"> <label>Image</label> <div class="item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/banner/public/images/blog_post/Vote%20Sticker.jpg?h=3e1fd351&amp;itok=N69MNjKN" width="1700" height="525" alt="Woman holding &quot;I voted&quot; sticker" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>Church-state separation scored some major wins in the midterm elections yesterday.</p> <p>We saw historic victories by diverse candidates across the country – religious minorities, women, members of the LGBTQ community, people of color. Without church-state separation, which promises religious freedom for all, this wouldn’t have been possible. Some of those diverse new voices include:</p> <ul><li>At least 100 women were elected or re-elected to Congress, including the first two Muslim women: Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota. Omar wears a hijab and came to America as a Somali refugee – traits that are also firsts for a member of Congress.</li> <li>Also elected were the nation’s first Native American women to Congress: Democrat Sharice Davids, who is also the first LGBTQ person to represent Kansas, and Democrat Deb Haaland of New Mexico.</li> <li>At least two other states also elected their first openly LGBTQ members of Congress: Democrats Chris Pappas in New Hampshire and Angie Craig in Minnesota. Wisconsin Democrat Tammy Baldwin, the nation’s first LGBTQ senator, also was re-elected.</li> <li>A slew of statewide LGBTQ candidates also were elected, including Jared Polis, the first openly gay governor of Colorado – the same state that’s home to Masterpiece Cakeshop.</li> <li>Two transgender women were elected to the New Hampshire House of Representatives – Democrats Gerri Cannon and Lisa Bunker will join Virginia state Del. Danica Roem, elected last year, as the only openly trans members of any state legislature.</li> </ul><p>The U.S. House flip in particular provides an important check on the Trump-Pence administration’s relentless attacks on separation of religion and government. Some noteworthy races in the House included:</p> <ul><li>U.S. Rep. John Culberson, a Houston-area Republican incumbent of more than 15 years, was defeated. Culberson continuously <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/the-hits-to-the-johnson-amendment-keep-on-coming">waged war against the Johnson Amendment</a> – the federal law that ensures houses of worship don’t endorse candidates.</li> <li>In Oklahoma, Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Russell was defeated by Kendra Horn. Russell was the author of the “<a href="http://www.protectthyneighbor.org/2015-federal-legislation/2016/5/3/2017-national-defense-authorization-act-ndaa">Russell Amendment</a>” – an attempt in 2016 to sneak language into a federal spending bill that would have allowed religiously affiliated organizations receiving taxpayer-funded grants and contracts to discriminate in hiring on the basis of religion.</li> <li>In Virginia, Democrat Jennifer Wexton defeated Rep. Barbara Comstock. Wexton <a href="https://twitter.com/JenniferWexton/status/1024699695023771649">voiced opposition</a> to legislation that would allow taxpayer-funded adoption and foster care agencies to use religion to discriminate against prospective parents and children in need.</li> <li>Several staunch church-state separation allies were re-elected. They include U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and U.S. Reps. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) and Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.) – all sponsors of the <a href="///C:\Users\lhayes\Documents\Blogs\2018\bit.ly\2M4Owbw">Do No Harm Act</a>, which ensures that religious freedom laws serve as a shield to protect, not as a sword to harm. Also re-elected was Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), a longtime champion of preventing religious from being used to discriminate.</li> </ul><p>Other good news in the religious freedom realm:</p> <ul><li>The people of Arizona, led by teachers and moms, stood up to protect public education by <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/arizonans-vote-no-to-stop-a-massive-private-school-voucher-expansion">denouncing vouchers</a> for private, religious schools.</li> <li>Voters in Rowan County, Ky., rejected the extremism of <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/romanian-voters-reject-anti-marriage-equality-measure-and-kim-davis">Kim Davis</a>, who notoriously refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.</li> </ul><p>But we still face some tough challenges ahead. Those aligned with President Trump gained seats in the U.S. Senate. This not only includes church-state separation opponents like Ted Cruz in Texas and newly elected <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/sorry-religious-right-but-missouri-clergy-dont-support-ditching-the">Josh Hawley</a> in Missouri (a Johnson Amendment foe), but it also means Trump’s attempts to undermine religious freedom through federal judge appointments will escalate.</p> <p>Other concerns include:</p> <ul><li>Alabama voters overwhelmingly approved a <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/alabama-to-face-vote-on-ten-commandments">ballot initiative</a> that amends the state constitution to explicitly allow Ten Commandments displays in public schools and government buildings as long as they “compl(y) with constitutional requirements.”