The Wall of Separation Blog https://www.au.org/ en Faith Groups Oppose Dangerous COVID Exemption Bills https://www.au.org/blogs/faith-leaders-COVID-statement <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Faith Groups Oppose Dangerous COVID Exemption Bills</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 Apr 12, 2021 - 11:30</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/woman%20prays%20in%20empty%20church.jpg?h=119335f7&amp;itok=dhhJxjpu" width="1700" height="525" alt="woman in church" title="worshipper in church" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>A broad coalition of 27 faith groups has released <a href="https://www.au.org/sites/default/files/2021-04/Faith%20Organizations%27%20Statement%20On%20Religious%20Exemptions%20to%20Emergency%20Orders%204.12.21.pdf">an important statement</a> today making it clear that while religious freedom is a cherished right, it shouldn’t become an excuse to endanger public health.</p> <p>The statement responds to a spate of bills in state legislatures that would make it more difficult for state and local governments to apply public health orders to houses of worship. Many of the bills create broad exemptions for houses of worship from any emergency orders. It’s one of the more troubling reactions to the coronavirus pandemic.</p> <p>When the pandemic erupted more than a year ago, governments took reasonable, commonsense steps to curb large gatherings to stop the spread. These measures, which were always intended to be temporary until we were able to overcome the virus, applied to religious and secular groups alike. The goal was to keep everyone safe and healthy.</p> <p>The vast majority of religious leaders accepted these regulations and either halted in-person services or moved them online. But some misguided clerics resisted, insisting that they should have the right to hold large, public gatherings even in the face of a global health crisis. Legislation has emerged in several states that supports this reckless view.</p> <p>In their statement, the faith organizations – representing Christian, Jewish, Muslim and other communities –make it clear that these measures are the wrong response.</p> <p>“Religious freedom is a fundamental American value, and the freedom to worship in accordance with one’s spiritual practices and traditions is a right of the highest order,” <a href="https://www.au.org/sites/default/files/2021-04/Faith%20Organizations%27%20Statement%20On%20Religious%20Exemptions%20to%20Emergency%20Orders%204.12.21.pdf">asserts the statement</a>. “At the same time, religious freedom does not demand tying the hands of public officials who are trying to safeguard public health as they respond to unforeseen events like pandemics, natural disasters and other emergencies. Indeed, all of our denominations have found creative ways to provide opportunities for worship during the pandemic, recognizing the spiritual sustenance and sense of community that religious practices provide.”</p> <p>The statement goes on to say, “Times of public crisis demand that all community leaders – religious, secular, and governmental – work together to find solutions. By giving religious gatherings a pre-emptive exemption from future emergency orders, we fear that these bills will unintentionally paint religious communities as part of the problem, not the solution, and thereby undercut our ability to partner with community leaders to defeat the crisis.”</p> <p>Concludes the statement, “These bills, which claim to protect houses of worship, do not make religious gatherings safer – to be sure, the pandemic acknowledges no religious exemption.”</p> <p><a href="https://www.au.org/sites/default/files/2021-04/Faith%20Organizations%27%20Statement%20On%20Religious%20Exemptions%20to%20Emergency%20Orders%204.12.21.pdf">The statement</a> is a vital reminder that most members of America’s religious communities recognize the need for sacrifice in the face of an unprecedented public health crisis. Legislators in the states should heed these voices, not those of religious extremists who selfishly place their own desires above the health and safety of the communities they claim to serve.</p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issues field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Issues</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/religious-freedom" hreflang="en">Religious Freedom</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Tags</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/protecting-religious-freedom-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic" hreflang="en">Protecting Religious Freedom During the Coronavirus Pandemic</a></div> </div> </div> Mon, 12 Apr 2021 15:30:43 +0000 boston 16752 at https://www.au.org Arkansas Legislators Are Determined To Push Creationism – Again https://www.au.org/blogs/Arkansas-creationism-bill <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Arkansas Legislators Are Determined To Push Creationism – Again</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 Apr 08, 2021 - 09:24</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/geology-class.jpg?h=1080d2db&amp;itok=0F4pmusb" width="1700" height="525" alt="Kids in Class" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>It’s safe to say that when it comes to the issue of anti-evolutionism in public schools, Arkansas doesn’t have a very good track record.</p> <p>In 1928, the people of Arkansas by ballot initiative enacted a law making it illegal for any public school teacher in the state to “teach the theory or doctrine that mankind ascended or descended from a lower order of animals.” Teachers who broke the law could be fined $500, a hefty sum in those days.</p> <p>A brave science teacher named Susan Epperson<a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/november-2018-church-state/featured/she-stood-for-science-fifty-years-later-a-defense"> </a><a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/november-2018-church-state/featured/she-stood-for-science-fifty-years-later-a-defense">challenged the law</a> in 1965, and a few years later, the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated it in 1968’s <em><a href="https://www.oyez.org/cases/1968/7">Epperson v. Arkansas</a> </em>ruling.</p> <p>That’s strike one.</p> <p>In 1981, Arkansas legislators passed a state law called the “Balanced Treatment for Creation-Science and Evolution-Science Act (Act 590),” which mandated the teaching of “creation science” alongside evolution in the state’s public schools. The following year, a federal court struck down the law in the case <a href="https://law.