The Wall of Separation Blog https://www.au.org/blogs/feed en IRS Should Close Tax Loophole That Allows Private School Voucher “Donors” To Profit With Public Funds https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/irs-should-close-tax-loophole-that-allows-private-school-voucher-donors-to <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">IRS Should Close Tax Loophole That Allows Private School Voucher “Donors” To Profit With Public Funds</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, 09/25/2018 - 11:11</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/about/people/maggie-garrett" hreflang="und">Maggie Garrett</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/Money%20bag%20cropped.jpg?itok=NLhaDf0A" width="1700" height="525" alt="Money" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p style="margin-bottom:.0001pt; margin:0in 0in 8pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:normal"><span style="font-family:Calibri,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt"><span style="color:black">Private school voucher proponents are up in arms because the IRS has proposed closing a federal tax loophole that allows individuals who donate to voucher programs to <i>make money off their donations</i>. Vouchers are already troubling because they reduce the total funds available for public schools, waste taxpayer money on programs that are proven ineffective, lack transparency and provide no accountability to the taxpayer. A new wrinkle, however, is voucher proponents are pushing voucher programs as a way for individuals to cash in personally and line their own pockets with your tax dollars.</span></span></span></span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:.0001pt; margin:0in 0in 8pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:normal"><span style="font-family:Calibri,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt"><span style="color:black">How does this loophole work?</span></span></span></span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:.0001pt; margin:0in 0in 8pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:normal"><span style="font-family:Calibri,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt"><span style="color:black">Several states have adopted voucher programs called <a href="https://www.ncpecoalition.org/tuition-tax-credits/" style="color:blue; text-decoration:underline">tuition tax credits</a> (TTCs). Under this scheme, the government doesn’t give money directly to the student to attend private school. Instead, individuals or corporations “donate” money to an intermediary organization, often called a scholarship organization, and the scholarship organization writes a check for tuition to a private school. The state then fully reimburses the donor through a dollar-for-dollar tax credit. </span></span></span></span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:.0001pt; margin:0in 0in 8pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:normal"><span style="font-family:Calibri,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt"><span style="color:black">These “donors” aren’t charitable; in fact, they really aren’t spending a dime because the government fully repays them. Normally, when you donate to charity, the government doesn’t just turn around and give you all your money back. But here, the state has set up a shell game. All the money for the private school voucher still comes from the public treasury – money that’s sent to private schools rather than used for public schools or other public services. </span></span></span></span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:.0001pt; margin:0in 0in 8pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:normal"><span style="font-family:Calibri,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt"><span style="color:black">But the federal tax loophole creates a whole other level of fiscal irresponsibility. In six states, after the “donor” is fully reimbursed on their state taxes, the taxpayer can also take a federal tax deduction off the same “donation.” This allows the donor to make money off their donation to the voucher program. </span></span></span></span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:.0001pt; margin:0in 0in 8pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:normal"><span style="font-family:Calibri,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt"><a href="https://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2017/12/28/572587727/this-tax-loophole-for-wealthy-donors-just-got-bigger" style="color:blue; text-decoration:underline"><span style="color:#1155cc">For example</span></a></span><span style="font-size:14.0pt"><span style="color:black">, imagine that a wealthy South Carolinian who is in the top tax bracket gives $1 million to a “scholarship organization” that funds the state’s private school voucher program. South Carolina will reimburse that donor $1 million – this means the donor hasn’t spent anything. Nonetheless, the federal government considers that $1 million a charitable donation and therefore not taxable. At the top federal income tax bracket of 37 percent, the donor saves $370,000 on their federal taxes. But because the donor was reimbursed by the state for every dollar of their $1 million donation, that extra $370,000 savings is <i>pure profit</i>. It’s outrageous. </span></span></span></span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:.0001pt; margin:0in 0in 8pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:normal"><span style="font-family:Calibri,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt"><span style="color:black">The biggest loser in this scheme is the public schools. All $1.37 million in state and federal tax breaks could have been used to fund our public schools; instead, it is used to fund private, mostly religious schools and wealthy individuals.</span></span></span></span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:.0001pt; margin:0in 0in 8pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:normal"><span style="font-family:Calibri,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt"><span style="color:black">We applaud the IRS for recognizing that this scheme is fleecing America and for proposing to close the loophole. But, in an effort </span></span><span style="font-size:14.0pt"><a href="https://www.politico.com/newsletters/morning-education/2018/09/07/school-choice-supporters-flood-irs-with-criticism-333347" style="color:blue; text-decoration:underline"><span style="color:#1155cc">likely led by</span></a></span><span style="font-size:14.0pt"><span style="color:black"> the Association of Christian Schools International, the IRS is now being targeted with criticism.</span></span></span></span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:.0001pt; margin:0in 0in 8pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:normal"><span style="font-family:Calibri,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt"><span style="color:black">This is where you come in. We need you to support the IRS proposal. </span></span><a href="https://www.ncpecoalition.org/take-action/"><span style="font-size:14.0pt"><span style="color:#1155cc">You can write to the IRS here to tell it to close the loophole</span></span></a><span style="font-size:14.0pt"><span style="color:black"><a href="https://www.ncpecoalition.org/take-action/"> </a>that allows wealthy Americans to make money off of voucher programs. </span></span></span></span></span></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/private-school-vouchers" hreflang="en">Private School Vouchers</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/tuition-tax-credits" hreflang="en">tuition tax credits</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/irs" hreflang="en">IRS</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/south-carolina" hreflang="en">South Carolina</a></div> </div> </div> Tue, 25 Sep 2018 15:11:21 +0000 LHayes 14704 at https://www.au.org Values Voter Summiters Make The Case For Using Religion To Harm Others https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/values-voter-summiters-make-the-case-for-using-religion-to-harm-others <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Values Voter Summiters Make The Case For Using Religion To Harm Others</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, 09/24/2018 - 11:51</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/VVS%20Collage%202.png?itok=ke7UAGKa" width="1700" height="525" alt="Values Voter Summit speakers" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p style="margin:0in 0in 8pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:Calibri,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt"><span style="line-height:107%">During the <span class="MsoHyperlink" style="color:#0563c1"><span style="text-decoration:underline"><a href="http://www.valuesvotersummit.org/home" style="color:#0563c1; text-decoration:underline">Values Voter Summit (VVS)</a></span></span> over the weekend, leaders and followers of the Religious Right made clear they plan to continue their attempts to weaponize religious freedom as a means to justify discrimination, particularly against LGBTQ people and women.</span></span></span></span></span></p> <p style="margin:0in 0in 8pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:Calibri,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt"><span style="line-height:107%">Undermining the wall of separation between church and state was a common refrain throughout the two-day summit, which is sponsored every year in Washington, D.C., by the anti-LGBTQ, anti-reproductive rights, anti-religious diversity Family Resource Council.</span></span></span></span></span></p> <p style="margin:0in 0in 8pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:Calibri,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt"><span style="line-height:107%">Since President Donald Trump opted out of speaking at VVS after making consecutive appearances there, Vice President Mike Pence was the event’s headliner. On Saturday, he ticked off several ways he claims the administration has “taken action to protect and promote … the freedom of religion.” In reality, the Trump-Pence administration has attacked true religious freedom at every turn; Americans United has <span class="MsoHyperlink" style="color:#0563c1"><span style="text-decoration:underline"><a href="https://www.au.org/timeline-of-trump-administration-attacks-on-church-state-separation" style="color:#0563c1; text-decoration:underline">compiled a timeline</a></span></span> that tracks these attacks.</span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" frameborder="0" height="450" src="https://www.c-span.org/video/standalone/?c4750925/vp-mike-pence-undermining-religious-freedom-values-voter-summit-2018" width="512"></iframe></p> <p style="margin:0in 0in 8pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:Calibri,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt"><span style="line-height:107%">In referring to the <span class="MsoHyperlink" style="color:#0563c1"><span style="text-decoration:underline"><a href="http://projectfairplay.org/" style="color:#0563c1; text-decoration:underline">federal law that protects the integrity of nonprofits</a></span></span>, including houses of worship, by ensuring they don’t endorse or oppose political candidates, Pence erroneously claimed, “We ended enforcement of the Johnson Amendment.” Not only is the law still in effect, but Trump, Pence and the contingent of Religious Right leaders who want to boost their own political power by repealing the Johnson Amendment are ignoring the <span class="MsoHyperlink" style="color:#0563c1"><span style="text-decoration:underline"><a href="https://www.faith-voices.org/" style="color:#0563c1; text-decoration:underline">more than 4,500 faith leaders</a></span></span> around the country who’ve said they support the current law that protects their organizations’ missions and prevents them from being entangled in partisan politics.