</li> <li>Iowa Rep. Steve King was narrowly re-elected, despite criticism over his past comments and affiliations with white nationalism – an association that was particularly condemned in the wake of the anti-Semitic attack on the Pittsburgh synagogue just over a week ago.</li> <li>Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) – a strong proponent for public schools – was defeated. Donnelly was one of the Democratic senators from battleground states whose defeat has been linked to opposition to Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court. Other defeated senators include Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Claire McCaskill of Missouri and possibly Bill Nelson of Florida. (He’s down by a narrow margin to outgoing Gov. Rick Scott and has demanded a recount.)</li> </ul><p>The outcome of the midterm elections doesn’t change our mission. Americans United will continue our work to support public schools, protect LGBTQ equality, fight for a woman’s right to affordable birth control, and end discrimination in the name of religion.</p> <p>Today, we celebrate the victories we achieved last night. Tomorrow, the fight to protect religious freedom for all, not just a select few, continues – with even more determination. I hope you’ll <a href="https://www.au.org/become-a-member">join us.</a></p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issues field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Issues</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/religious-freedom" hreflang="en">Religious Freedom</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/religious-minorities-rights" hreflang="en">Religious Minorities&#039; Rights</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/discrimination-in-the-name-of-religion" hreflang="en">Discrimination In The Name of Religion</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/lgbtq-rights" hreflang="en">LGBTQ Rights</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/churches-and-elections" hreflang="en">Churches and Elections</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Tags</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/donald-trump" hreflang="en">Donald Trump</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/congress" hreflang="en">Congress</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/arizona" hreflang="en">Arizona</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/alabama" hreflang="en">Alabama</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/colorado" hreflang="en">Colorado</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/kentucky" hreflang="en">Kentucky</a></div> </div> </div> Wed, 07 Nov 2018 21:48:52 +0000 LHayes 14805 at https://www.au.org It’s Election Day: Vote To Protect Church-State Separation https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/its-election-day-vote-to-protect-church-state-separation <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">It’s Election Day: Vote To Protect Church-State Separation</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/69587" lang="" about="/user/69587" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">LHayes</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Tue, 11/06/2018 - 11:41</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/about/people/liz-hayes" hreflang="und">Liz Hayes</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image"> <label>Image</label> <div class="item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/banner/public/images/blog_post/Woman%20Vote%20sign.jpg?h=dae49d59&amp;itok=PPCLoqg_" width="1700" height="525" alt="Woman holding vote sign" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>Today is Election Day. When you are exercising your right to vote, you are voting to protect another critical right – your right to freedom of religion and freedom of conscience, as promised in the First Amendment. This is the most important midterm election in recent history, and your religious freedom is on the ballot today.</p> <p>We are seeing a movement in this country – of condoning and normalizing violent rhetoric, hate speech and bigotry against religious and other minorities. Some of our leaders in Congress, in the states and particularly in the Trump-Pence administration are leading this movement, using religious freedom as a license to discriminate – especially against women, the LGBTQ community, and religious and other minorities.</p> <p>Today’s midterm elections are your chance to vote to put an end to this discrimination.</p> <p>Vote to protect the real meaning of religious freedom in this country: that everyone can freely choose a faith or choose to follow no religious path.</p> <p>Vote to protect a government that does not promote one faith over another and does not promote religion over nonreligion. </p> <p>Vote to protect religious minorities, a woman’s right to affordable health care, LGBTQ rights and other people who also vulnerable to being discriminated against in the name of religion.</p> <p>Vote to protect religious freedom for all, not just for a select few.</p> <p>The separation of church and state is THE thread woven throughout many of the issues on the ballot today. Many candidates are determined to close the gap between religion and government. They continuously pander to a narrow group of far-right fundamentalist Christians in order to undermine our nation’s core principle of separation of religion and government that is protected by the First Amendment.