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/FSupp/529/1255/2354824/"><em>McLean v. Arkansas</em></a>.</p> <p>That’s strike two.</p> <p>Is Arkansas determined to go for strike three? It looks that way. The Education Committee of the Arkansas House of Representatives recently voted to advance a bill that would allow teachers to promote creationism in science classes, and yesterday the full House <a href="https://katv.com/news/local/creationism-bill-passed-in-house-headed-to-senate">passed the measure</a> 72-21.</p> <p>Most legislative attacks on teaching evolution these days are masked in talk about “teaching the controversy” or references to “intelligent design” (ID). The sponsor of the Arkansas bill, state Rep. Mary Bentley (R-Perryville), didn’t even bother with those tactics. Her measure, House Bill 1701, is straight-up creationism: It states that if a public school is teaching evolution, it can add creationism.</p> <p>During the House debate, Bentley was short on facts. She asserted that scientists have been debating evolution vs. creationism for “thousands of years.” Actually, evolution is <a href="https://www.pewresearch.org/politics/2009/07/09/section-5-evolution-climate-change-and-other-issues/">overwhelmingly accepted</a> in the scientific community. And Charles Darwin didn’t publish his theory until 1859, so thousands of years of debate isn’t possible. </p> <p>Under current Supreme Court precedent, the type of “balanced treatment” law Bentley is proposing is unconstitutional. Louisiana legislators in 1981 passed the “Balanced Treatment for Creation-Science and Evolution-Science Act,” which mandated the teaching of creationism in public schools whenever evolution was taught. The Supreme Court struck the law down as a violation of church-state separation in 1987’s<a href="https://www.oyez.org/cases/1986/85-1513"> </a><a href="https://www.oyez.org/cases/1986/85-1513"><em>Edwards v. Aguillard</em></a>.</p> <p>After that ruling, the creationists attempted to “evolve.” They tried renaming their idea several times – “the theory of abrupt appearance” and “evidence against evolution” were popular for a time. But it was “intelligent design” that got the evolution deniers most excited. That fared no better in court. In 2005, AU and its allies<a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/december-2020-church-state-magazine/featured/standing-up-for-separation-and-science-15"> </a><a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/december-2020-church-state-magazine/featured/standing-up-for-separation-and-science-15">won a legal case</a> and got ID kicked out of a Dover, Pa., public school.</p> <p>No matter what you call it, creationism remains religion, not science. Old-school creationism is anchored in a literal reading of the Book of Genesis. That’s fine for Sunday School, but it has no place in a public school science class.</p> <p>Aside from violating church-state separation, creationism also denies our children exposure to real science. It leaves them bereft of the skills they need to compete. If they fall too far behind, they may find entire careers closed off to them. In a world where science and technology shape our lives, no one should want that.</p> <p>There’s still time to pull back, Arkansas. Remember, strike three means you’re out.</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/arkansas" hreflang="en">Arkansas</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/creationism" hreflang="en">Creationism</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/science" hreflang="en">Science</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/intelligent-design" hreflang="en">Intelligent Design</a></div> </div> </div> Thu, 08 Apr 2021 13:24:23 +0000 boston 16748 at https://www.au.org Ralph Reed’s Threats To Ga. Companies For Supporting The Right To Vote Ring Hollow https://www.au.org/blogs/reed-GA-law <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Ralph Reed’s Threats To Ga. Companies For Supporting The Right To Vote Ring Hollow</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 Apr 07, 2021 - 08:47</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/voters%20at%20box.jpg?h=3cd19eb9&amp;itok=1siB9uQm" width="1700" height="525" alt="voters" title="voting" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>Georgia lawmakers are starting to experience blowback from their passage of a wide-ranging law designed to keep conservatives in power by erecting barriers to voting, especially for Black people and other minorities. Major League Baseball has decided <a href="https://www.mlb.com/news/2021-all-star-game-draft-relocated?partnerId=zh-20210403-156906-MLB&amp;qid=1026&amp;bt_ee=uEauvqHtxfke0CSUcG3%2BtMlBAgkypumQprx0S%2BMUHtGJh0jtq8H%2BDpY%2FACsCIca2&amp;bt_user_id=&amp;bt_ts=1617449876123">to move the All-Star game out of state</a>, and officials at Georgia-based corporations such as Coca-Cola and Delta Airlines are <a href="https://www.npr.org/2021/04/01/983450176/based-on-a-lie-georgia-voting-law-faces-wave-of-corporate-backlash">speaking out</a>.</p> <p>Hearing corporate leaders blast the bill for what it is – the worst attack on the right to vote since Jim Crow – was too much for Ralph Reed, a Georgia resident and longtime Christian nationalist operative. Reed, who ran the Christian Coalition for TV preacher Pat Robertson in the 1990s and who founded the Faith &amp; Freedom Coalition after his attempt at a political career <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/september-2006-church-state/people-events/republican-voters-reject-ralph-reed-in">crashed and burned</a>, took to the airwaves recently to admonish the business community for accepting “the lies that have been told about this bill by the radical left.”</p> <p>Appearing on America Family Radio, <a href="https://onenewsnow.com/politics-govt/2021/04/05/ralph-reed-truth-will-prevail-over-lefts-despicable-lies">Reed harrumphed</a>, “If these corporate CEOs keep this up, they better watch out because the left is already after their industry with taxes, regulations, boondoggles, and massive spending and regulations. The only friends [the CEOs] have got in terms of protecting their jobs and their industries is on the right, and if they keep kicking [them] in the teeth and telling lies about commonsense election reform like this, they may find themselves with no friends at all, on either side of the aisle.”