</span></span></span></span></span></p> <p style="margin:0in 0in 8pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:Calibri,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt"><span style="line-height:107%">Speakers including Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, Fox News personality Todd Starnes and a video from the American Family Association promoted school-sponsored prayer in public schools. And the vast majority of speakers, from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to NRA TV personality Dana Loesch defended Trump Supreme Court nominee <span class="MsoHyperlink" style="color:#0563c1"><span style="text-decoration:underline"><a href="https://www.au.org/tags/brett-kavanaugh" style="color:#0563c1; text-decoration:underline">Brett Kavanaugh</a></span></span>, despite his <span class="MsoHyperlink" style="color:#0563c1"><span style="text-decoration:underline"><a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/brett-kavanaugh-is-the-wrong-choice-for-the-supreme-court" style="color:#0563c1; text-decoration:underline">abysmal record on church-state separation</a></span></span> and the <span class="MsoHyperlink" style="color:#0563c1"><span style="text-decoration:underline"><a href="https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/senate-democrats-investigate-a-new-allegation-of-sexual-misconduct-from-the-supreme-court-nominee-brett-kavanaughs-college-years-deborah-ramirez" style="color:#0563c1; text-decoration:underline">proliferating accusations that he sexually assaulted women</a></span></span> when he was in high school and college.</span></span></span></span></span></p> <p style="margin:0in 0in 8pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:Calibri,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt"><span style="line-height:107%">But an even more common refrain throughout the two-day event was the push to use religious freedom as a sword to harm others, rather than as the shield of protection that is intended to be.</span></span></span></span></span></p> <p style="margin:0in 0in 8pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:Calibri,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt"><span style="line-height:107%">A featured speaker was Jack Phillips, the owner of <span class="MsoHyperlink" style="color:#0563c1"><span style="text-decoration:underline"><a href="http://www.protectthyneighbor.org/masterpiece/?rq=masterpiece%20cakeshop" style="color:#0563c1; text-decoration:underline">Masterpiece Cakeshop</a></span></span>, the Colorado business that wanted the Supreme Court to legitimize its decision to cite religious beliefs as justification for refusing to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple. Although the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Masterpiece Cakeshop because the justices felt Colorado officials showed animus toward religion when they ruled the bakery had violated anti-discrimination laws, <span class="MsoHyperlink" style="color:#0563c1"><span style="text-decoration:underline"><a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/the-supreme-courts-masterpiece-cakeshop-ruling-what-really-happened" style="color:#0563c1; text-decoration:underline">the Supreme Court did NOT rule</a></span></span> that a business has a religion-based right to refuse to serve same-sex couples and repeatedly reaffirmed our nation’s commitment to combating discrimination against LGBTQ people in businesses open to the public.</span></span></span></span></span></p> <p style="margin:0in 0in 8pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:Calibri,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt"><span style="line-height:107%">Joining Phillips onstage was Jonathan Scruggs, an attorney from the Religious Right legal group Alliance Defending Freedom, which is representing <span class="MsoHyperlink" style="color:#0563c1"><span style="text-decoration:underline"><a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/the-ripple-effect-of-the-supreme-courts-masterpiece-cakeshop-decision" style="color:#0563c1; text-decoration:underline">several more businesses that are going to court</a></span></span>s around the nation to seek the right to use religion as the basis for discrimination.</span></span></span></span></span></p> <p style="margin:0in 0in 8pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:Calibri,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt"><span style="line-height:107%">Also lauded were attempts around the country <span class="MsoHyperlink" style="color:#0563c1"><span style="text-decoration:underline"><a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/may-2018-church-state-magazine/cover-story/the-hand-that-blocks-the-cradle" style="color:#0563c1; text-decoration:underline">to allow taxpayer-funded adoption and foster care agencies</a></span></span> the right to use religion to deny children loving homes by discriminating against prospective parents. FRC President Tony Perkins announced the organization’s inaugural State Legislator of the Year award would go to Kansas state Rep. Susan Humphries (R-Witchita), who helped to shepherd the passage of <span class="MsoHyperlink" style="color:#0563c1"><span style="text-decoration:underline"><a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/in-the-last-moments-of-their-legislative-sessions-kansas-and-oklahoma-put" style="color:#0563c1; text-decoration:underline">one of these laws in Kansas</a></span></span> earlier this spring.</span></span></span></span></span></p> <p style="margin:0in 0in 8pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:Calibri,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt"><span style="line-height:107%">AU and allies – including many faith leaders – vehemently objected to the proposal, but Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer (R) signed it into law in May. “Religious freedom should never be used to justify discrimination against people or cause them harm – yet that is exactly what this law does,” <span class="MsoHyperlink" style="color:#0563c1"><span style="text-decoration:underline"><a href="https://www.au.org/media/press-releases/americans-united-criticizes-kansas-gov-colyer-for-signing-discriminatory" style="color:#0563c1; text-decoration:underline">said AU President and CEO Rachel Laser</a></span></span>. “It gives taxpayer-funded child welfare agencies the right to elevate their religious beliefs over what children need.”</span></span></span></span></span></p> <p style="margin:0in 0in 8pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:Calibri,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt"><span style="line-height:107%">Emilie Kao, Director of the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at the conservative Heritage Foundation, spoke at a breakout session about discriminatory adoption laws several states have passed and encouraged them to support a similar bill at the federal level. Kao noted that nearly a half-million children are in need of foster or permanent homes nationwide, but instead of recognizing that laws like these would reduce the number of prospective parents, Kao claimed, “These children need as many adoption agencies as possible.” Her claim ignores that it’s loving homes these children desperately need and that there are plenty of faith-based child-welfare agencies that have been operating for years.</span></span></span></span></span></p> <p style="margin:0in 0in 8pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:Calibri,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt"><span style="line-height:107%">Pence hyped the administration’s <span class="MsoHyperlink" style="color:#0563c1"><span style="text-decoration:underline"><a href="http://www.protectthyneighbor.org/contraception-regulations" style="color:#0563c1; text-decoration:underline">proposed rules</a></span></span> that would allow employers and universities to cite religious beliefs to deny women access to birth control coverage (these rules face several court challenges, including <span class="MsoHyperlink" style="color:#0563c1"><span style="text-decoration:underline"><a href="http://www.protectthyneighbor.org/posts/2018/6/27/au-and-allies-sue-trump-administration-and-notre-dame-over-back-door-negotiations-that-deny-women-access-to-contraception" style="color:#0563c1; text-decoration:underline">one filed by Americans United and allies</a></span></span>). Pence and Reagan-era Education Secretary Bill Bennett both also touted the administration’s <span class="MsoHyperlink" style="color:#0563c1"><span style="text-decoration:underline"><a href="http://www.protectthyneighbor.org/2017-2018-federal-legislation/2018/1/19/proposed-health-and-human-services-religious-freedom-rule" style="color:#0563c1; text-decoration:underline">proposal to allow health care providers</a></span></span> to make religion-based refusals to provide care – even lifesaving care – to patients in need, no matter how much harm it will cause. And multiple panelists made religion-infused statements opposing the transgender community and <span class="MsoHyperlink" style="color:#0563c1"><span style="text-decoration:underline"><a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/another-federal-court-delivers-a-victory-for-transgender-students-rights" style="color:#0563c1; text-decoration:underline">policies that would allow transgender people to use public restrooms</a></span></span> and other facilities that align with their gender identity.</span></span></span></span></span></p> <p style="margin:0in 0in 8pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:Calibri,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt"><span style="line-height:107%">It’s clear these attempts to undermine and redefine religious freedom won’t end any time soon. Americans United will continue to stand sentinel on the church-state wall – which ensures religious freedom for all, not just for some. We’ll be busy, but we’re up to the task. I hope you <span class="MsoHyperlink" style="color:#0563c1"><span style="text-decoration:underline"><a href="https://www.au.org/become-a-member" style="color:#0563c1; text-decoration:underline">join us</a></span></span>.</span></span></span></span></span></p> <p style="margin:0in 0in 8pt"><em><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:Calibri,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt"><span style="line-height:107%">(Photo: FRC President Tony Perkins awards the "State Legislator of the Year Award" to Kansas state Rep. Susan Humphries; Vice President Mike Pence; former Education Secretary Bill Bennett; and Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips.)</span></span></span></span></span></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/discrimination-against-customers" hreflang="en">Discrimination Against Customers</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/discrimination-in-health-care" hreflang="en">Discrimination In Health Care</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/lgbtq-rights" hreflang="en">LGBTQ Rights</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/denials-of-service" hreflang="en">Denials of Service</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/transgender-rights" hreflang="en">Transgender Rights</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/reproductive-rights" hreflang="en">Reproductive Rights</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/contraception" hreflang="en">Contraception</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/values-voter-summit" hreflang="en">Values Voter Summit</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/mike-pence" hreflang="en">Mike Pence</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/frc-0" hreflang="en">FRC</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/ben-carson" hreflang="en">Ben Carson</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/todd-starnes" hreflang="en">Todd Starnes</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/william-bennett" hreflang="en">William Bennett</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/mitch-mcconnell" hreflang="en">Mitch McConnell</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/adoption" hreflang="en">Adoption</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/bathroom-bans" hreflang="en">Bathroom Bans</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/kansas" hreflang="en">Kansas</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/masterpiece-cakeshop-v-colorado-civil-rights-commission" hreflang="en">Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/lawsuit/irish-4-reproductive-health-v-dept-of-health-and-human-services" hreflang="en">Irish 4 Reproductive Health v. Dept. of Health and Human Services</a></div> </div> </div> Mon, 24 Sep 2018 15:51:57 +0000 LHayes 14703 at https://www.au.org Religious Right Orders GOP To Put Kavanaugh On The Supreme Court https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/religious-right-orders-gop-to-put-kavanaugh-on-the-supreme-court <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Religious Right Orders GOP To Put Kavanaugh On The Supreme Court</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, 09/21/2018 - 10:19</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/F%20Graham%20cropped%20%28credit%20it%20to%20Matt%20A.J.