The Wall of Separation Blog https://www.au.org/ en Mississippi Trades Confederate Emblem For ‘In God We Trust’ On State Flag https://www.au.org/blogs/mississippi-new-flag <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Mississippi Trades Confederate Emblem For ‘In God We Trust’ On State Flag</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, 07/02/2020 - 09:16</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/about/people/samantha-sokol" hreflang="und">Samantha Sokol</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/miss%20capitol.jpg?h=dd75c2cb&amp;itok=dtu7N0L3" width="1700" height="525" alt="Miss. capitol" title="Jackson, Miss." typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) on Tuesday <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/30/politics/mississippi-state-flag-confederate-emblem-removal/index.html">signed</a> a bill to remove the Confederate battle emblem from the state’s flag. The state’s legislature passed the measure last weekend with an <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/06/28/mississippi-legislators-expected-debate-removal-confederate-icon-state-flag/">overwhelming vote of 128 to 37</a>. After weeks of nationwide Black Lives Matter protests, decades of organizing by local leaders, and 155 years since losing the Civil War, it was a long-overdue rebuke. The Confederate battle flag represents Mississippi’s fight to uphold slavery during the Civil War and brutal years of white supremacy under Jim Crow laws. More recently the emblem has been adopted as a <a href="https://www.adl.org/education/references/hate-symbols/confederate-flag">rallying symbol by white nationalists</a>.</p> <p>But the measure to change Mississippi’s state flag contains a troubling stipulation: Whatever new design is chosen for the flag, it must contain the words “In God We Trust.” Many lawmakers thought that was the right replacement, like sponsor Sen. Briggs Hopson (R-Issaquena), who <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1yRUagTaWT4">noted</a>, “I’m proud to put that on our state flag and I hope it stays there forever.” Others, like Sen. David Parker (R-DeSoto) <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1yRUagTaWT4">added</a> that “If we are going to make a change, I feel very strongly that it sends a strong message to … everybody looking and watching this today that we are putting God first.”</p> <p>Mississippi has finally acknowledged that its white nationalist flag should be discarded, not venerated. But “In God We Trust” is not the right choice.</p> <p>Mississippi’s decision trades a white nationalist symbol for a Christian nationalist one. Here’s why: “In God We Trust” may seem like a common phrase, but it has also long been a rallying cry for Christian nationalists, who spread the false idea that the U.S. was founded as a “Christian nation” and that the government should favor and support Christianity over all other religions and nonreligion. In 1956, Christian nationalists <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/february-2015-church-state/featured/myths-debunked">fought to change</a> the national motto from <em>E pluribus unum</em> (“From many, one”), which had served as an unofficial motto since the early years of the republic, to “In God We Trust” to distinguish the U.S. from the “godless” Communists of the Cold War.</p> <p>Since then, Christian nationalists have pushed for <a href="https://ingodwetrust.com/">government displays of “In God We Trust”</a> on everything from<a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/february-2011-church-state/au-bulletin/kentucky-unveils-in-god-we-trust-license-plate"> license plates </a>and <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/october-2015-church-state/people-events/in-god-we-trust-stickers-appearing-on-police">police cars</a> to <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/march-2014-church-state/au-bulletin/miss-senate-adds-in-god-we-trust-to-state-seal">state seals </a>and <a href="https://www.brownwoodnews.com/2015/01/20/commissioners-vote-to-keep-in-god-we-trust-displayed-in-courtroom/">courthouses</a>. And of course, requiring <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/six-states-post-in-god-we-trust-in-public-schools-alienating-kids-and">“In God We Trust” displays in public schools</a> is a central tenet of <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/uncovering-project-blitz-fighting-a-secret-coordinated-legislative">Project Blitz</a>, a playbook created by three Christian nationalist groups to pass state bills that undermine religious freedom and redefine the U.S. as a Christian nation. Project Blitz’s architects hope to use “In God We Trust” as a stepping stone to more damaging bills that allow public schools to promote prayer, teach creationism, and even license discrimination in the name of religious freedom.</p> <p>In Mississippi, some legislators had the same goal of escalation. They were hoping that putting “In God We Trust” on the flag would be a stepping stone to even more Christian nationalist initiatives. Sen. Michael McLendon (R-Hernando) <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1yRUagTaWT4">said</a>, “I think what might change the minds of [my district] if by changing and putting ‘In God We Trust’ on there, if there’s a bill next January putting prayer back in school.”