</p> <p>More likely, these CEOs are waking up to the fact that attempting to prevent huge swaths of people from voting is unethical as well as bad for the bottom line. After all, do you really want to move your company into a state stuck in the 1950s, a place where many of your workers will find it difficult to access the ballot?</p> <p>Reed and his Christian nationalist cronies are hard at work trying to portray the Georgia law as needed reform. But as has been noted repeatedly, there was absolutely <a href="https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/research-reports/its-official-election-was-secure">no widespread fraud in Georgia or any other state</a> during the 2020 election, hence no need for “reform.” The fact that we pulled off an election so flawlessly in the middle of a raging pandemic is cause for celebration, not tearing down a proven, workable system.</p> <p>Georgia’s bill is a power grab by the state’s GOP leaders who are smarting over the fact that President Joe Biden won the state and Democrats captured two U.S. Senate seats. Their response to that isn’t subtle – they’re making it harder for the people who backed Biden to vote. As <em>The New York Times</em> <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/02/us/politics/georgia-voting-law-annotated.html">noted</a> in its in-depth analysis of the new law, “The Republican legislature and governor have made <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/25/us/politics/georgia-voting-law-republicans.html">a breathtaking assertion of partisan power in elections</a>, making absentee voting harder and creating restrictions and complications in the wake of narrow losses to Democrats.”</p> <p>Reed supports this law not because he wants to uphold “election integrity” or “close loopholes” for voting by mail but because he has always been a partisan operative. Over the course of Reed’s career, he has had one goal: putting the most extreme social conservatives in power so they’ll pass laws that shoehorn a rigid, intolerant form of fundamentalist Christianity into our laws and policies.</p> <p>Reed’s problem is that this scam isn’t working so well these days. As states like Georgia become purple, Reed and his allies know the only way their favored candidates can stay in power is to game the system and cheat. That’s what Georgia’s new law is about.</p> <p>One could argue that Georgia’s business leaders could have been more aggressive while the bill was being debated, but they’ve made it clear now that they don’t stand with the brigade of vote-denying Christian nationalists. No amount of bloviating by Reed is likely to change that.</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/ralph-reed" hreflang="en">ralph reed</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/georgia" hreflang="en">Georgia</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/voting-rights" hreflang="en">voting rights</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/pat-robertson" hreflang="en">Pat Robertson</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/faith-freedom-coalition" hreflang="en">Faith &amp; Freedom Coalition</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/religious-right-0" hreflang="en">Religious Right</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/joe-biden" hreflang="en">Joe Biden</a></div> </div> </div> Wed, 07 Apr 2021 12:47:09 +0000 boston 16747 at https://www.au.org The Bible Might Not Become Tennessee’s Official Book After All https://www.au.org/blogs/Tenn-Bible-Book <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">The Bible Might Not Become Tennessee’s Official Book After All</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">Tue Apr 06, 2021 - 08:38</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/about/people/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/Bible%20.jpg?h=e77fbe36&amp;itok=eeNu8ONR" width="1700" height="525" alt="Bible" title="Bible" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>Here’s some good news out of Tennessee: A resolution to name the Bible the official state book looks to be on the verge of collapse.</p> <p>If this issue sounds familiar to you, there’s a reason: State Rep. Jerry Sexton (R-Bean Station) has been pushing this measure for years, and<a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/june-2016-church-state/au-bulletin/tenn-house-fails-to-override-bible-bill-veto"> </a><a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/june-2016-church-state/au-bulletin/tenn-house-fails-to-override-bible-bill-veto">we’ve written about it before</a>. In 2016, Sexton managed to get the measure through both chambers, but it was vetoed by then-Gov. Bill Haslam.</p> <p>Undeterred, Sexton just kept re-introducing the proposal. This year, it passed the state House of Representatives 55-28 on March 29.</p> <p>The debate was spirited. State Rep. Johnny Shaw (D-Bolivar), who has opposed Sexton’s measure in past years, rose again to criticize it.</p> <p>“I don’t want to be embarrassed to be coming off as the holiest state in the nation and then not living up to it,” Shaw said.</p> <p>Another opponent of the measure, Rep. Ron Travis (R-Dayton), outlined a different reason for his no vote.</p> <p> “There is evil in government,” Travis said. “I just don’t feel like the Bible and evil should mix. There is evil in this building.”</p> <p>Sexton insisted that the resolution makes sense because Tennessee is home to several publishers who print a lot of Bibles. I suppose Sexton was trying to make a stab at a secular justification for the resolution, but he sort of gave up the game by admitting, “Whether you agree with it or not, this is my way of lifting it up.”</p> <p>Things took a twist when the measure advanced to the Senate. There it ran into an unexpected roadblock: Lt. Gov. Randy McNally (R), who really doesn’t like Sexton’s resolution.</p> <p>“I think it trivializes [the Bible] and places it along with other symbols the state has,” McNally told Tennessee Lookout, an online news site. He noted that the state has approved the salamander as the state’s official amphibian and limestone as its official rock.</p> <p>McNally signed on as a co-sponsor of the measure in the Senate, putting him into a position to possibly kill it.</p> <p>“Given his vocal opposition to the resolution, McNally’s decision to sign on as a sponsor signals his likely intent to kill the effort by never allowing it to be taken up in a Senate committee,” the Nashville <em>Tennessean</em><a href="https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/politics/2021/04/02/tennessee-bible-bill-mcnally-signs-on-may-try-kill-resolution-jerry-sexton/7064917002/"><em> </em></a><a href="https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/politics/2021/04/02/tennessee-bible-bill-mcnally-signs-on-may-try-kill-resolution-jerry-sexton/7064917002/">reported April 2</a>.