%29.jpg?itok=3_kxAmjg" width="1700" height="525" alt="graham" title="graham" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">Leaders of the Religious Right have continued their headlong rush into moral degeneracy with a new demand: Republicans must do whatever it takes to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. </span></span></span></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"> </p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><i><span style="font-size:14.0pt">The New York Times</span></i><span style="font-size:14.0pt"> <span class="MsoHyperlink" style="color:#0563c1"><span style="text-decoration:underline"><a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/20/us/politics/brett-kavanaugh-religious-voters.html" style="color:#0563c1; text-decoration:underline">reports</a></span></span> that several right-wing evangelical leaders are incensed that the Kavanaugh nomination has been held up over allegations by Christine Blasey Ford that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when he was 17 and she was 15. They’re demanding that party leaders push the nomination through anyway and threatening to retaliate if they don’t.</span></span></span></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"> </p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">“If Republicans were to fail to defend and confirm such an obviously and eminently qualified and decent nominee, then it will be very difficult to motivate and energize faith-based and conservative voters in November,” said Ralph Reed, founder and chairman of the Faith &amp; Freedom Coalition.</span></span></span></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"> </p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas and a prominent supporter of President Donald Trump, asserted that Democrats are using Ford to delay the nomination, which has the potential to shift the ideological balance of the high court.</span></span></span></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"> </p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">Jeffress said he’s not sure if Ford is telling the truth but added, “But I can say with absolute certainty, that the Democrats don’t care who is telling the truth. Their only interest is in delaying and derailing this confirmation.”</span></span></span></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"> </p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">But arguably the most appalling comments were made by evangelist Franklin Graham. Appearing on TV preacher Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network, <span class="MsoHyperlink" style="color:#0563c1"><span style="text-decoration:underline"><a href="https://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/2018/september/franklin-graham-on-judge-kavanaugh-accusation-not-relevant" style="color:#0563c1; text-decoration:underline">Graham asserted</a></span></span>, “It’s just a shame that a person like Judge Kavanaugh who has a stellar record, that somebody can bring something up that he did as a teenager close to 40 years ago. That’s not relevant.”</span></span></span></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"> </p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">Graham went on to say, “We’ve got to look at a person’s life and what they've done as an adult and are they qualified for this position so this is just an attempt to smear him. … Well, there wasn’t a crime committed. These are two teenagers and it’s obvious that she said no and he respected it and walked away.”</span></span></span></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"> </p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">The only thing obvious here is that Graham is either not even remotely familiar with Ford’s account or has chosen to lie about it. <span class="MsoHyperlink" style="color:#0563c1"><span style="text-decoration:underline"><a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/california-professor-writer-of-confidential-brett-kavanaugh-letter-speaks-out-about-her-allegation-of-sexual-assault/2018/09/16/46982194-b846-11e8-94eb-3bd52dfe917b_story.html?utm_term=.b1284e351f6c" style="color:#0563c1; text-decoration:underline">Ford told <i>The Washington Post</i></a></span></span> that Kavanaugh and his friend Mike Judge, both of whom were intoxicated, pulled her into a bedroom, where Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed, put one hand over her mouth and pawed at her clothes with the other. Judge jumped on the two and knocked everyone off the bed, at which point Ford was able to escape. That’s miles removed from “she said no and he respected it and walked away.” </span></span></span></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"> </p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">Notice one thing about all of the comments by these self-appointed guardians of morality: Not one of them has expressed one iota of concern for what happened to Ford. Her trauma and pain mean nothing to them, nor does the considerable risk she undertook by stepping forward to tell her story. (Do they even care that Ford has been forced to <span class="MsoHyperlink" style="color:#0563c1"><span style="text-decoration:underline"><a href="https://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/407336-lawyer-kavanaugh-accuser-has-received-death-threats-and" style="color:#0563c1; text-decoration:underline">flee her home</a></span></span> and separated from her family due to death threats? Not one of them has condemned the harassment.) They either dismiss what Ford went through entirely or imply that she’s being used as part of a political plot.</span></span></span></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"> </p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">I suppose that shouldn’t surprise any of us. These are the same people, after all, who stuck by Trump after a videotape surfaced of him boasting about how much he likes to sexually assault women. These are the people who did not care one whit after reports emerged detailing how Roy Moore spent the 1980s harassing teenage girls in an Alabama mall and <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/woman-says-roy-moore-initiated-sexual-encounter-when-she-was-14-he-was-32/2017/11/09/1f495878-c293-11e7-afe9-4f60b5a6c4a0_story.html?utm_term=.8f2f32de0390">assaulting one</a>.  </span></span></span></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"> </p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">The leaders and followers of the Religious Right have faced several moral tests since Trump emerged as the GOP’s standard-bearer – and failed every one. They applauded when Trump’s cruel <a href="https://www.au.org/tags/muslim-ban">Muslim ban</a> divided families. They made excuses when Trump <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/to-russia-with-love-why-the-religious-right-is-rootin-for-putin">cozied up to a Russian tyrant</a>. They smiled benignly after <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/in-their-responses-to-charlottesville-trump-and-his-religious-right-allies">he could not muster the simple decency</a> to condemn the neo-Nazis who trooped through Charlottesville. They cheered when he told <span class="MsoHyperlink" style="color:#0563c1"><span style="text-decoration:underline"><a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2018/08/01/president-trump-has-made-4229-false-or-misleading-claims-in-558-days/?utm_term=.844e8d9ca33a" style="color:#0563c1; text-decoration:underline">innumerable lies</a></span></span> about Christmas greetings, political campaigning in churches and a host of other issues. </span></span></span></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"> </p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">And yet, even as its leaders and followers blunder through this fetid swamp of their own making, the Religious Right continues to judge the rest of us, condemn us and arrogantly sneer at anyone whose morals they decide are somehow deficient.  </span></span></span></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"> </p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">They do this because the raw pursuit of power is what they are all about. They may get it temporarily, but at what cost? As a sage once observed, “For what shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world and suffer the loss of his soul?” </span></span></span></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"> </p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"><em><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">(Photo credit: Matt A.J. via Creative Commons)</span></span></span></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/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/brett-kavanaugh" hreflang="en">Brett Kavanaugh</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/president-donald-trump" hreflang="en">President Donald Trump</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/ralph-reed" hreflang="en">ralph reed</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/franklin-graham" hreflang="en">Franklin Graham</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/pat-robertson" hreflang="en">Pat Robertson</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/robert-jeffress" hreflang="en">Robert Jeffress</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/faith-and-freedom-coalition" hreflang="en">Faith and Freedom Coalition</a></div> </div> </div> Fri, 21 Sep 2018 14:19:36 +0000 boston 14701 at https://www.au.org Values Voter Summit 2018: The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/values-voter-summit-2018-the-more-things-change-the-more-they-stay-the <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Values Voter Summit 2018: The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same </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, 09/21/2018 - 08:29</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/Crowd%20Cheering%20cropped_1.jpg?itok=cae7fRzc" width="1700" height="525" alt="VVS crowd" title="VVS crowd " typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p style="margin:0in 0in 8pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt"><span style="line-height:107%">Today marks the start of the 2018 <span class="MsoHyperlink" style="color:#0563c1"><span style="text-decoration:underline"><a href="http://www.valuesvotersummit.org/home" style="color:#0563c1; text-decoration:underline">Values Voter Summit (VVS)</a></span></span>, an annual gathering of the Religious Right. Sponsored by the anti-LGBTQ, anti-reproductive rights, anti-religious diversity Family Research Council (FRC) in Washington, D.C., the event aims to mobilize white evangelical Christians just before the November general election.</span></span></span></span></span></p> <p style="margin:0in 0in 8pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt"><span style="line-height:107%">I’ll be at VVS today and tomorrow, reporting on the church-state separation issues that come up. I attended the summit for the first time last year, and as I was refreshing my memory on <span class="MsoHyperlink" style="color:#0563c1"><span style="text-decoration:underline"><a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/what-i-saw-at-the-revolution-a-report-from-values-voter-summit-2017" style="color:#0563c1; text-decoration:underline">what I wrote about it then</a></span></span>, it struck me how much has changed and, at the same time, how much has stayed the same.