</p> <p>It’s not even a new strategy to appease supporters of white nationalist flags by replacing them with Christian nationalist symbols or even lesser-known references to the confederate flag. A similar saga played out in Georgia in 2003, when <a href="https://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/nation/2003-04-04-georgia-flag_x.htm">the state replaced the confederate emblem on their flag</a> with – you guessed it – “In God We Trust.” Both Alabama and Florida adopted flags containing the St. Andrew’s Cross, a <a href="https://extras.denverpost.com/flags/">symbol</a> of both the Confederacy and Christianity. <a href="https://dos.myflorida.com/florida-facts/florida-state-symbols/state-flag/">Florida</a>’s flag, like Georgia’s, also added on “In God We Trust.”</p> <p>These flags and their histories show that Christian nationalism and white nationalism are closely tied. And it’s not just symbols; the proof is in the polls. <a href="https://www.deseret.com/indepth/2019/8/5/20797494/what-is-white-nationalism-and-what-does-it-have-to-do-with-religion#president-donald-trump-speaks-about-the-mass-shootings-in-el-paso-texas-and-dayton-ohio-in-the-diplomatic-reception-room-of-the-white-house-monday-aug-5-2019-in-washington">Researchers find</a> that the more people’s views align with Christian nationalism, the more likely they are to also have negative attitudes towards racial and religious minorities. <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2332649218790983">Christians nationalists are more likely</a> to oppose interracial marriage, hold anti-Muslim prejudice, believe that Black Americans are more violent than white Americans and blame Black Americans who are killed by police. As Caroline Mala Corbin of the University Miami School of Law <a href="https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3466943">summarizes</a>, for Christian nationalists, “The mythical Christian America pictured is actually a white Christian America. In other words, ‘Christian nation’ is usually understood to mean ‘white Christian nation.” Unsurprisingly, <a href="https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3466943">studies</a> show that an overwhelming majority of supporters of Christian nationalism are white.</p> <p>Of course, not everyone who supports “In God We Trust” is a white nationalist. And the effect of those words cannot be compared to that of the Confederate emblem, which symbolizes the brutality of slavery and the injustice of segregation. For 126 years, Mississippians have lived under a flag that paid homage to those white Mississippians who enslaved and terrorized Black people.</p> <p>Still, our vision of justice should be expansive. Mississippi should not replace one exclusionary flag with another. <a href="https://www.pewforum.org/religious-landscape-study/state/mississippi/">Mississippians</a> practice a variety of religions and faiths, and one in four identify as nonreligious. Our state flags are powerful symbols, so they should represent our shared values and the diversity of our communities. But the new Mississippi flag is just one indication that we still have a ways to go to be an inclusive society: Polls show that people continue to hold negative views towards atheists, who <a href="https://www.pewforum.org/2019/07/23/feelings-toward-religious-groups/">remain</a> among the most negatively viewed groups in America. Unfortunately, under the bill signed by Reeves this week, Mississippi’s flag will continue to signal who is welcome and valued in the Magnolia State and who is not.</p> <p>Mississippi can’t just paper over its white nationalist symbols with Christian nationalist symbols and say that justice is done.  </p> <p><em>Photo: Mississippi Capitol Building in Jackson</em></p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issues field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Issues</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/government-support-of-religion" hreflang="en">Government Support Of Religion</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Tags</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/official-prayer-religious-displays-amp-ceremonial-religion-outside-schools" hreflang="en">Official Prayer, Religious Displays &amp;amp; Ceremonial Religion (outside schools)</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/ceremonial-deism" hreflang="en">Ceremonial Deism</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/god-we-trust" hreflang="en">in god we trust</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/mississippi" hreflang="en">Mississippi</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/christian-nation-myth" hreflang="en">Christian nation myth</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/project-blitz" hreflang="en">Project Blitz</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/official-prayer-public-school" hreflang="en">official prayer in public school</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/neo-confederates" hreflang="en">neo-Confederates</a></div> </div> </div> Thu, 02 Jul 2020 13:16:11 +0000 boston 16279 at https://www.au.org Indiana Catholic Schools Could Crack Down On LGBTQ Students While Pulling In Taxpayer Dollars https://www.au.org/blogs/indiana-voucher-schools <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Indiana Catholic Schools Could Crack Down On LGBTQ Students While Pulling In Taxpayer Dollars</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, 07/01/2020 - 10:49</span> <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/sad%20lgbtq%20student.jpg?h=756f59f9&amp;itok=W4nOnKPY" width="1700" height="525" alt="sad student" title="sag young woman " typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>By Rebecca Rifkind-Brown</p> <p>Yesterday the U.S. Supreme Court handed down<a href="https://www.au.org/media/press-releases/supreme-court-decision-in-espinoza-v-montana-corrupts-foundational-principle"> </a><a href="https://www.au.org/media/press-releases/supreme-court-decision-in-espinoza-v-montana-corrupts-foundational-principle">a disturbing ruling</a> that will likely open the door to more taxpayer aid to private religious schools.