</p> <p>Let’s hope so. Despite what Sexton may believe, it’s not the job of the government of Tennessee to “lift up” the Bible or any other religious book. Rather, it’s the job of Sexton and his fellow elected officials to ensure the state’s policies represent all Tennesseans, regardless of their religious beliefs. Let’s leave that task of “lifting up” the Bible where it belongs: with individual residents who believe and their religious leaders.</p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issues field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Issues</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/government-support-of-religion" hreflang="en">Government Support Of Religion</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Tags</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/tennessee" hreflang="en">Tennessee</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/bibles" hreflang="en">Bibles</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/ceremonial-deism" hreflang="en">Ceremonial Deism</a></div> </div> </div> Tue, 06 Apr 2021 12:38:21 +0000 boston 16745 at https://www.au.org Biden Administration Rejects Trump/Pompeo Emphasis On ‘Unalienable Rights’ https://www.au.org/blogs/blinken-pompeo-unalienable <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Biden Administration Rejects Trump/Pompeo Emphasis On ‘Unalienable Rights’</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 Apr 05, 2021 - 08:50</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/Blinken%20.png?h=c3fc559b&amp;itok=3FPIiIDq" width="1700" height="525" alt="blinken" title="Secretary of State Blinken" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>The administration of President Joe Biden continues to roll back misguided policies of the Trump era. Not all these actions are grabbing headlines, but they’re important and shouldn’t be overlooked.</p> <p>Here’s an example: The U.S. State Department, we learned last week, is <a href="https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/blinken-ends-trump-admin-s-human-rights-plan-promote-conservative-n1262499">putting an end</a> to a Trump policy that emphasized far-right theological views in international relations.      </p> <p>Under former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the department was guided by a <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/julyaugust-2019-church-state-magazine/people-events/state-department-to-form">Commission on Unalienable Rights</a>. The name may sound harmless, even positive, but don’t be fooled. This entity, yet another sop to Trump’s Christian nationalist allies, elevated extreme definitions of religious freedom and property rights over other types of human rights and downplayed persecution against LGBTQ people abroad.</p> <p>The change had been heavily criticized by human rights advocates, and now the commission is no more. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced on March 30 that the Pompeo/Trump approach was formally being scrapped.</p> <p>“One of the core principles of human rights is that they are universal,” Blinken said. “All people are entitled to these rights, no matter where they’re born, what they believe, whom they love, or any other characteristic. Human rights are also co-equal; there is no hierarchy that makes some rights more important than others.”</p> <p>Blinken added, “Past unbalanced statements that suggest such a hierarchy, including those offered by a recently disbanded State Department advisory committee, do not represent a guiding document for this administration. At my confirmation hearing, I promised that the Biden-Harris Administration would repudiate those unbalanced views. We do so decisively today.”</p> <p>Critics accused the Trump administration of downplaying women’s rights, reproductive freedom and LGBTQ rights in its approach to international relations. For example, the Trump administration removed sections detailing attacks on women’s reproductive rights abroad in its annual human rights report. The commission, which was stacked with conservatives, was chaired by Mary Ann Glendon, former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican and a high-profile opponent of legal abortion and LGBTQ rights. (The LGBTQ-rights organization GLAAD <a href="https://www.glaad.org/blog/glaad-issues-new-report-anti-lgbtq-activists-leading-state-department%E2%80%99s-new-%E2%80%9Ccommission">issued a report</a> noting that seven of the commission’s 10 members had made anti-LGBTQ statements in the past.)</p> <p>Christian nationalists heralded the Pompeo/Trump approach because it supposedly emphasized the fact that rights are “God given.” The administration also tied its approach to extreme forms of “America first” nationalism.</p> <p>Pompeo clearly saw the creation of the commission as part of his legacy. He said he hoped that his approach to human rights around the globe would guide future administrations. That's not going to happen. NBC News reported that nearly “all references to the commission’s report and Pompeo’s advocacy of it have been removed from the State Department’s website”; they remain only as archived pages.</p> <p>That is precisely where this misguided approach to human rights belongs.</p> <p><em>Photo: Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Screenshot from U.S. State Department video. </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/lgbtq-rights" hreflang="en">LGBTQ Rights</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/religious-freedom" hreflang="en">Religious Freedom</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Tags</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/joe-biden" hreflang="en">Joe Biden</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/donald-trump" hreflang="en">Donald Trump</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/mike-pompeo" hreflang="en">Mike Pompeo</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/state-dept" hreflang="en">State Dept.