</span></span></span></span></span></p> <p style="margin:0in 0in 8pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><i><span style="font-size:14.0pt"><span style="line-height:107%">Changed</span></span></i><span style="font-size:14.0pt"><span style="line-height:107%">: President Donald Trump is not scheduled to speak at VVS this year, which is a surprise considering his habit of pandering to evangelicals and their habit of fawning over him. After all, this is an event frequented by members of his <span class="MsoHyperlink" style="color:#0563c1"><span style="text-decoration:underline"><a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/au-tells-trump-administration-shut-down-evangelical-advisory-board-until" style="color:#0563c1; text-decoration:underline">Evangelical Advisory Board</a></span></span>, whom he just hosted at the White House last month.</span></span></span></span></span></p> <p style="margin:0in 0in 8pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt"><span style="line-height:107%">Last year Trump touted the fact that he was the first sitting president to speak at VVS and <span class="MsoHyperlink" style="color:#0563c1"><span style="text-decoration:underline"><a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/november-2017-church-state/featured/hero-worship" style="color:#0563c1; text-decoration:underline">erroneously declared</a></span></span> he’d gutted the Johnson Amendment, curtailed women’s access to birth control and won the War on Christmas. Needless to say, I won’t miss hearing his false, vainglorious remarks. Instead, I’ll be treated to a speech from Vice President Mike Pence on Saturday, who is a frequent speaker at VVS and frequent foe of church-state separation.</span></span></span></span></span></p> <p style="margin:0in 0in 8pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><i><span style="font-size:14.0pt"><span style="line-height:107%">Same</span></span></i><span style="font-size:14.0pt"><span style="line-height:107%">: Scheduled to speak are representatives of Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a Religious Right legal group, and others that advocate for laws and policies that would allow religion to be used to discriminate. In addition to an ADF attorney, the owner of <span class="MsoHyperlink" style="color:#0563c1"><span style="text-decoration:underline"><a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/the-supreme-courts-masterpiece-cakeshop-ruling-what-really-happened" style="color:#0563c1; text-decoration:underline">Masterpiece Cakeshop</a></span></span> – the Colorado bakery that refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple – is on today’s agenda. Last year ADF was at VVS promoting a wedding video business from Minnesota that also wanted to turn away LGBTQ couples in the name of religion. </span></span></span></span></span></p> <p style="margin:0in 0in 8pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><i><span style="font-size:14.0pt"><span style="line-height:107%">Changed</span></span></i><span style="font-size:14.0pt"><span style="line-height:107%">: One of the things that really struck with me last year was that attendees, whom I thought would be celebrating the presence of Trump in the White House, instead were voicing anger at the Republican establishment. Steve Bannon, who had just left an advisory position in Trump’s White House, railed against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other so-called “RINOs” – Republicans in Name Only. Bannon also hyped Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, the former “Ten Commandments Judge” who also spoke at VVS. Moore and Bannon were anticipating victory in last December’s special election, unaware that multiple women would soon be coming forward <span class="MsoHyperlink" style="color:#0563c1"><span style="text-decoration:underline"><a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/woman-says-roy-moore-initiated-sexual-encounter-when-she-was-14-he-was-32/2017/11/09/1f495878-c293-11e7-afe9-4f60b5a6c4a0_story.html?utm_term=.25ce56ec0167" style="color:#0563c1; text-decoration:underline">to accuse Moore of inappropriate sexual contact</a></span></span> when they were teenagers and he was an adult.</span></span></span></span></span></p> <p style="margin:0in 0in 8pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt"><span style="line-height:107%">My, how things can change from year to year. Moore, a frequent attendee at VVS, is not on the agenda, nor is Bannon. Conversely, McConnell – the senator at whom a lot of ire was directed last year – is scheduled to speak this morning. Chances are good that he’ll take the opportunity to hype <span class="MsoHyperlink" style="color:#0563c1"><span style="text-decoration:underline"><a href="https://www.au.org/tags/brett-kavanaugh" style="color:#0563c1; text-decoration:underline">Brett Kavanaugh</a></span></span>, Trump’s Supreme Court nominee whom McConnell is trying to fast-track through the confirmation process even as Kavanaugh faces a sexual assault allegation. Probably to the dismay of McConnell, Trump and other Republicans supporting Kavanaugh, <span class="MsoHyperlink" style="color:#0563c1"><span style="text-decoration:underline"><a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2018/09/20/brett-kavanaugh-wins-roy-moore-endorsement-not-that-he-asked-it/?utm_term=.722dfa52e46f" style="color:#0563c1; text-decoration:underline">Moore himself has publicly drawn comparisons</a></span></span> between his and Kavanaugh’s similar circumstances.</span></span></span></span></span></p> <p style="margin:0in 0in 8pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><i><span style="font-size:14.0pt"><span style="line-height:107%">Same</span></span></i><span style="font-size:14.0pt"><span style="line-height:107%">: Given the number of speakers on the agenda who want to weaponize religious freedom to block LGBTQ equality, obstruct women’s reproductive rights and promote the myth that America is a Christian (and especially a non-Muslim) nation, the tone of this year’s VVS won’t be much different from last year’s, or all that came before that. It will be a long two days of listening to speeches from people who aren’t looking for religious freedom, but rather for religious privilege.</span></span></span></span></span></p> <p style="margin:0in 0in 8pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt"><span style="line-height:107%">But if nothing else, VVS should serve as motivation for me and everyone else who believes in church-state separation. As long as there is a VVS and people who want to undermine religious freedom, there will be an Americans United for Separation of Church and State and likeminded supporters who are determined to protect it.</span></span></span></span></span></p> <p style="margin:0in 0in 8pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt"><span style="line-height:107%">I’ll be tweeting from Americans United’s <span class="MsoHyperlink" style="color:#0563c1"><span style="text-decoration:underline"><a href="https://twitter.com/americansunited" style="color:#0563c1; text-decoration:underline">Twitter</a></span></span> account throughout the VVS – please follow along and keep me company while I listen to the Religious Right’s propaganda!</span></span></span></span></span></p> <p style="margin:0in 0in 8pt"> </p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Tags</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/religious-right-0" hreflang="en">Religious Right</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/values-voter-summit" hreflang="en">Values Voter Summit</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/family-research-council" hreflang="en">Family Research Council</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/president-donald-trump" hreflang="en">President Donald Trump</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/roy-moore" hreflang="en">Roy Moore</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/mitch-mcconnell" hreflang="en">Mitch McConnell</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/steve-bannon" hreflang="en">Steve Bannon</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/gay-rights" hreflang="en">Gay Rights</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/brett-kavanaugh" hreflang="en">Brett Kavanaugh</a></div> </div> </div> Fri, 21 Sep 2018 12:29:02 +0000 boston 14700 at https://www.au.org A Creationist Was Asked To Review Arizona’s Science Standards. What Could Possibly Go Wrong? https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/a-creationist-was-asked-to-review-arizonas-science-standards-what-could <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">A Creationist Was Asked To Review Arizona’s Science Standards. What Could Possibly Go Wrong?</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, 09/20/2018 - 10:45</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/school%20kids%20biology%20class%20cropped%209.20.18.jpg?itok=ClWAQtsV" width="1700" height="525" alt="bio class" title="bio class" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">Joseph Kezele believes that the Earth is 6,000 years old, that baby dinosaurs traveled on Noah’s Ark and that all animals that live on land, including humans, were created by God during a single day. (Saturday, in case you’re wondering.)</span></span></span></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"> </p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">These are the standard beliefs of young-Earth creationists, and if Kezele wanted to preach about them at his church or teach them at Arizona Christian University, where he is a biology instructor, most people would just shrug. </span></span></span></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"> </p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">The problem is, Kezele has been serving on a statewide board that was tasked with reviewing science standards for Arizona’s public schools. <i>Phoenix New Times</i> <span class="MsoHyperlink" style="color:#0563c1"><span style="text-decoration:underline"><a href="https://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/news/creationist-helped-review-arizona-evolution-curriculum-10820376" style="color:#0563c1; text-decoration:underline">reported this week</a></span></span> that Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas asked Kezele to sit on an eight-member working group that examined the state’s evolution standards.</span></span></span></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"> </p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">There Kezele did damage. He pressed for changing language describing evolution as “the explanation” for the diversity of life on our planet to “an explanation.” It may seem like a subtle change, but it’s an important one. Kezele, like other creationists, wants to put doubts in students’ minds that evolution is true (even though the overwhelming majority of scientists say it is) and create the impression that there might be another idea out there worth considering.</span></span></span></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"> </p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">That alleged alternative, of course, would be “creation science,” “creationism,” “the theory of abrupt appearance,” “intelligent design” or whatever the anti-evolution fundamentalists are calling it this month.</span></span></span></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"> </p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">Kezele insists he doesn’t want creationism in public school classrooms. He told <i>New Times</i> he merely wants students to consider what “actually is consistent with the real scientific evidence that we have. And then the students can do some thinking and see which one holds up. In general, that’s what education should be, not just indoctrination.”