</p> <p>As Americans United has noted, one of the problems with vouchers is that they force taxpayers to prop up private schools that engage in blatant forms of discrimination.</p> <p>An example of this is playing out in Indianapolis, where officials with the Catholic Archdiocese<a href="https://www.metroweekly.com/2020/06/indianapolis-archdioceses-new-policy-would-ban-transgender-children-from-parochial-schools/"> </a><a href="https://www.metroweekly.com/2020/06/indianapolis-archdioceses-new-policy-would-ban-transgender-children-from-parochial-schools/">have implemented policies</a> that will effectively ban transgender students from attending parochial schools in central and southern Indiana – even though many of its schools are receiving taxpayer support under Indiana’s voucher program. This new policy was enacted at the beginning of the month and was influenced by a document released by the Vatican in 2019 that declared being transgender antithetical to the teachings of the Catholic Church.</p> <p>The new policy states that “any student whose ‘gender’ has been legally changed from their biological sex, or who has chemically and/or surgically altered their given biology, may not be eligible for enrollment” in the schools controlled by the Archdiocese. The policy goes on to declare that students must dress in accordance with their biological sex at birth, must use the restroom of their biological sex at birth and must use the pronouns that match their sex at birth – policies that essentially force transgender students to erase their identity.</p> <p>Students who struggle with gender issues are told that they should seek assistance from pastors and trained professionals “who might best assist them in clarifying and defining issues of self (and sexuality) identity in accordance with Catholic Church teaching” – in other words, stop being transgender. </p> <p>The new policy isn’t the first time that the Indianapolis Archdiocese has discriminated against people based on their sexual identity. Last year the Archdiocese fired a number of LGBTQ identifying teachers and staff members, as well as a social worker who worked at one of the schools and who criticized the Archdiocese for its conduct.</p> <p>Indiana has the biggest voucher program in the country. This means that religious schools – which answer to church officials and aren’t held to same accountability standards as public institutions – could be receiving taxpayer dollars to fund their programs. Many of the state’s Catholics schools, therefore, are receiving a windfall of taxpayer dollars while discriminating against transgender students and others by banning them from their schools based on their sexual and gender identities. </p> <p>The new policy implemented by the Archdiocese of Indianapolis explicitly uses religious beliefs to justify its discrimination. And taxpayer money is being used to prop these discriminatory policies. This is an attack on transgender students and the separation of church and state. </p> <p>In light of yesterday’s ruling, <a href="https://www.au.org/sites/default/files/2020-06/2020-06-30%20-%20How%20Espinoza%20v%20Montana%20Department%20of%20Revenue%20Will%20Undermine%20Civil%20Rights.pdf">we’ll see more of it</a> – unless legislators do the right thing and stop passing voucher plans.</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/government-support-of-religion" hreflang="en">Government Support Of Religion</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/government-funded-discrimination" hreflang="en">Government-Funded Discrimination</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/neo-vouchers" hreflang="en">neo-vouchers</a></div> </div> </div> Wed, 01 Jul 2020 14:49:57 +0000 boston 16261 at https://www.au.org Five Takeaways From Today’s Supreme Court Ruling On Vouchers https://www.au.org/blogs/montana-voucher-ruling <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Five Takeaways From Today’s Supreme Court Ruling On Vouchers</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, 06/30/2020 - 14:13</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/abandoned%20ps.jpg?h=787a7a88&amp;itok=5xhLtCVX" width="1700" height="525" alt="public school " title="abandoned school " typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>The U.S. Supreme Court this morning<a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/30/politics/espinoza-montana-religious-schools-scholarship-supreme-court/index.html"> </a><a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/30/politics/espinoza-montana-religious-schools-scholarship-supreme-court/index.html">issued an opinion</a> in an important church-state case called <em>Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue</em>. Ruling 5-4, the court held that the Montana Supreme Court was wrong when it invalidated a tax-credit voucher program because it included religious schools.</p> <p>Americans United attorneys are analyzing the decision, but here are five quick takeaways:</p> <p><strong><em>This ruling is a serious blow to church-state separation and religious liberty:</em></strong><em> </em>in his majority opinion, Chief Justice John G. Roberts rejected the notion that compelling taxpayers to support religious schools is a violation of an individual’s religious freedom rights. Rather, he asserted that when religious schools are denied access to certain taxpayer-funded programs, it is their religious freedom that’s being violated – a nonsensical claim that turns the very concept of religious freedom on its head.