</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/reproductive-freedom" hreflang="en">Reproductive Freedom</a></div> </div> </div> Mon, 05 Apr 2021 12:50:42 +0000 boston 16744 at https://www.au.org Hypocrisy Alert! Conservatives Who Celebrated Trump Won’t Acknowledge Biden’s Faith https://www.au.org/blogs/biden-faith-poll <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Hypocrisy Alert! Conservatives Who Celebrated Trump Won’t Acknowledge Biden’s Faith</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 Apr 01, 2021 - 09:03</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/biden%20in%20church%20.png?h=008bae41&amp;itok=N1bsBYJd" width="1700" height="525" alt="Bidens in church" title="Bidens attend church " typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>Joe Biden is America’s second Catholic president. By all accounts, his faith is genuine. Biden often incorporates religious references into his speeches, and his inauguration was so studded with religiosity that Americans United <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/religion-at-inauguration">urged him to remember</a> that not all Americans are people of faith.</p> <p>Biden attends Mass regularly. Whether you share Biden’s faith or not, and whether you appreciate his religious rhetoric or not, it’s pretty clear he is sincere about it and is a genuinely devout man.</p> <p>Yet, according to a recent <a href="https://www.pewforum.org/2021/03/30/most-democrats-and-republicans-know-biden-is-catholic-but-they-differ-sharply-about-how-religious-he-is/?utm_source=adaptivemailer&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=rel%20-%2021-03-30%20wave%2084%20biden%20harris&amp;org=982&amp;lvl=100&amp;ite=8191&amp;lea=1770945&amp;ctr=0&amp;par=1&amp;trk=">Pew Forum poll</a>, nearly two-thirds of self-identified Republicans say Biden is “not too” or “not at all” religious.</p> <p>Results like this are yet another example of how Christian nationalism has poisoned the national discourse, leading some people, for purely partisan reasons, to ignore facts that are staring them in the face.</p> <p>Many conservatives, especially those affiliated with the Religious Right, are living in their own little bubble of illusions, a place where facts dare not tread. In this parallel word, Donald Trump really won the election, antifa members assaulted the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 and Biden is practically a secular humanist.</p> <p>The irony is, many of these same people worshipped at the altar of Trump, perhaps the most biblically illiterate president we’ve ever had. (Remember the time when Trump, after claiming that the Bible was his favorite book, was asked to <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2015/08/27/politics/donald-trump-favorite-bible-verses">name a verse</a> he enjoyed and couldn’t? Or his famous reference to “<a href="https://www.npr.org/2016/01/18/463528847/citing-two-corinthians-trump-struggles-to-make-the-sale-to-evangelicals">Two Corinthians</a>”?) You didn’t have to be a theologian to see that Trump’s personal behavior – the boasting of sexual assaults, the constant lying, the name-calling and crude attacks on perceived enemies – had little in common with Christian morality. Yet to people like Franklin Graham, Jerry Falwell Jr., Tony Perkins, Ralph Reed and other moral majoritarians, Trump was practically a new savior. (Some on the fringes are, believe it or not, still awaiting his <a href="https://friendlyatheist.patheos.com/2021/03/31/evangelist-god-and-i-spoke-and-trump-will-return-to-power-by-april/">Second Coming</a>.)</p> <p>There’s some comfort in knowing that most Americans aren’t buying into the Christian nationalists’ delusions. Overall, 64% of Americans say Biden is either “very” or “somewhat” religious.</p> <p>The Book of Matthew advises, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits.”</p> <p>Christian nationalists feasted on Trump’s rotten fruits for four years, eagerly swapping their integrity for a taste of political power and the promise of having their religious views melded into public policy. It must be difficult to rationalize that level of hypocrisy. But pretending that the man who came after Trump is cut from the same cloth isn’t the answer. Anyone whose eyes are open can see that his fruits are quite different.</p> <p><em>Photo: President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden attend Catholic services in Washington, D.C. </em></p> <p> </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/joe-biden" hreflang="en">Joe Biden</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/donald-trump" hreflang="en">Donald Trump</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/franklin-graham" hreflang="en">Franklin Graham</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/tony-perkins" hreflang="en">Tony Perkins</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/ralph-reed" hreflang="en">ralph reed</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/roman-catholic-church" hreflang="en">Roman Catholic Church</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/pew-research" hreflang="en">Pew Research</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/us-capitol" hreflang="en">U.S. Capitol</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/jerry-falwell-jr-0" hreflang="en">Jerry Falwell Jr.</a></div> </div> </div> Thu, 01 Apr 2021 13:03:59 +0000 boston 16743 at https://www.au.org What America’s Changing Religious Demographics Mean For Church-State Separation https://www.au.org/blogs/HOW-membership-poll <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">What America’s Changing Religious Demographics Mean For Church-State Separation</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/95" lang="" about="/user/95" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">boston</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Wed Mar 31, 2021 - 09:14</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/woman%20in%20field.jpg?h=51a72048&amp;itok=x9nFT_L_" width="1700" height="525" alt="woman in field" title="woman in field" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>A <a href="https://religionnews.com/2021/03/29/gallup-fewer-than-half-of-americans-belong-to-a-church-or-other-house-of-worship/">new poll</a> from Gallup shows that fewer than 50% of Americans say they belong to a house of worship.</p> <p>Gallup has been asking this question since 1937, and the figure has never been this low. In the mid-1990s, the number was 70%. It dropped to 50% in 2019 and now stands at 47%.</p> <p>What’s going on? Sociologists and professors of religious studies are grappling with that question, but what we’re seeing may be nothing more than the logical culmination of the broad spirit of religious freedom embraced by the founders.</p> <p>Despite what Christian nationalists may say, religious freedom in America was never intended to be defined as, “You can be anything you want – as long as you’re Christian.” The “Christian nation” myth has no historical foundation and <a href="https://www.au.org/resources/publications/is-america-a-christian-nation">is debunked</a> by many things, including the text of our own Constitution.