</span></span></span></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"> </p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">There’s good reason to be skeptical of Kezele’s claim. For starters, creationists have been trying to water down evolution in public schools at least since the <span class="MsoHyperlink" style="color:#0563c1"><span style="text-decoration:underline"><a href="https://www.npr.org/2005/07/05/4723956/timeline-remembering-the-scopes-monkey-trial" style="color:#0563c1; text-decoration:underline">Scopes trial</a></span></span>. And they only pretend to be champions of critical thinking. Their plan is to offer students a choice between accepted, verifiable science and an explicitly religious account based on a narrow, fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible that even plenty of Christians reject. Public schools can’t offer a choice like that.   </span></span></span></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"> </p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">The problems in Arizona apparently spring from Douglas, who has publicly stated that she believes creationism should be taught alongside evolution in Arizona’s public schools. Earlier this year, she advocated for removing references to evolution from the science standards.</span></span></span></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"> </p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">Douglas’ position is an elected one, and last month she lost the Republican primary election. Early next year, Arizona will have a new superintendent. Another wild card is the governor’s race. Incumbent Doug Ducey, a Republican who says he supports keeping evolution in the standards, is locked in a tight race with Democrat David Garcia, a former educator.</span></span></span></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"> </p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">Once the political dust settles, there will be some new faces in power. No matter who those people are, they should consider hitting the pause button on this process – and this time seek advice from actual scientists.</span></span></span></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"> </p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"> </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/creationism" hreflang="en">Creationism</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/intelligent-design" hreflang="en">Intelligent Design</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/religion-public-schools" hreflang="en">Religion in Public Schools</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/arizona" hreflang="en">Arizona</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/scopes-trial" hreflang="en">Scopes Trial</a></div> </div> </div> Thu, 20 Sep 2018 14:45:56 +0000 boston 14699 at https://www.au.org Instead Of Banning Books, Let’s Ban Censorship https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/instead-of-banning-books-lets-ban-censorship <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Instead Of Banning Books, Let’s Ban Censorship </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">Wed, 09/19/2018 - 09:57</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/child%20reading%20book%20cropped%2C%209.19.18_0.jpg?itok=tUXq2439" width="1700" height="525" alt="child reading " title="child reading " typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">Sunday marks the start of <span class="MsoHyperlink" style="color:#0563c1"><span style="text-decoration:underline"><a href="https://bannedbooksweek.org/" style="color:#0563c1; text-decoration:underline">Banned Books Week</a></span></span>, an annual event sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) to celebrate the right to learn by highlighting books that have, over the years, fallen prey to censors.</span></span></span></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"> </p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">In Rumford, Maine, the staff of the public library decided to get a head start on things by erecting a display of banned books. But, in a development that surely caused the irony meter to explode, three conservative ministers in town <span class="MsoHyperlink" style="color:#0563c1"><span style="text-decoration:underline"><a href="http://www.sunjournal.com/rumford-public-librarys-display-of-banned-books-will-stay/" style="color:#0563c1; text-decoration:underline">demanded that the banned books display be banned</a></span></span> because some of the banned books it features they believe should, in fact, be banned.</span></span></span></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"> </p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">Did you get that? </span></span></span></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"> </p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">Faced with public blowback, the religious leaders are now insisting that they don’t want any books to be banned – they just want them to be removed from public display at the library. They’re playing the “please-think-of-the-children” card, arguing that because some of the books deal with LGBTQ issues, this somehow makes them inappropriate for children to even see.</span></span></span></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"> </p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">To its credit, the library’s Board of Trustees, after hearing several points of view during a public meeting, voted unanimously to keep the display.  </span></span></span></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"> </p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">I’ve <span class="MsoHyperlink" style="color:#0563c1"><span style="text-decoration:underline"><a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/challenging-censorship-banned-books-week-is-a-time-to-stand-up-for-the" style="color:#0563c1; text-decoration:underline">written previously</a></span></span> about how common religiously based censorship of books, magazines, plays and other material used to be in the United States. Every time I write about this issue, some people act as if it’s no big deal anymore because you can get the books you want online or through bookstores. </span></span></span></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"> </p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">That misses the point. Bookstores haven’t been the censors’ target for a long time. These days, it’s public libraries and public schools that feel the heat. The ALA reported 416 censorship attempts in 2017. Of the top 10 books most frequently targeted, half of them deal with LGBTQ themes. (One of them is an award-winning children’s book titled <i>And Tango Makes Three</i> that the Religious Right has been <span class="MsoHyperlink" style="color:#0563c1"><span style="text-decoration:underline"><a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/terrifying-tango-religious-right-horrified-by-march-of-the-gay-penguins" style="color:#0563c1; text-decoration:underline">going after for years</a></span></span>.) </span></span></span></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"> </p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">Many Religious Right leaders are old hands at the censorship game. Pastor Robert Jeffress, one of the most prominent members of President Donald Trump’s <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/au-tells-trump-administration-shut-down-evangelical-advisory-board-until" style="color:#0563c1; text-decoration:underline">Evangelical Advisory Board</a>, first made national headlines in 1998 over a censorship flap. Jeffress was pastoring a Baptist church in Wichita Falls, Texas, at the time, and a member brought him copies of <i>Heather Has Two Mommies</i> and <i>Daddy's Roommate</i>, two LGBTQ-themed children’s books that the parishioner had checked out of the library.</span></span></span></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"> </p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">Jeffress <span class="MsoHyperlink" style="color:#0563c1"><span style="text-decoration:underline"><a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/february-1999-church-state/people-events/february-1999-people-events" style="color:#0563c1; text-decoration:underline">confiscated the books</a></span></span> and refused to return them, eventually paying a $54 fine. A member of his church later proposed an elaborate system of censorship whereby if 100 library card-holding residents requested that a book be placed on restricted access, it would off limits to anyone under 13. City residents spoke out against the plan, and the library board rejected it. </span></span></span></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"> </p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">The bottom line is that there are plenty of Religious Right zealots out there who would like to control what our children can read and, by extension, what they can learn. Opposing censorship efforts is the most important thing you can do to stop them, but there’s another, more entertaining activity you should not overlook: Set a good example for youngsters by <span class="MsoHyperlink" style="color:#0563c1"><span style="text-decoration:underline"><a href="http://www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks/frequentlychallengedbooks" style="color:#0563c1; text-decoration:underline">reading a banned book yourself</a></span></span>.</span></span></span></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> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Tags</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/censorship" hreflang="en">censorship</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/public-libraries" hreflang="en">public libraries</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/robert-jeffress" hreflang="en">Robert Jeffress</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/maine" hreflang="en">Maine</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/banned-books-week" hreflang="en">Banned Books Week</a></div> </div> </div> Wed, 19 Sep 2018 13:57:22 +0000 boston 14697 at https://www.au.org Church-State Separation A Common Thread At Religion News Association Conference https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/church-state-separation-a-common-thread-at-religion-news-association <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Church-State Separation A Common Thread At Religion News Association Conference</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, 09/18/2018 - 12:11</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/RNA%20Conference%20cropped_1.jpg?itok=XD8zeMmd" width="1700" height="525" alt="RNA Conference" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p style="margin:0in 0in 8pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:Calibri,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt"><span style="line-height:107%">Religion writers and communications professionals – including yours truly – descended on Columbus, Ohio, last week for the <span class="MsoHyperlink" style="color:#0563c1"><span style="text-decoration:underline"><a href="https://www.rna.org/page/RNA2018" style="color:#0563c1; text-decoration:underline">annual conference of the Religion News Association (RNA)</a></span></span>. From beginning to end, many of the discussions centered around religious freedom and church-state separation.</span></span></span></span></span></p> <p style="margin:0in 0in 8pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:Calibri,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt"><span style="line-height:107%">Before RNA announced its annual writing awards during the Saturday night banquet that closes out the conference, two Ohio women took the stage to share their compelling story of how discrimination – often in the name of religion – has harmed them and countless LGBTQ people around the country.</span></span></span></span></span></p> <p style="margin:0in 0in 8pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:Calibri,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt"><span style="line-height:107%">Jimmie and Mindy Beall have the dubious honor of being among the first couples featured in the <span class="MsoHyperlink" style="color:#0563c1"><span style="text-decoration:underline"><a href="https://beyondido.org/" style="color:#0563c1; text-decoration:underline">Beyond I Do</a></span></span> project that was launched earlier this year. Sponsored by the Gill Foundation and the Ad Council, Beyond I Do tells the stories of people who have been harmed by their states’ lack of nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people.