</p> <p><strong><em>The ruling exposes</em></strong><strong> <em>taxpayers to forced funding of discrimination:</em></strong><em> </em>Of the 12 private schools taking part in Montana’s program, 10 have discriminatory policies that they apply to students, teachers and staff. These policies either require adherence to a certain faith tradition and/or refuse admission to LGBTQ students or children with disabilities altogether. Taxpayers of Montana will now effectively be required to support these schools, unless Montana’s legislature takes action to prohibit Montana’s program from supporting schools that engage in discriminatory practices. Importantly, the decision does not address whether states that fund private education may deny funding to schools that have discriminatory admissions or employment policies, or whether it is constitutional for states to fund such discriminatory schools if they want to do so.</p> <p><strong><em>The ruling is further evidence that states must stop passing voucher plans:</em></strong><em> </em>The high court did not say that states must establish voucher plans, only that if a state does have one, religious schools must be included. There’s a lesson here for all of us: If you don’t want your tax money to support religious schools, make sure your legislators don’t pass voucher plans.</p> <p><strong><em>As bad as the decision is, it could have been much worse:</em></strong><em> </em>Justice Clarence M. Thomas reiterated his view that states should not have to abide by the church-state provisions of the First Amendment (or indeed the entire Bill of Rights.) In his concurring opinion, Thomas wrote that nothing in the Constitution should “prohibit States from favoring religion.” Thomas’ view remains an extreme outlier – for now. And Justices Samuel A. Alito and Neil Gorsuch strongly implied that they would have gladly wiped out completely provisions in more than 35 state constitutions that bar taxpayer funding of religion because they consider them to be anti-Catholic.</p> <p><strong><em>Judges make a difference:</em></strong> This decision would have gone the other way – or more likely the Supreme Court would have never even taken up the case – were it not for the presence of Trump appointees Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh on the bench. Remember, Supreme Court justices (and lower federal court judges) are appointed by the president and either confirmed or denied by the Senate. When you are voting for president and senators, you are in effect “electing” judges as well. It really matters, especially because the concurring opinions that some justices issued today made clear that they want to erode constitutional protections against forced tax funding of religious institutions even more than today’s decision does.</p> <p>Today’s decision is disappointing, but Americans United won’t waver from its historic mission of defending church-state separation, non-sectarian public education and the right to support only the religion, if any, that you choose.</p> <p>Our next steps are clear: We must redouble our efforts to stop private school voucher schemes and work even harder to ensure that public dollars are used only for public schools.</p> <p><a href="https://www.au.org/get-involved/donate/form">With your help</a>, that is precisely what we’ll do.</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/private-school-vouchers" hreflang="en">Private School Vouchers</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/taxpayer-funding-of-religion" hreflang="en">Taxpayer Funding 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-education" hreflang="en">public education</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/justice-clarence-thomas" hreflang="en">Justice Clarence Thomas</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/john-roberts" hreflang="en">John Roberts</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/supreme-court" hreflang="en">Supreme Court</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/samuel-alito" hreflang="en">Samuel Alito</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/neil-gorsuch" hreflang="en">Neil Gorsuch</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/brett-kavanaugh" hreflang="en">Brett Kavanaugh</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/espinoza-v-montana" hreflang="en">Espinoza v. Montana</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/montana" hreflang="en">Montana</a></div> </div> </div> Tue, 30 Jun 2020 18:13:22 +0000 boston 16259 at https://www.au.org Despite What Christian Nationalists Say, Americans Are Wary Of Reopening Houses Of Worship https://www.au.org/blogs/pandemic-church-poll <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Despite What Christian Nationalists Say, Americans Are Wary Of Reopening Houses Of Worship</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, 06/29/2020 - 11:25</span> <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/closed%20coronavirus%2C%203.31.20_0.jpg?h=58978e64&amp;itok=K420Yw3P" width="1700" height="525" alt="closed" title="closed sign" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>By Rebecca Rifkind-Brown</p> <p>Since the first outbreaks of the coronavirus in the United States a few months ago, houses of worship have been a site of contention as some religious leaders <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/may-2020-church-state-magazine/cover-story/church-state-and-coronavirus-a-worldwide">demanded that their services be exempt</a> from the public health orders that restricted large public gatherings.</p> <p>As the issue played out, numerous courts, including eventually the U.S. Supreme Court, ruled that government officials have the right to <a href="https://www.au.org/media/press-releases/supreme-court-protects-religious-freedom-public-health-by-allowing-california">restrict in-person meetings</a>, whether secular or religious.