</p> <p>We see it every day in their words and actions – and more importantly, in the laws, policies and regulations they push forward and support, including:</p> <ul><li>Denying LGBTQ people and prospective parents who don’t practice the “right” religion the opportunity to foster children in need of loving homes.</li> <li>Violating the rights of women by denying them access to affordable birth control.</li> <li>Forcing taxpayers to funnel public money into private, mostly religious schools.</li> <li>Violating the rights of students by forcing prayer or religious displays in our public schools.</li> <li>Discriminating against the transgender community.</li> <li>Banning people from entering our country on the basis of their religion.</li> </ul><p>We cannot allow our elected leaders to impose the religious beliefs of a select few onto all of us. These beliefs have no place in our laws or policies.</p> <p>Today, please vote. Vote today to protect your right to freedom of religion. Vote to protect the First Amendment of the Constitution – the separation of church and state.</p> <p> </p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issues field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Issues</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/discrimination-in-the-name-of-religion" hreflang="en">Discrimination In The Name of Religion</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/religious-freedom" hreflang="en">Religious Freedom</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Tags</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/election" hreflang="en">Election</a></div> </div> </div> Tue, 06 Nov 2018 16:41:40 +0000 LHayes 14801 at https://www.au.org Supreme Court’s First Religious Freedom Case Of 2018-19 Term: Maryland-Owned Cross https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/supreme-courts-first-religious-freedom-case-of-2018-19-term-maryland-owned <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Supreme Court’s First Religious Freedom Case Of 2018-19 Term: Maryland-Owned Cross</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/69587" lang="" about="/user/69587" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">LHayes</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Mon, 11/05/2018 - 11:38</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/about/people/liz-hayes" hreflang="und">Liz Hayes</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image"> <label>Image</label> <div class="item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/banner/public/images/blog_post/Bladensburg%20Cross.png?h=734938f4&amp;itok=oVz8zLZz" width="1700" height="525" alt="Bladensburg Cross" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>The Supreme Court late Friday afternoon <a href="https://www.au.org/sites/default/files/2018-11/Bladensburg%20Cross%20Cert%20Grant%2011.2.18.pdf">agreed to hear a case</a> involving a huge Christian cross displayed, owned and maintained by the state of Maryland – the first case involving religious freedom that the court has agreed to hear this term.</p> <p>It should be a no-brainer that the 40-foot-tall cross that towers over an intersection in Bladensburg, Md., violates church-state separation – it’s an unavoidable symbol of Christianity located on government-owned property. Pretty much all that residents and visitors see is a huge cross as they enter the city.</p> <p>The cross sends a message that Bladensburg is a Christian town – which isn’t a very welcoming message to non-Christians. Publicly owned spaces should be inclusive and welcoming to people of all religions and the nonreligious; people should not be made to feel like they’re second-class and excluded because they don’t practice a particular faith.</p> <p>Though the cross was erected as a war memorial, a cross is an exclusively Christian symbol. Using a cross as a war memorial honors only Christian soldiers, while telling veterans and survivors who hold other beliefs that they are not valued equally. </p> <p>In response to the 2014 <a href="https://americanhumanist.org/press-releases/american-humanists-will-defend-church-state-separation-at-the-supreme-court/">federal lawsuit</a> filed by AU ally the American Humanist Association (AHA), the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last year agreed that the cross on public land showed clear government endorsement of Christianity: “One simply cannot ignore the fact that for thousands of years the Latin cross has represented Christianity. Even in the memorial context, a Latin cross serves not simply as a generic symbol of death, but rather a Christian symbol of the death of Jesus Christ.”</p> <p>The appeals court concluded that the cross overshadowed all secular monuments in the area. The court also noted the lack of symbols representing any other religions: “Christianity is singularly – and overwhelmingly – represented.”</p> <p>AHA also noted that the cross is in “dangerous disrepair”: The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission already has spent more than $100,000 on cross maintenance and has earmarked $100,000 more, which AHA said still may be futile. AHA pointed to government records referring to the cross as a “safety hazard” and a “public eyesore,” and an email from a commission official who wrote, “repairs to the structure have not proven sustainable or helpful in the long term.”