</span></span></span></span></span></p> <p style="margin:0in 0in 8pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:Calibri,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt"><span style="line-height:107%">Jimmie Beall spoke of how, years earlier, <span class="MsoHyperlink" style="color:#0563c1"><span style="text-decoration:underline"><a href="https://beyondido.org/states/ohio/" style="color:#0563c1; text-decoration:underline">she’d been let go from her job</a></span></span> as a longtime public school teacher because the district learned she was a lesbian. “I didn’t know they could do that. I was a government teacher – I didn’t think that was legal.” She went to an attorney, who explained that Ohio doesn’t have laws protecting LGBTQ people from being fired due to their sexual orientation. The lawyer told her, “You don’t have the same rights as everyone else.”</span></span></span></span></span></p> <p style="margin:0in 0in 8pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:Calibri,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt"><span style="line-height:107%">Jimmie got a new job, which led to her meeting Mindy, whom she married on Valentine’s Day 2016. And she got a new purpose – standing up for LGBTQ rights. She said she began to live out the message on a poster she kept in her classroom: “Stand for what you know is right, even if you’re standing alone.”</span></span></span></span></span></p> <p style="margin:0in 0in 8pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:Calibri,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt"><span style="line-height:107%">Jimmie isn’t standing alone: As Gill Foundation program officer Brian Rossbert explained at the conference, a coalition of organizations around the country are working to increase protections for LGBTQ people and fight legislative proposals that would allow religion to be used to justify discrimination. Americans United, through our <span class="MsoHyperlink" style="color:#0563c1"><span style="text-decoration:underline"><a href="http://www.protectthyneighbor.org/" style="color:#0563c1; text-decoration:underline">Protect Thy Neighbor</a></span></span> project, is proud to be part of the effort to ensure religious freedom is a shield that protects people, not a sword used to harm others.</span></span></span></span></span></p> <p style="margin:0in 0in 8pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:Calibri,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt"><span style="line-height:107%">Earlier Saturday, a panel of legal experts spoke about “Trump and the Judiciary” – highlighting the ways that President Donald Trump is affecting the courts, not just through the <span class="MsoHyperlink" style="color:#0563c1"><span style="text-decoration:underline"><a href="https://www.au.org/tags/brett-kavanaugh" style="color:#0563c1; text-decoration:underline">nomination of Brett Kavanaugh</a></span></span> (who has shown hostility toward church-state separation) to the Supreme Court, but also through appointments to all federal benches. Howard Friedman, a law professor and editor of the <a href="http://religionclause.blogspot.com/" style="color:#0563c1; text-decoration:underline">Religion Clause blog</a>, joked that stacking the courts with conservative judges is “the only part of the Trump Administration operating smoothly.” (Friedman’s remarks came before Sunday’s <span class="MsoHyperlink" style="color:#0563c1"><span style="text-decoration:underline"><a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/california-professor-writer-of-confidential-brett-kavanaugh-letter-speaks-out-about-her-allegation-of-sexual-assault/2018/09/16/46982194-b846-11e8-94eb-3bd52dfe917b_story.html?utm_term=.787d31977a1d" style="color:#0563c1; text-decoration:underline">story in <i>The Washington Post</i></a></span></span> about the California professor who has come forward to accuse Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were in high school.)</span></span></span></span></span></p> <p style="margin:0in 0in 8pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:Calibri,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt"><span style="line-height:107%">Friedman and the other panelists – Susan Becker from the ACLU in Ohio and Robert Alt, CEO of a libertarian-oriented group called the Buckeye Institute – also spoke about the evolution of how religious freedom is treated by the federal courts.</span></span></span></span></span></p> <p style="margin:0in 0in 8pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:Calibri,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt"><span style="line-height:107%">“Religious liberty has become the battleground on which the culture wars are being fought,” Friedman said, noting that views that began as cultural objections are being transformed into religious objections in an attempt to gain wider acceptance.</span></span></span></span></span></p> <p style="margin:0in 0in 8pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:Calibri,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt"><span style="line-height:107%">Alt noted how a change in the Supreme Court’s “swing” justice changed how the court ruled on church-state separation cases. Alt said Justice Sandra Day O’Connor framed such cases as whether they presented government favoritism toward a religion, whereas Justice Anthony Kennedy was more concerned with whether religious coercion was involved. Alt’s comments underscore the concerns of AU and others about what’s at stake with Kennedy’s departure from the court and how a Trump appointee could change the balance of power for a generation.</span></span></span></span></span></p> <p style="margin:0in 0in 8pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:Calibri,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt"><span style="line-height:107%">The RNA conference also kicked off with a discussion on church-state separation work, including mention of several cases in which AU has been involved. Of particular note were two cases involving government displaying Christian crosses – in a <span class="MsoHyperlink" style="color:#0563c1"><span style="text-decoration:underline"><a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/federal-appeals-court-considers-constitutionality-of-pensacola-cross" style="color:#0563c1; text-decoration:underline">park in Florida</a></span></span> and on a <span class="MsoHyperlink" style="color:#0563c1"><span style="text-decoration:underline"><a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/a-legal-fight-in-a-pa-county-is-about-more-than-a-cross-on-a-seal" style="color:#0563c1; text-decoration:underline">county seal in Pennsylvania</a></span></span> – in which federal judges ruled that these practices were unconstitutional, but expresses regret and indicated they thought higher courts should reinterpret the Constitution on these issues.</span></span></span></span></span></p> <p style="margin:0in 0in 8pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:Calibri,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt"><span style="line-height:107%">Issues such as the Trump administration’s Muslim ban and the Supreme Court’s ruling in the <span class="MsoHyperlink" style="color:#0563c1"><span style="text-decoration:underline"><i><a href="http://www.protectthyneighbor.org/masterpiece/?rq=masterpiece%20cakeshop" style="color:#0563c1; text-decoration:underline">Masterpiece Cakeshop</a></i></span></span> case were also discussed. The ways in which Muslims and other religious minorities, especially Sikhs and Hindus, are treated differently from mainstream religions – namely Christianity – was another frequent theme throughout the conference.</span></span></span></span></span></p> <p style="margin:0in 0in 8pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:107%"><span style="font-family:Calibri,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt"><span style="line-height:107%">We at Americans United know that church-state separation – the linchpin of religious freedom – <span class="MsoHyperlink" style="color:#0563c1"><span style="text-decoration:underline"><a href="https://www.au.org/timeline-of-trump-administration-attacks-on-church-state-separation" style="color:#0563c1; text-decoration:underline">is under attack</a></span></span>. It’s a good sign that the journalists who write about religion and how it intersects with government are aware too.</span></span></span></span></span></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/lgbtq-rights" hreflang="en">LGBTQ 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/employment-discrimination" hreflang="en">Employment Discrimination</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/government-support-of-religion" hreflang="en">Government Support Of Religion</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/ohio" hreflang="en">Ohio</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/brett-kavanaugh" hreflang="en">Brett Kavanaugh</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/supreme-court" hreflang="en">Supreme Court</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/muslim-ban" hreflang="en">Muslim Ban</a></div> </div> </div> Tue, 18 Sep 2018 16:11:22 +0000 LHayes 14696 at https://www.au.org Like Your Freedom To Believe Or Not As You See Fit? Thank The Church-State Wall. https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/like-your-freedom-to-believe-or-not-as-you-see-fit-thank-the-church-state <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Like Your Freedom To Believe Or Not As You See Fit? Thank The Church-State Wall. </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, 09/17/2018 - 09:28</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/first%20amend%20cropped.jpg?itok=5YRNfnRD" width="1700" height="525" alt="first amendment " title="first amendment" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">During his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing, Brett Kavanaugh commiserated with U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) over a 2000 school prayer case that didn’t go the way they would have liked. Kavanagh remarked that a legal loss like that “<a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/kavanaugh-reveals-his-skewed-view-of-church-state-separation" style="color:#0563c1; text-decoration:underline"><span style="color:#0563c1">sticks in my craw</span></a>.”</span></span></span></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"> </p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">You know what sticks in my craw? People like Kavanaugh who think they know more about the First Amendment than the men who conceived and drafted it. </span></span></span></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"> </p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">Today is <a href="https://constitutioncenter.org/constitution-day" style="color:#0563c1; text-decoration:underline"><span style="color:#0563c1">Constitution Day</span></a>, so it’s a good time to remember what the separation of church and state has done for religious freedom in this country. The story is nothing short of remarkable. In the shadow of what colonial-era religious freedom pioneer <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/april-2003-church-state/featured/the-forgotten-founder" style="color:#0563c1; text-decoration:underline"><span style="color:#0563c1">Roger Williams</span></a> referred to as the “hedge or wall of Separation between the Garden of the Church and the Wilderness of the world” and Thomas Jefferson called the “wall of separation between church and state,” religious freedom in America has flourished. </span></span></span></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"> </p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">Want proof? All you need to do is take a minute to think about all of the religions that operate freely in this country.