</p> <p>As many states have started to open up in the last few weeks and relax their restrictions, the number of coronavirus cases in many of those states has started to spike. Still, despite the increasing cases and public health risk, some religious leaders, backed by President Donald Trump, have pressured state governments to allow houses of worship to reopen for in-person services.</p> <p><a href="https://religionnews.com/2020/06/23/survey-most-americans-arent-comfortable-going-back-to-religious-services/">A recent study</a> by the conservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI), however, shows that most Americans are wary of this move, and despite what Christian nationalists may assert, the people are in no rush to return to in-person services. Even in congregations that now offer in-person services, 56% of the survey respondents said that they still chose to not attend.</p> <p>In fact, only a small population of Americans feel comfortable returning to their houses of worship. It is the same group of people who were attacking or, in some instances, ignoring stay-at-home orders that restricted large public gatherings at houses of worship: white evangelicals. According to the recent survey, 34% of white evangelicals felt very comfortable returning to services, 27% felt somewhat comfortable, 21% felt somewhat uncomfortable, and 16% very uncomfortable.</p> <p>The number of white evangelicals who felt comfortable attending in-person services marks a stark contrast to most other Christian denominations. Among Black Protestants, only 9% responded that they would feel very comfortable attending in-person church services, and 42% said that they would feel very uncomfortable. White and Hispanic Catholics responded similarly to Black Protestants, with the majority saying that they would be uncomfortable attending services.</p> <p>The differences in responses to the survey are reflective of partisan distinctions in this country. The AEI poll found that 72% of Democrats said they have at least some concerns that a member of their household will fall ill to coronavirus, but only 43% of Republicans shared that fear.  </p> <p>As states reopen and loosen their restrictions, it is important to remember that despite the urging from Christian nationalist groups, the majority of Americans still do not feel comfortable exposing themselves to large public gatherings where the risk of infection is heightened. They’d rather take the sensible course of skipping services or attending them remotely.  </p> <p>Americans United <a href="https://www.au.org/tags/protecting-religious-freedom-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic">continues to work</a> to ensure that religious organizations don’t receive special privileges during the pandemic that permit them to endanger public health. <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/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/donald-trump" hreflang="en">Donald Trump</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/polls" hreflang="en">polls</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/supreme-court" hreflang="en">Supreme Court</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/aei" hreflang="en">AEI</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/religious-right-0" hreflang="en">Religious Right</a></div> </div> </div> Mon, 29 Jun 2020 15:25:37 +0000 boston 16250 at https://www.au.org Five Years Later, Christian Nationalist Predictions About Marriage Equality Look Pretty Silly https://www.au.org/blogs/obergefell-at-five <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Five Years Later, Christian Nationalist Predictions About Marriage Equality Look Pretty Silly </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, 06/25/2020 - 10:18</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/about/people/rob-boston" hreflang="und">Rob Boston</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image"> <label>Image</label> <div class="item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/banner/public/images/blog_post/lesbian%20wedding.jpg?h=442cb677&amp;itok=Nn3HSa-g" width="1700" height="525" alt="wedding" title="country wedding" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>Tomorrow marks the fifth anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in <em><a href="https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/14pdf/14-556_3204.pdf">Obergefell v. Hodges</a></em>, a ruling that had the effect of extending marriage equality nationwide.</p> <p>Prior to the decision and after it came down, Religious Right groups made a number of claims about marriage equality, predicting dire consequences from the ruling.</p> <p>Five years have passed. How many of these predictions have come true? Let’s take a look:</p> <p><strong><em>Western civilization will collapse:</em></strong> In October 2014, Christian nationalist attorney Mat Staver told a right-wing radio show that if the Supreme Court were to uphold marriage equality, <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/december-2014-church-state/featured/apocalypse-now">the consequences would be devastating. </a> </p> <p>“This is something that I believe is the beginning of the end of Western Civilization,” Staver said. “You can’t simply redefine and pretend that ontological differences between men and women do not exist. This will have consequences.”</p> <p>Admittedly, Western Civilization has taken a bit of a hit lately – all civilization has. But that’s due to the coronavirus pandemic and a reckoning over systemic racism, not marriage equality. In the main, Western Civilization is still plugging along.