</p> <p>In its filing in the Supreme Court, AHA noted over 30 federal cases in which crosses on public land have been deemed unconstitutional. But proponents of the cross are expected to ask the Supreme Court, including newly seated Justice Brett Kavanaugh – <a href="https://www.au.org/tags/brett-kavanaugh">who has a hostile record on church-state separation</a> – to overturn precedents that support the 4th Circuit’s decision.</p> <p>Americans United President and CEO <a href="https://www.au.org/media/press-releases/americans-united-urges-supreme-court-to-uphold-church-state-separation-and">Rachel Laser urged the Supreme Court</a> to affirm the 4th Circuit’s ruling: “Our Constitution protects the religious freedom of all Americans – religious and nonreligious alike – by ensuring that government does not endorse a particular faith or favor religion over nonreligion. This immense Christian cross on public land clearly shows government promoting one religion – Christianity – above all others.</p> <p>“We respect the state’s wish to honor veterans and agree with the appeals court that this worthy goal can be accomplished in ways that don’t promote a particular religion and that respect the religious diversity of Maryland’s citizens, including veterans,” Laser continued. “We urge the Supreme Court to affirm that this cross is unconstitutional.”</p> <p>The Supreme Court has not yet scheduled arguments in the case, <em>Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission v. American Humanist Association</em>. The arguments and a decision are expected by the end of June 2019.</p> <p><em>(Photo: The Bladensburg, Md., cross at the heart of the dispute, as seen in court documents.)</em></p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issues field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Issues</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/government-support-of-religion" hreflang="en">Government Support Of Religion</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/displays" hreflang="en">Displays</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Tags</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/maryland" hreflang="en">Maryland</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/supreme-court" hreflang="en">Supreme Court</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-lawsuits field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Lawsuits</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/lawsuit/maryland-national-capital-park-and-planning-commission-v-american-humanist-association" hreflang="en">Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission v. American Humanist Association</a></div> </div> </div> Mon, 05 Nov 2018 16:38:53 +0000 LHayes 14799 at https://www.au.org Theocracy Will Come To Washington State If This Legislator Has His Way https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/theocracy-will-come-to-washington-state-if-this-legislator-has-his-way <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Theocracy Will Come To Washington State If This Legislator Has His Way</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/95" lang="" about="/user/95" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">boston</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Fri, 11/02/2018 - 13:01</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/about/people/rob-boston" hreflang="und">Rob Boston</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image"> <label>Image</label> <div class="item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/banner/public/images/blog_post/flag%20and%20cross%20scary%20sky.jpg?h=6b50138d&amp;itok=pqlRgqqa" width="1700" height="525" alt="flag cross and sky" title="flag cross sky " typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>A state legislator in Washington <a href="http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2018/oct/26/rep-matt-shea-takes-credit-criticism-for-document-/">is under scrutiny</a> after issuing a document that outlines the “Biblical Basis for War.”</p> <p><a href="https://www.spokesman.com/documents/2018/oct/25/biblical-basis-war/">The manifesto</a> distributed by state Rep. Matt Shea (R-Spokane Valley) conjures up images of a “Holy army” that will overturn marriage equality and legal abortion as well as ban “idolatry and occultism.” Openly proclaiming that “God is a Warrior,” the document chillingly lays down rules for dealing with those who refuse to obey “biblical law”: They should first be given a chance to surrender, but if they choose to resist, they should be invaded, conquered and, in some cases, killed.</p> <p>“If they yield – must pay share of work or taxes,” the manifesto says. “If they do not yield – kill all males.”</p> <p>Faced with the document’s troubling contents, Shea decided to go with the always-popular claim that it was taken out of context. The document, he says, was part of a lecture series on the Old Testament.</p> <p>There’s good reason to be skeptical. Shea has long championed <a href="https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-features/matt-shea-washington-state-liberty-744850/">far-right causes</a> and hangs out with groups that advocate “Christian nation” ideas, promote conspiracy theories and even press for eastern Washington forming its own state. Many of these people would like to see a society built on “biblical law” – as they define it, of course.