</span></span></span></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"> </p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">Religious Right groups often assert that church-state separation somehow suppresses religion or reduces its influence. American history and contemporary experience prove them wrong. Freed from any official connection to the government, religious groups in America learned to tap voluntary sources (that is, their own members) for support – and they flourished. </span></span></span></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"> </p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">Interesting things began to happen. If people were not happy with the house of worship they were attending, they left and found another one. In the fertile soil of American religious freedom, entirely new movements sprung up and grew – the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Seventh-Day Adventist Church and the Christian Science Church come to mind.</span></span></span></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"> </p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">Non-Christian faiths took firm root as well. Jews had been part of the American experience from the early days, and some of the enslaved people who were brought here in chains were Muslims or animists. In the late 19th century, spiritualist beliefs grew and were organized as churches, and in the modern era, ancient faiths like Wicca and Paganism resurfaced.</span></span></span></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"> </p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">The right to reject religion entirely is also protected by the First Amendment, and thinkers like Robert G. Ingersoll (known as the “Great Agnostic”), Matilda Joslyn Gage, D.M. Bennett</span> <span style="font-size:14.0pt">and others challenged the claims of religion, a trend that continues today with the growth of national atheist/humanist and freethought organizations. </span></span></span></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"> </p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">Far from suppressing faith, separation of church and state, by decoupling the two institutions, gave all Americans the right to decide for themselves what, if anything, they would believe about God (or Gods), how they would worship, where they would worship and when they would worship. The result is a range of vibrant, diverse faith and non-faith communities that provide something for every taste.</span></span></span></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"> </p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">Despite its success, Kavanaugh has a problem with that wall. He’s greatly enamored of the views of the late Supreme Court Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist who in a <a href="https://www.oyez.org/cases/1984/83-812" style="color:#0563c1; text-decoration:underline"><span style="color:#0563c1">dissent to a 1985 school prayer case</span></a> called the wall of separation between church and state “a metaphor based on bad history, a metaphor which has proved useless as a guide to judging.” Rehnquist called for it to be “frankly and explicitly abandoned.” </span></span></span></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"> </p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">Twenty years after Rehnquist penned those words, another Supreme Court justice, Sandra Day O’Connor, made a much more compelling observation in a case dealing with displays of the Ten Commandments by county governments in Kentucky. </span></span></span></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"> </p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">“Those who would renegotiate the boundaries between church and state,” <a href="https://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/03-1693.ZC.html" style="color:#0563c1; text-decoration:underline"><span style="color:#0563c1">O’Connor wrote</span></a>, “must therefore answer a difficult question: why would we trade a system that has served us so well for one that has served others so poorly?”</span></span></span></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"> </p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">It’s a powerful question. On this Constitution Day, it’s one that all opponents of the church-state wall, including Kavanaugh, should be challenged to answer.</span></span></span></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"> </p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">P.S. It’s not too late to let your senators know that you <a href="https://secure.everyaction.com/AA7G4YCHskeBYDviNGk_GQ2" style="color:#0563c1; text-decoration:underline"><span style="color:#0563c1">oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination</span></a> to the Supreme Court. </span></span></span></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/history-and-origins-of-church-state-separation" hreflang="en">History and Origins of Church-State Separation</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/foundations-of-church-state-separation" hreflang="en">Foundations of Church-State Separation</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/thomas-jefferson" hreflang="en">thomas jefferson</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/constitution" hreflang="en">Constitution</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/first-amendment" hreflang="en">First Amendment</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/wall-of-separation-between-church-and-state-0" hreflang="en">wall of separation between church and state</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/wall-of-separation" hreflang="en">Wall of Separation</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/brett-kavanaugh" hreflang="en">Brett Kavanaugh</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/john-cornyn" hreflang="en">John Cornyn</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/church-jesus-christ-latter-day-saints" hreflang="en">Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/seventh-day-adventist" hreflang="en">Seventh-day Adventist</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/robert-ingersoll" hreflang="en">Robert Ingersoll</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/atheism" hreflang="en">Atheism</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/william-rehnquist" hreflang="en">William Rehnquist</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/sandra-day-oconnor" hreflang="en">Sandra Day O&#039;Connor</a></div> </div> </div> Mon, 17 Sep 2018 13:28:05 +0000 boston 14695 at https://www.au.org Sorry, Religious Right, But Missouri Clergy Don’t Support Ditching The Johnson Amendment https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/sorry-religious-right-but-missouri-clergy-dont-support-ditching-the <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Sorry, Religious Right, But Missouri Clergy Don’t Support Ditching The Johnson Amendment</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, 09/14/2018 - 13:12</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/about/people/maggie-garrett" hreflang="und">Maggie Garrett</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/pulpit%20cropped_0.jpg?itok=Qd5ddryz" width="1700" height="525" alt="pulpit" title="pulpit " typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:115%"><span style="font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,sans-serif"><span lang="EN" style="font-size:12.0pt" xml:lang="EN"><span style="line-height:115%">During an Aug. 21 campaign speech, Josh Hawley, a candidate for the U.S. Senate in Missouri, falsely <u><span style="color:#1155cc"><a href="https://apnews.com/f5516711ebde44f4b822487c86dde567" style="color:blue; text-decoration:underline"><span style="color:#1155cc">claimed</span></a></span></u> the Johnson Amendment is unconstitutional and called for its repeal. The Johnson Amendment, which is the provision in the tax code that ensures all non-profit organizations, including houses of worship, cannot endorse political candidates, has <u><span style="color:#1155cc"><a href="https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/461/540/" style="color:blue; text-decoration:underline"><span style="color:#1155cc">already withstood a constitutional challenge</span></a></span></u> in federal court. The law also has strong support from the faith and charitable nonprofit communities and the public as a whole. That's why people in Missouri are loudly rejecting Hawley’s proposal. </span></span></span></span></span></p> <p style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"> </p> <p style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:115%"><span style="font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,sans-serif"><span lang="EN" style="font-size:12.0pt" xml:lang="EN"><span style="line-height:115%">Churchnet, also known as the Baptist General Convention of Missouri,<u><span style="color:#1155cc"><a href="https://www.churchnet.org/news/state-baptist-group-supports-johnson-amendment/" style="color:blue; text-decoration:underline"><span style="color:#1155cc"> came out strongly </span></a></span></u>in favor of the Johnson Amendment almost immediately after Hawley’s comments were made public. Executive Director Brian Ford stated: “As a life-long Baptist and ordained pastor, I can’t imagine how damaging it would be to erase [the Johnson Amendment] for local churches across the nation.” </span></span></span></span></span></p> <p style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"> </p> <p style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:115%"><span style="font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,sans-serif"><span lang="EN" style="font-size:12.0pt" xml:lang="EN"><span style="line-height:115%">And the Rev. Carol McEntyre, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Columbia, Mo., wrote in the <u><span style="color:#1155cc"><a href="https://www.stltoday.com/opinion/columnists/johnson-amendment-is-good-for-churches/article_95e89a75-e5e8-5ed9-bad4-de45b56eb300.html" style="color:blue; text-decoration:underline"><span style="color:#1155cc">St. Louis Dispatch</span></a></span></u> that the Johnson Amendment is “good for churches.” She explained: “The overwhelming majority of the religious and nonprofit community supports the Johnson Amendment so we can remain focused on our mission, not mired in partisan mudslinging.”</span></span></span></span></span></p> <p style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"> </p> <p style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:115%"><span style="font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,sans-serif"><span lang="EN" style="font-size:12.0pt" xml:lang="EN"><span style="line-height:115%">They aren’t the only faith leaders in Missouri who support the Johnson Amendment. In fact, <u><span style="color:#1155cc"><a href="https://static1.squarespace.com/static/590789143e00be8692d38a5c/t/5b9a9798575d1f3c474a9791/1536858009445/2018-9-13+Missouri+Faith+Voices+Letter+FINAL.pdf" style="color:blue; text-decoration:underline"><span style="color:#1155cc">more than 130 Missouri faith leaders</span></a></span></u> joined a letter stating they are “strongly opposed to any effort to repeal or weaken current law that protects houses of worship from becoming centers of partisan politics.” Contrast this with  <u><span style="color:#1155cc"><a href="https://downloads.frc.org/EF/EF18I13.pdf" style="color:blue; text-decoration:underline"><span style="color:#1155cc">the statement from only 92 clergy</span></a></span></u> who support Hawley that was put together this week by the Family Research Council (FRC), a Religious Right group that insists faith leaders want the repeal.