</p> <p><strong><em>The American people will rebel:</em></strong><em> </em>As states began legalizing same-sex marriage and courts started striking down bans on it in 2013, Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, was certain the American people were going to rise up.</p> <p>“If you get government out of whack with where the people are and it goes too far, you create revolution,” <a href="https://www.rightwingwatch.org/post/perkins-revolution-possible-if-court-goes-too-far-on-marriage-equality-cases/">Perkins said while appearing on a right-wing radio show</a>. “I think you could see a social and cultural revolution if the court goes too far on this. [It] could literally split this nation in two and create such political and cultural turmoil that I’m not sure we could ever recover. …”</p> <p>Didn’t happen. Instead, the country underwent a fairly rapid shift in public opinion on the question of marriage equality. A number of polls now show support for it hitting the <a href="https://news.gallup.com/poll/257705/support-gay-marriage-stable.aspx">low to mid-60s</a>. Among millennials, support for marriage equality <a href="https://www.people-press.org/2013/03/20/growing-support-for-gay-marriage-changed-minds-and-changing-demographics/">is even higher</a> at 70 percent. Stick a fork in this one; it’s done.</p> <p><strong><em>Houses of worship will be forced to perform marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples:</em></strong><strong> </strong>When it became obvious that marriage equality was coming to Alabama, Eric Johnston, president of the right-wing Southeast Law Institute, hit the panic button.</p> <p>“There will be a lot of lawsuits over whether ministers have to do it,” <a href="https://www.al.com/living/2015/01/can_churches_be_forced_to_perf.html">Johnston blathered</a>. “It will be a clash between fundamental rights under the Constitution.”</p> <p>What nonsense. The flood of lawsuits never materialized, in part because it’s obvious that houses of worship have an ironclad right to decide to whom they will extend their sacraments and religious services. Nothing about that has changed since June 26, 2015. The number of houses of worship that have been compelled to allow same-sex couples to marry stands at zero.</p> <p><strong><em>Religious conservatives will be imprisoned:</em></strong><em> </em>James C. Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, seriously argued that people would be <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/september-2015-church-state/featured/mad-men">sent to prison</a> for refusing to accept marriage equality.</p> <p>“Many of us will be dragged into court to be prosecuted or subjected to civil judgments,” <a href="https://catholiccitizens.org/views/61167/i-fear-judgment-befalling-america/">Dobson groused in a column</a>. “… Some may go to prison as the years unfold.”</p> <p>Wrong again. No one is sitting behind bars for refusing to accept marriage equality. (Anti-LGBTQ Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis was briefly in jail, but that’s because she was <a href="https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/kentucky-clerk-kim-davis-held-contempt-court-n421126">found guilty of contempt of court</a>. Davis, a government official, defied court orders and refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples even after <em>Obergefell</em> had come down.)</p> <p><strong><em>Religious freedom will be obliterated:</em></strong><em> </em>After <em>Obergefell</em> was handed down, Bryan Fischer, a radio talk show host affiliated with the American Family Association, <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/september-2015-church-state/featured/mad-men">tweeted</a>: “Every advance of the gay agenda comes at the expense of religious liberty. As of today, free exercise is toast.”</p> <p>But the free exercise of religion is not toast – it’s not even scorched. In the post-<em>Obergefell</em> world, people remained free to meet in houses of worship for prayer and fellowship. Pastors who disliked the ruling had the ability to criticize it from the pulpit. No church had to admit LGBTQ members. Nothing changed. It’s true that secular, for-profit businesses were expected to follow state and local anti-discrimination laws and serve everyone equally – but that doesn’t stop anyone from worshipping as they please. It’s a strange definition of “religious freedom” that allows one person to treat another like a second-class citizen.</p> <p><strong><em>People will start marrying animals, microwave ovens, lakes, etc.</em></strong><strong>:</strong> U.S. Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-Texas) and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) were big fans of this <a href="https://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2013/04/republicans-predict-fraud-bestiality-if-gay-marriage-is-legalized">insipid talking point</a>. Some assertions are simply too stupid to merit a reply. This is one of them.</p> <p>Even as these claims were being made, we at Americans United were debunking them. They just aren’t true. Will the Christian nationalist groups that spread them take an honest look back five years later and admit they were wrong?</p> <p>Don’t hold your breath.