</p> <p>All Religious Right groups are extreme, but at the furthest fringe there rests a collection of people who openly embrace theocracy. They go by different names – Christian Reconstructionists, theonomists, dominionists or Christian nationalists. Many of them argue for a society based on the legalistic books of the Bible, especially Leviticus. In their view, anyone who fails to follow all of the laws outlined in these books – even the complex dietary restrictions – should be imprisoned or killed.</p> <p>In 1988, I <a href="https://www.au.org/sites/default/files/2018-11/Reconstructionist%20article%20Sept.%201988.pdf">wrote an article about this movement</a> for <em>Church &amp; State</em> and interviewed several of its leaders. It was highly disturbing to chat with people who would matter-of-factly explain to you that the Bible mandates the death penalty for homosexuality, blasphemy, “witchcraft,” adultery, “unchastity” and propagation of false doctrines, among other things.</p> <p>The Reconstructionists are no fans of democracy. One of them, Gary North, who declined my request for an interview back in ‘88, has written that because the Bible does not recognize democracy, there can be no such thing as “one man, one vote.” North said the world has been “threatened” by such ideas.</p> <p>He and other Reconstructionists also despise the very idea of freedom of conscience because, in their view, it can lead people down the wrong path. The founding father of Reconstructionism, a man named Rousas John Rushdoony who died in 2001, was clear on this, once writing, “In the name of toleration, the believer is asked to associate on a common level of total acceptance with the atheist, the pervert, the criminal, and the adherents of other religions as though no differences existed.”</p> <p>It’s sometimes argued that people with thinking this far around the bend are just cranks who can be safely dismissed. That would be a mistake. While the Reconstructionists are not likely to seize control next week, their movement has had a profound influence on America’s Religious Right groups.</p> <p>Calls for “biblical values” in public life or demands that a narrow slice of right-wing fundamentalist Christianity merge with the state contain more than an echo of Reconstructionist thought. Efforts to strip members of the LGBTQ community of their rights or control women’s reproductive lives are usually anchored in someone’s narrow interpretation of the Bible. Demands that our public schools stop teaching evolution or parrot bogus “Christian nation” history are rooted in the false belief that America would be better off if church and state were thoroughly mixed.</p> <p>Many people active in the Religious Right long to use their religion to tell the rest of us what to do, although they deny that when pressed. The Reconstructionists are at least honest enough to say it upfront. Shea’s manifesto is more of the same. It’s an insistence that the Bible (as interpreted by a small band of far-right fundamentalists) provides justification for whatever these folks want to do – and that usually involves them running everyone else’s lives.</p> <p>When you survey the incredible diversity of religious and non-religious thought in our free society, it’s hard to grasp that there are some people who think the founders made a mistake when they rejected church-state union and theocracy, opting instead for a wall of separation between church and state. Yet recent events have proven to us, once again, that religious and political extremism is alive and well in our nation.</p> <p>Advocates of theocracy are among us. They have a right to their strange beliefs – and we have a right to tell them how wrong they are.  </p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issues field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Issues</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/lgbtq-rights" hreflang="en">LGBTQ Rights</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/religious-freedom" hreflang="en">Religious Freedom</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/religious-minorities-rights" hreflang="en">Religious Minorities&#039; Rights</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Tags</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/rousas-j-rushdoony" hreflang="en">Rousas J. Rushdoony</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/christian-reconstructionism" hreflang="en">Christian Reconstructionism</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/gary-north" hreflang="en">Gary North</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/washington" hreflang="en">Washington</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/gay-rights" hreflang="en">Gay Rights</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/gay-marriage" hreflang="en">Gay Marriage</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/theocracy" hreflang="en">theocracy</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/dominion-theology" hreflang="en">dominion theology</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/christian-nation-myth" hreflang="en">Christian nation myth</a></div> </div> </div> Fri, 02 Nov 2018 17:01:41 +0000 boston 14797 at https://www.au.org Texas Freedom Network’s Kathy Miller: An Ally In Defending Church-State Separation https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/texas-freedom-networks-kathy-miller-an-ally-in-defending-church-state <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Texas Freedom Network’s Kathy Miller: An Ally In Defending Church-State