</p> <p>America’s version of religious freedom has always encompassed the right to doubt, to debate, to argue, to change your mind, to blend traditions and to create your own personal theology outside the walls of any house of worship – or to reject religion entirely. Today, growing numbers of Americans are taking that spirit and running with it.</p> <p>Our founders would approve. Reflecting on his pioneering religious liberty statute in Virginia, <a href="https://tjrs.monticello.org/letter/1399">Thomas Jefferson wrote</a> that the measure was designed to protect “the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo and infidel of every denomination.”</p> <p>Jefferson himself indulged liberally in this freedom. He questioned the claims of Christianity, <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/november-2020-church-state-magazine/books-ideas/cut-and-paste-job-a-new-history-of">edited the New Testament</a> to remove the portions he did not accept and considered Jesus to be a moral teacher, not a divine figure. Asked to describe his religious beliefs, <a href="https://encyclopediavirginia.org/entries/letter-from-thomas-jefferson-to-ezra-stiles-ely-june-25-1819/">Jefferson replied</a>, “I am of a sect by myself, as far as I know.” (Long before Jefferson, <a href="https://www.history.com/topics/reformation/roger-williams">Roger Williams</a>, founder of Rhode Island and an early religious freedom advocate, explored different spiritual paths. Williams was raised in the Church of England, became a Puritan minister, then briefly embraced the Baptist faith before ending up as a spiritual seeker, not fitting into any box.) </p> <p>Growing numbers of Americans are traveling the path that Williams, Jefferson and others blazed. They aren’t necessarily jettisoning belief in God; they’re just less interested in organized religion.</p> <p>The decline of organized religion will affect church-state issues. For starters, fewer souls in the pews means fewer dollars in the collection plate. Some religious leaders might be tempted to turn to public support for their schools and other institutions to make up the difference. That would be a mistake. It’s not the government’s job to bail out religious entities if the people no longer wish to support them.</p> <p>Secondly, we could see an important shift in how social services are provided in America. Some scholars have <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/religion/2021/03/29/church-membership-fallen-below-majority/">bemoaned the decline</a> of institutional religion, noting that houses of worship sponsor things like food banks, homeless shelters, substance abuse counseling and so on.</p> <p>That’s true, but outsourcing social services to faith-based groups is something our political leaders have chosen; there are other options. Countries in Western Europe, Scandinavia and other parts of the world that have become more secular have found ways to help people in need without funneling services through religious groups. If they do it, we can, too. If we’re smart, we’ll start now.</p> <p>Christian nationalists are already bemoaning recent trends. A commentator for the American Family Association <a href="https://onenewsnow.com/church/2021/03/30/gallup-veteran-of-polls-documents-worst-ever-figure-for-churches">has opined</a>, “We will be a secular police state, like so much of Europe is, like so much of the world is becoming.”</p> <p>These alarmists need to remember that how, when or if people worship has never been any of the government’s business. Increasingly, growing numbers of Americans are, by their actions, making that clear.</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/history-and-origins-of-church-state-separation" hreflang="en">History and Origins 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/gallup-poll" hreflang="en">Gallup Poll</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/thomas-jefferson" hreflang="en">thomas jefferson</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/christian-nationalism" hreflang="en">Christian nationalism</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/afa" hreflang="en">AFA</a></div> </div> </div> Wed, 31 Mar 2021 13:14:59 +0000 boston 16742 at https://www.au.org New Arkansas Law Fosters Religious Interference In Health Care https://www.au.org/blogs/Arkansas-health-law <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">New Arkansas Law Fosters Religious Interference In Health Care</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">Tue Mar 30, 2021 - 08:42</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/doctor%20visit.jpg?h=16e55b7b&amp;itok=jESiHl3b" width="1700" height="525" alt="doctor" title="medical visit " typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>The furor over Georgia’s new truly appalling<a href="https://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/why-one-part-georgia-republicans-anti-voting-law-stands-out-n1262296"> </a><a href="https://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/why-one-part-georgia-republicans-anti-voting-law-stands-out-n1262296">voter suppression law</a> has overshadowed a recently passed measure in Arkansas that’s also quite disturbing.</p> <p>Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) has signed a new law that allows health care workers to refuse service based on religious or moral objections. The ramifications could be widespread.</p> <p>The measure is clearly targeted at members of the LGBTQ community and is among several mean-spirited bills pending in a number of states that seek to undermine LGBTQ rights. (<a href="https://www.cnn.com/2021/03/28/us/transgender-rights-arkansas-tennessee-anti-trans-laws/index.html">Many of them</a> are aimed at the transgender community.) Under this new law, health care workers and institutions such as hospitals will now have the right to refuse to participate in non-emergency forms of care.</p> <p>Supporters say such laws protect the right of “conscience,” but all they really do is put people’s lives at risk. Are you comfortable with allowing individual health care workers to make snap judgments on what constitutes a “medical emergency”?  Do we really want private decisions about our health care subjected to someone’s religious veto – a person we may not even know?