</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-by-public-officials" hreflang="en">Discrimination by Public Officials</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/discrimination-in-the-name-of-religion" hreflang="en">Discrimination In The Name of Religion</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Tags</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/churches-and-gay-marriage" hreflang="en">churches and gay marriage</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/civil-marriage" hreflang="en">civil marriage</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/tony-perkins" hreflang="en">Tony Perkins</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/bryan-fischer" hreflang="en">Bryan Fischer</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/james-dobson" hreflang="en">James Dobson</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/focus-family" hreflang="en">Focus On The Family</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/frc-0" hreflang="en">FRC</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/afa" hreflang="en">AFA</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/kim-davis" hreflang="en">Kim Davis</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/supreme-court" hreflang="en">Supreme Court</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/rep-louie-gohmert" hreflang="en">Rep. Louie Gohmert</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/rick-santorum" hreflang="en">Rick Santorum</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/obergefell-v-hodges-0" hreflang="en">Obergefell v. Hodges</a></div> </div> </div> Thu, 25 Jun 2020 14:18:43 +0000 boston 16248 at https://www.au.org Americans Support LGBTQ Rights – But That Hasn’t Slowed The Trump Administration’s Attacks https://www.au.org/blogs/LGBTQ-polling-data <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Americans Support LGBTQ Rights – But That Hasn’t Slowed The Trump Administration’s Attacks</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, 06/24/2020 - 09:53</span> <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/pride%20parade%2C%206.24.20.jpg?h=ef813bff&amp;itok=Z1EVbDXY" width="1700" height="525" alt="pride" title="pride parade" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>By Rebecca Rifkind-Brown</p> <p>In recent years, the country has witnessed great advances in LGBTQ rights, most notably with the Supreme Court’s 2015 landmark decision in <em><a href="https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/14pdf/14-556_3204.pdf">Obergefell v. Hodges</a></em>, which ruled that marriage equality is protected by the Constitution.</p> <p>However, the biggest change over the last 20 years has been <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/lgbtq-backlash-supreme-court/2020/06/16/73410644-aff6-11ea-8758-bfd1d045525a_story.html">in public opinion toward LGBTQ rights</a>, not just in policy. A poll conducted by the Pew Research Center found that in 2001 only 35 percent of Americans supported marriage equality, and 57 percent were opposed to it. <a href="https://www.pewforum.org/fact-sheet/changing-attitudes-on-gay-marriage/">In 2019</a>, 61 percent supported it, and 31 percent were opposed. These numbers represent a dramatic change in public opinion on LGBTQ rights in the last two decades.</p> <p>Even though public opinion is shifting positively, President Donald Trump’s administration has sought to <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/december-2018-church-state/cover-story/reversal-of-fortune-lgbtq-rights-in-america">reverse the rights and protections</a> granted to members of the LGBTQ community.</p> <p>The Trump administration attacks on LGBTQ rights span all parts of life from the workplace to health care to education to housing. Most recently, the administration issued <a href="https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/06/12/868073068/transgender-health-protections-reversed-by-trump-administration">a final rule</a> that allows medical professionals to refuse to give services to transgender patients. Other incursions include Trump’s decision to ban all transgender people from <a href="https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/year-after-trans-military-ban-legal-battle-rages-n1181906">serving in the military</a>, as well as Secretary of Education Betsy Devos’s determination to steer taxpayer dollars to private religious schools through <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/june-2020-church-state-magazine/au-bulletin/au-criticizes-private-school-aid-in">voucher schemes</a>, even though many of these schools discriminate against LGBTQ students.</p> <p>The Trump administration has also aggressively pushed for the so-called right of business owners to deny services to members of the LGBTQ community and has even backed allowing taxpayer-funded “faith-based” institutions, such as foster care and adoption agencies, <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/april-2019-church-state-magazine/cover-story/fostering-discrimination-catholic-aimee">to refuse to work</a> with members of the LGBTQ community and others.  </p> <p>Essentially, what we’ve seen over the last few decades is that although the rise in public opinion supporting LGBTQ rights is necessary and important, policies and laws that implement change are the most decisive factor in creating real progress. Unfortunately, as support for LGBTQ rights increases among the population, this administration, at the behest of its Christian nationalist allies, is trying to turn the clock backward and limit these rights.</p> <p>The recent Supreme Court decision in <a href="https://www.au.org/media/press-releases/in-landmark-decision-for-lgbtq-equality-supreme-court-affirms-employment"><em>Bostock v. Clayton County</em></a>, affirming employment protections for LGBTQ people, represented an important step in the right direction, yet there are still many more areas in which the Trump administration is threatening to limit the rights of LGBTQ people.