</span></span></span></span></span></p> <p style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"> </p> <p style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:115%"><span style="font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,sans-serif"><span lang="EN" style="font-size:12.0pt" xml:lang="EN"><span style="line-height:115%">It’s telling that Hawley and FRC – a politician and a political group <u><span style="color:#1155cc"><a href="http://www.frcactionpac.org/" style="color:blue; text-decoration:underline"><span style="color:#1155cc">with its own PAC</span></a></span></u> – seem to want this more than faith leaders in the state. And it’s no wonder because repealing the law would allow political parties and candidates seeking power to use houses of worship as political campaign tools. </span></span></span></span></span></p> <p style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"> </p> <p style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:115%"><span style="font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,sans-serif"><span lang="EN" style="font-size:12.0pt" xml:lang="EN"><span style="line-height:115%">Other Missouri voices have spoken out in favor of the Johnson Amendment too. The editorial board of the <i>News Tribune</i> in Missouri’s capital city of Jefferson City <a href="http://www.newstribune.com/news/opinion/story/2018/sep/02/our-opinion-keep-faith-in-the-johnson-amendment/741556/" style="color:blue; text-decoration:underline">wrote that</a> “repealing the Johnson Amendment would be bad for politics, bad for churches and bad for America.”  The <u><span style="color:#1155cc"><a href="https://www.stltoday.com/opinion/editorial/editorial-breaching-the-wall-between-church-and-state/article_1264c2ea-40c3-50c8-9370-6acffd8991b5.html" style="color:blue; text-decoration:underline"><span style="color:#1155cc">St. Louis Post-Dispatch</span></a></span></u>’s editorial in support of the law noted: “You don’t need to look far into history, or the present world, to see how mixing faith and politics distorts both.” And a <i>Kansas City Star</i> <a href="https://www.kansascity.com/opinion/editorials/article217804295.html" style="color:blue; text-decoration:underline">editorial countered</a> Hawley’s false claim that the law restricted the speech of pastors: “Pastors can speak on the issues of the day. They can criticize leaders. They just can’t engage in political campaigns and formally endorse or oppose one contender over another.”</span></span></span></span></span></p> <p style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"> </p> <p style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:115%"><span style="font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,sans-serif"><span lang="EN" style="font-size:12.0pt" xml:lang="EN"><span style="line-height:115%">The fate of houses of worship aren’t the only organizations at stake. Repeal of the Johnson Amendment would threaten the integrity and independence of all charitable nonprofits, whether they are secular or religious. <u><span style="color:#1155cc"><a href="https://www.givevoice.org/sites/default/files/letters/mo-blunt-protect-nonprofit-nonpartisanship-UPDATE.pdf" style="color:blue; text-decoration:underline"><span style="color:#1155cc">Nearly 100 Missouri nonprofits </span></a></span></u>signed a letter in favor of protecting the Johnson Amendment, because “nonpartisanship is a cornerstone principle that has strengthened the public’s trust of the charitable community.” </span></span></span></span></span></p> <p style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"> </p> <p style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:115%"><span style="font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,sans-serif"><span lang="EN" style="font-size:12.0pt" xml:lang="EN"><span style="line-height:115%">There are so many reasons to support the Johnson Amendment. Perhaps that is why a recent <u><span style="color:#1155cc"><a href="http://www.apnorc.org/PDFs/AP-NORC%20Omnibus%20August%202018/Omnibus%20August%202018%20topline_final.pdf" style="color:blue; text-decoration:underline"><span style="color:#1155cc">Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll</span></a></span></u> shows only 13 percent of the public supports repealing it.  </span></span></span></span></span></p> <p style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"> </p> <p style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:115%"><span style="font-family:&quot;Arial&quot;,sans-serif"><span lang="EN" style="font-size:12.0pt" xml:lang="EN"><span style="line-height:115%">You can help protect the Johnson Amendment too. If you are a faith leader, you can join the <a href="https://www.faith-voices.org/">Faith Voices letter</a>. You can also <a href="https://secure.everyaction.com/KqKvxCgNv0OkyEsY6P5ecw2" style="color:blue; text-decoration:underline">write to your member of Congress</a> now to tell them you support this federal law. </span></span></span></span></span></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/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/johnson-amendment" hreflang="en">Johnson Amendment</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/missouri" hreflang="en">Missouri</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/family-research-council" hreflang="en">Family Research Council</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/churches-and-politics" hreflang="en">Churches and Politics</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/josh-hawley" hreflang="en">Josh Hawley</a></div> </div> </div> Fri, 14 Sep 2018 17:12:05 +0000 boston 14694 at https://www.au.org Public Education And The Public Good: A Back-To-School Reflection https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/public-education-and-the-public-good-a-back-to-school-reflection <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Public Education And The Public Good: A Back-To-School Reflection</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, 09/14/2018 - 09:04</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/schoolkids%20with%20bus%20cropped.jpg?itok=Cvs5rF_k" width="1700" height="525" alt="school bus" title="school bus " typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p style="margin-bottom:.0001pt; margin:0in 0in 8pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:normal"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><i><span style="font-size:14.0pt">Editor’s Note: This week, Americans United is marking the return of the school year with a special series of education-themed blog posts. Today we conclude with a reminder of the important role public education plays in the lives of all Americans.  </span></i></span></span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:.0001pt; margin:0in 0in 8pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:normal"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">As our special series of education-themed blog posts comes to a close, it’s a good time to take a step back and look at the big picture – why we as a nation must continue to value, support and defend secular public education.  </span></span></span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:.0001pt; margin:0in 0in 8pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:normal"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">Forces exist in this country that would either like to privatize our schools or “Christianize” them (along the lines of a narrow definition of that faith, of course). Both are misguided and must be resisted, and separation of church and state can be a powerful tool to stop them.</span></span></span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:.0001pt; margin:0in 0in 8pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:normal"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">And stop them we must. Remember, our public schools do more than simply perform the critical role of secular education for all; they also encapsulate the idea of the “public good” – tax-funded institutions that strive to lift up everyone and, in turn, provide important benefits to every American. </span></span></span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:.0001pt; margin:0in 0in 8pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:normal"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">In a country where tales of rugged individualism form a large part of our national mythology, it can be difficult to get some people to grasp why the public good is important. One reason is that we all rely on that concept, whether we choose to acknowledge it or not. </span></span></span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:.0001pt; margin:0in 0in 8pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:normal"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">In the arena of public education, a simple statistic is telling: 90 percent of American children attend public schools. When they emerge as adults, they will work the jobs that propel our economy. They will run our government. They will determine the direction of our culture. They will make decisions on crucial issues such as health care, the environment, international relations, tax policy and a host of others. </span></span></span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:.0001pt; margin:0in 0in 8pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:normal"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">It’s in everyone’s interest that the next generation is prepared to do these things, and only the public school system is uniquely suited to give that 90 percent the tools to do it.  </span></span></span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:.0001pt; margin:0in 0in 8pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:normal"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">That’s why no one should make the mistake of believing that they don’t benefit from public education – even if they have no children or send their kids elsewhere. It’s like arguing that people who buy books from Amazon or don’t read books get no benefit from a public library. </span></span></span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:.0001pt; margin:0in 0in 8pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:normal"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">We all have a stake in public education and the educated citizenry it gives us. When it succeeds, our nation succeeds. That’s one reason why it’s counterproductive to siphon scarce public support away from the system or allow our schools to become riven with sectarian disputes.</span></span></span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:.0001pt; margin:0in 0in 8pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:normal"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">Yet we know that not everyone agrees with this. Powerful think tanks in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere argue for privatization of public education in whole or in part, and Religious Right groups relentlessly hound the schools for being “godless. Sadly, both camps have friends in the White House. </span></span></span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:.0001pt; margin:0in 0in 8pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:normal"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">What they forget (or refuse to see) is that in America, we forged the right path. Our public schools, taxpayer-funded and accountable to the people through democratically elected boards, welcome, embrace and educate <i>all</i> children, regardless of how, where, when or if they worship. We crafted a system of public schools that, by law, must focus on teaching, not preaching. </span></span></span></span></p> <p style="margin-bottom:.0001pt; margin:0in 0in 8pt"><span style="font-size:11pt"><span style="line-height:normal"><span style="font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">That’s quite an accomplishment. We should be proud of it. We should celebrate it. Most importantly, we should stand ready to defend it against those who, in the name of ideology, would tear it down. One great way to do that is to <a href="https://www.au.org/become-a-member"><span style="color:blue">join Americans United</span></a> and support our work. </span></span></span></span></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin:0in 0in 0.0001pt"> </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> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Tags</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/government-aid-religion" hreflang="en">Government aid to religion</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/prayer-public-schools" hreflang="en">prayer in public schools</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/tax-aid-religion" hreflang="en">tax aid to religion</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/education" hreflang="en">Education</a></div> </div> </div> Fri, 14 Sep 2018 13:04:12 +0000 boston 14692 at https://www.au.org