</p> <p>That’s clearly not what Americans want, but in 2019, the Trump administration attempted to apply a version of this “denial of care” rule nationwide anyway. At the time, AU cited several examples of what could happen if the rule were allowed to stand:</p> <ul> <li>An interracial or interfaith couple seeking fertility treatments could be turned away by a hospital receptionist who objects to their marriage.</li> <li>An assisted-living facility nurse could refuse to assist an elderly resident whose oxygen tank is malfunctioning because the patient displays symbols of a non-Christian faith in her room.</li> <li>A pediatrician could refuse to treat a sick child because his parents are gay or transgender.</li> </ul> <p>Americans United and other organizations<a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/trumps-denial-of-care-rule-risks-peoples-lives-thats-why-au-is-challenging"> </a><a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/trumps-denial-of-care-rule-risks-peoples-lives-thats-why-au-is-challenging">immediately challenged the rule in court</a> – and we won. U.S. District Judge William Alsup blocked the rule from going into effect, declaring, “When a rule is so saturated with error, as here, there is no point in trying to sever the problematic provisions. The whole rule must go.” (Two other federal courts also invalidated the rule.) AU has urged the Biden administration to<a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/december-2020-church-state-magazine/featured/an-agenda-for-change-americans-united"> </a><a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/december-2020-church-state-magazine/featured/an-agenda-for-change-americans-united">repeal the rule</a> entirely.</p> <p>Americans deserve to receive health care untainted by religious bias. Measures like Arkansas’ new law only serve to drag us backward while causing real harm to real people.</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/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/arkansas" hreflang="en">Arkansas</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/trump-administration" hreflang="en">Trump Administration</a></div> </div> </div> Tue, 30 Mar 2021 12:42:59 +0000 boston 16741 at https://www.au.org Michigan Catholic School Has No Right To Be Exempt From Mask Mandate, AU Tells Court  https://www.au.org/blogs/Michigan-school-masks <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Michigan Catholic School Has No Right To Be Exempt From Mask Mandate, AU Tells 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">Mon Mar 29, 2021 - 09:20</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%20in%20masks.jpg?h=2992ba0a&amp;itok=fOn_2PKq" width="1700" height="525" alt="masks" title="kids in masks at school " typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>There’s good news in America’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Growing numbers of Americans have been vaccinated, many schools are again offering in-person classes and some states are starting to loosen restrictions on gatherings.</p> <p>But health experts say we’re not in the clear yet, and that’s why it’s important that Americans continue to follow some commonsense regulations, including wearing masks in spaces where lots of people gather.</p> <p>Unfortunately, some religious groups are resisting mask mandates. In Michigan, for example, officials at Resurrection School, a Catholic institution in Lansing, don’t want to comply with a general order from state health officials that all people in the state who are at least 5 years old wear face masks whenever they are in a shared space with someone outside their household. This order applies equally to all schools in the state; it’s binding on public schools and private schools, be they religious or secular.</p> <p>The school’s leaders<a href="https://www.mlive.com/public-interest/2020/10/catholic-school-sues-michigan-to-drop-its-unreasonable-mask-mandate-in-schools.html"> </a><a href="https://www.mlive.com/public-interest/2020/10/catholic-school-sues-michigan-to-drop-its-unreasonable-mask-mandate-in-schools.html">have a</a><a href="https://www.mlive.com/public-interest/2020/10/catholic-school-sues-michigan-to-drop-its-unreasonable-mask-mandate-in-schools.html">rgu</a><a href="https://www.mlive.com/public-interest/2020/10/catholic-school-sues-michigan-to-drop-its-unreasonable-mask-mandate-in-schools.html">ed</a> in court, “In accordance with the teachings of the Catholic faith, Resurrection School believes that every human has dignity and is made in God’s image and likeness. Unfortunately, a mask shields our humanity. And because God created us in His image, we are masking that image.”</p> <p>In a friend-of-the-court <a href="https://www.au.org/sites/default/files/2021-03/AU%20Amicus%20Brief%2C%206th%20Circuit%2C%20Mich.%2C%20Resurrection%20School%20v.%20Hertel%203.24.21.pdf">brief</a> filed last week before the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Americans United and 13 religious and civil-rights organizations don’t dispute the sincerity of this religious claim but point out that in these extraordinary times, government may take steps to protect the health and safety of everyone, as long as its regulations are neutral and treat religious and secular entities alike, as Michigan’s rules do.</p> <p>The brief traces the history of religious freedom in America, pointing out that the provision in the First Amendment that ensures the “free exercise” of religion “was never intended or originally understood to require religious exemptions from laws that protect public health or safety. Rather, the Clause was enacted to address a long history of governmental efforts to suppress particular religious groups based on disapproval of the groups or their beliefs.”</p> <p>Concludes the brief, “The precious right of religious freedom should not be misused in a manner that jeopardizes the health of children and their family members.”</p> <p>Indeed, it should not. We’re making real progress in tamping down the spread of the virus. This is exactly the wrong time to allow misguided interpretations of religious freedom to set us back.</p> <p>P.S. Americans United’s Legal Department has filed 48 friend-of-the-court briefs in coronavirus-related cases across the country, urging courts not to grant demands for religious exemptions from public health orders. AU’s Public Policy Department has weighed in with letters to governors, legislators and other government officials, and we’ve made the case against special exemptions for religious groups in the media and other public forums. You can read about<a href="https://www.au.org/tags/protecting-religious-freedom-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic"> </a><a href="https://www.au.org/tags/protecting-religious-freedom-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic">our work here</a>.