Separation</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/69587" lang="" about="/user/69587" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">LHayes</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Fri, 11/02/2018 - 09:41</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/about/people/liz-hayes" hreflang="und">Liz Hayes</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image"> <label>Image</label> <div class="item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/banner/public/images/blog_post/Rachel%20Laser%20and%20Kathy%20Miller%201.jpg?h=cc1a7a62&amp;itok=mJgrUMZ0" width="1700" height="525" alt="Rachel Laser and Kathy Miller" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>Americans United works with a vast network of allies to protect church-state separation around the country, and we honored one of those dedicated friends this week – Kathy Miller, president of the <a href="http://tfn.org/">Texas Freedom Network</a>.</p> <p>“The Texas Freedom Network stands for many of the things Americans United stands for – religious freedom and individual liberties,” said Eugenie Scott, an AU board member and former director of the National Center for Science Education. “And against the teaching of creationism in science class, abstinence-only sex education, vouchers and other religiously inspired campaigns.</p> <p>“When science education standards, or history or health education standards, are being revised in Texas, Texas Freedom Network is there to help to keep religious ideas out and good scholarship in,” Scott continued. “Things would be so much worse in Texas if we did not have Kathy, her wonderful staff and Texas Freedom Network.”</p> <p>Miller was awarded the inaugural Barry W. Lynn Defender of the Wall Award, named after AU’s executive director <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/december-2017-church-state/cover-story/amazing-gala">who retired a year ago</a> after leading the organization for 25 years. Lynn was on hand to present Miller the award during AU’s Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., this week.</p> <p>Miller noted that President Donald Trump and his allies in the far right are trying to redefine fundamental American values. She referenced the attacks by the president and his base on freedom of speech, freedom of the press – and freedom of religion.</p> <p>“Religious freedom somehow now means the right to discriminate against those with whom you disagree,” Miller said. “The idea that a person’s faith allows them to deny another person’s humanity was, I thought, overturned when we abolished whites-only lunch counters. But I was wrong. Right now, we have a <a href="https://www.au.org/tags/muslim-ban">Muslim travel ban</a>, we have an attorney general who <a href="https://www.au.org/media/press-releases/americans-united-criticizes-attorney-general-for-use-of-bible-passage-to">cites the Bible</a> to support separating immigrant parents from their children at the border, we have entered the era of so-called religious refusals.</p> <p>“For too many people, ‘defender of the wall’ means something very different from what it means in this room, and what it has meant for more than two centuries of American history,” Miller continued. “That has to change. And we have to drive that change.”</p> <p>She encouraged activism, and especially lifting up younger, diverse voices to lead the way. She praised <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/aus-youth-activist-of-the-year-took-on-school-sponsored-prayer-in">Kaylee Cole</a>, a Louisiana student who received AU’s David Norr Youth Activist Award for successfully challenging her public school district’s practice of promoting Christianity.</p> <p>“There’s a lot to be done in this world by people like you, so I just want to say your bravery and activism is much admired and I hope you continue it for a very long time,” Miller told Kaylee.</p> <p>Miller also embraced the long history of cooperation between Americans United and Texas Freedom Network throughout the latter’s 23-year history. “This partnership culminated in victory in 2017, just last year, when the last shred of anti-evolution junk was removed from the <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/june-2017-church-state/au-bulletin/texas-adopts-new-science-standards">Texas science curriculum standards</a>. Texas kids now know the earth is more than 6,000 years old.</p> <p>“We’ve fought many battles together,” Miller said. “I believe this honor today reflects our shared values far more than it reflects anything that I or the Texas Freedom Network has done.”</p> <p><em>(Photo: AU President and CEO Rachel Laser, left, with Kathy Miller of Texas Freedom Network.)</em></p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issues field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Issues</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/schools" hreflang="en">Schools</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/classroom-instruction" hreflang="en">Classroom Instruction</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Tags</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/texas" hreflang="en">Texas</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/texas-freedom-network" hreflang="en">Texas Freedom Network</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/barry-lynn" hreflang="en">Barry Lynn</a></div> </div> </div> Fri, 02 Nov 2018 13:41:54 +0000 LHayes 14796 at https://www.au.org