</p> <p> </p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issues field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Issues</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/religious-freedom" hreflang="en">Religious Freedom</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Tags</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/protecting-religious-freedom-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic" hreflang="en">Protecting Religious Freedom During the Coronavirus Pandemic</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/michigan" hreflang="en">Michigan</a></div> </div> </div> Mon, 29 Mar 2021 13:20:03 +0000 boston 16725 at https://www.au.org Nightmare For Christian Nationalists: New Poll Shows Wide Support For LGBTQ Rights https://www.au.org/blogs/PRRI-poll-LGBTQ <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Nightmare For Christian Nationalists: New Poll Shows Wide Support For LGBTQ Rights</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 Mar 25, 2021 - 08:39</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/about/people/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/LGBTQ%20flag%20and%20hands.jpg?h=d01b776b&amp;itok=XyKKcodl" width="1700" height="525" alt="LGBTQ flag" title="LGBTQ flag " typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>Christian nationalist organizations have for decades used LGBTQ rights as the leading wedge of the culture wars. They did that because it worked. For a long time, fomenting anti-LGBTQ hysteria paid great dividends to these organizations that want their religious beliefs inserted into our country’s secular laws.</p> <p>Those days are rapidly drawing to a close. <a href="https://www.prri.org/research/despite-partisan-rancor-despite-partisan-rancor-americans-broadly-support-lgbtq-rights-broadly-support-lgbtq-rights/">A new report</a> from Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) shows remarkably broad support for protecting LGBTQ Americans from discrimination. According to PRRI, 76% pf Americans “favor laws that would protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans from discrimination in jobs, housing, and public accommodation. Less than one in five Americans (19%) oppose nondiscrimination protections for LGBT Americans.”</p> <p>PRRI added, “Majorities of nearly every subgroup of Americans favor LGBT nondiscrimination protections, across race, age, religious, and partisan lines.” The organization also found that “support for LGBT nondiscrimination protections since 2015 has largely come among Americans of color and white mainline Protestants.”</p> <p>Of special interest to Americans United is the question of discrimination against LGBTQ people by the owners of businesses who raise religious objections. PRRI found that opposition to such forms of discrimination had been on the decline but is now inching upward.</p> <p>“From 2016 to 2019, Americans’ opposition to allowing small businesses to refuse products or services to gay or lesbian people if doing so violates their religious beliefs declined, from 61% in 2016 to 56% in 2019,” reported PRRI. “This trend reversed itself in 2020, with 61% of Americans opposing such religiously based refusals, bringing opposition back up to 2016 levels. One-third of Americans (33%) favor allowing a small business to refuse service to gay and lesbian people if doing so violates their religious beliefs.”</p> <p>At Americans United, where we work to ensure that religious freedom is used as a shield that protects instead of a sword that lashes out and causes harm, we wish those numbers were higher. But we’re heartened by the fact that support for LGBTQ rights across the board is moving in the right direction. Many Americans can doubtless remember when public support for marriage equality and protections for LGBTQ people in the workplace was anemic. We’ve come a long way in a relatively short time.</p> <p>That doesn’t mean there isn’t more work to do. There is – a lot. Despite what Americans tell pollsters, many states still offer no protection to their LGBTQ residents. A federal LGBTQ rights law, the <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/two-important-bills">Equality Act</a>, has passed the U.S. House of Representatives but hasn’t cleared the Senate. AU supports this bill and another piece of proposed legislation, the <a href="https://www.au.org/tags/do-no-harm-act">Do No Harm Act</a>, which is pending in Congress.</p> <p>Nor do poll results like this mean that Christian nationalists or their allies in government will let up. Having lost the fight over marriage equality, they’ve lately moved on to targeting the transgender community through a host of <a href="https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/state-anti-transgender-bills-represent-coordinated-attack-advocates-say-n1258124">mean-spirited bills</a>. And many fundamentalist pastors and well-heeled Christian nationalist groups are <a href="https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/group/american-family-association">still spewing the same invective</a> against LGBTQ people we’ve been hearing since the rise of the Religious Right in the late 1970s.</p> <p>But for most Americans, the question of LGBTQ rights has been settled. Expect the Christian nationalists to continue carping. The rest of us are moving on.</p> <p>Remember, Americans United works tirelessly to protect of the LGBTQ community and others by ensuring that religious freedom isn’t used to discriminate and cause harms. <a href="https://www.au.org/become-a-member">We’d love to have your support</a>.</p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issues field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Issues</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/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> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Tags</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/public-religion-research-prri" hreflang="en">Public Religion Research (PRRI)</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/do-no-harm-act" hreflang="en">Do No Harm Act</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/equality-act" hreflang="en">Equality Act</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/religious-right-0" hreflang="en">Religious Right</a></div> </div> </div> Thu, 25 Mar 2021 12:39:17 +0000 boston 16714 at https://www.au.org