</p> <p>Public opinion is important, but it can only take us so far. Fighting discriminatory policies in court and working to block them in Congress and in state legislatures is crucial. Americans United does this important work every day. <a href="https://www.au.org/become-a-member">We’d love to have your help!</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/trump-administration" hreflang="en">Trump Administration</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/polls" hreflang="en">polls</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/foster-care" hreflang="en">foster care</a></div> </div> </div> Wed, 24 Jun 2020 13:53:58 +0000 boston 16247 at https://www.au.org Franklin Graham Thinks Science And Religion Must Fight. As Usual, He’s Wrong https://www.au.org/blogs/Franklin-Graham-Science <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Franklin Graham Thinks Science And Religion Must Fight. As Usual, He’s Wrong</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, 06/23/2020 - 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/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/Women%20Science.jpg?h=feed4c90&amp;itok=tGKZ4UzP" width="1700" height="525" alt="Women scientists in lab" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>Despite what some people may think, the coronavirus pandemic remains a serious threat. We’re seeing a <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2020/06/22/this-is-a-pivotal-week-for-texas-florida-as-coronavirus-cases-spike.html">spike in cases</a> in some states that rushed to reopen, and public health officials are warning about another wave of in infections this fall.</p> <p>Nevertheless, some continue to ignore recommendations about wearing masks and taking other common-sense precautions.</p> <p>What causes such recalcitrance? Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AFA8u_8bx_I&amp;feature=youtu.be">was asked about this recently by CNN</a>. Fauci was blunt: Some Americans simply reject science.</p> <p>“One of the problems we face in the United States is that unfortunately, there is a combination of an anti-science bias that people are – for reasons that sometimes are, you know, inconceivable and not understandable – they just don’t believe science and they don’t believe authority.”</p> <p>Fauci added, “So when they see someone up in the White House, which has an air of authority to it, who’s talking about science, that there are some people who just don’t believe that, and that’s unfortunate because, you know, science is truth.”</p> <p>Predictably, Fauci’s comments set off evangelist Franklin Graham, who refuses to accept the idea that science leads to truth because that conflicts with Graham’s fundamentalist beliefs that only his narrow interpretation of the Bible can do that.</p> <p>On Facebook, Graham listed some examples where scientists failed to agree and then reeled off this gem: “And, man did not evolve from apes. … That’s just not true – God created man and woman as the Bible says.”</p> <p>One of the most frustrating things about creationists like Graham is that they presume to lecture the rest of us about evolution when it’s obvious they don’t know the first thing about it. Evolution does not say that humankind evolved from apes, rather than apes and humans share a <a href="https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/fossil-reveals-what-last-common-ancestor-of-humans-and-apes-looked-liked/">common ancestor</a>. This is the sort of thing you learn in Biology 101 in any half-decent university. Was Graham asleep that day?</p> <p>Furthermore, the idea that science is perpetually at war with religion and that one must choose sides is a tiresome trope embraced by fundamentalists. Most religious people long ago reconciled their faith with modern science. For many believers, God gave us intellect and reason precisely so that we can discover things about the world around us.</p> <p>Finally, the fact that scientists sometimes disagree about a certain topic is a sign of health and vitality in that discipline, not a weakness. Eventually, the scientific method, including the use of double-blind experiments, leads to a consensus. It’s all right for a scientist to challenge a prevailing theory, but he or she had better be able to produce some research and back it up with experiments that can be replicated by others under the same conditions – or those ideas will fall by the wayside.</p> <p>Fauci is right about resistance to science being an undercurrent in American society. It isn’t always motivated by fundamentalist religious beliefs but often is. We see this a lot from Christian nationalists who want to force public schools to teach unscientific, religion-based curricula, such as biblical creation stories in science classes or abstinence-only sex education in health classes.</p> <p>Americans United continues to protect against efforts to insert anti-science religious beliefs into our public policies and our public schools – <a href="https://www.au.org/become-a-member">join us</a>!</p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issues field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Issues</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/religious-freedom" hreflang="en">Religious Freedom</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/government-support-of-religion" hreflang="en">Government Support Of Religion</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/protecting-religious-freedom-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic" hreflang="en">Protecting Religious Freedom During the Coronavirus Pandemic</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/franklin-graham" hreflang="en">Franklin Graham</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/creationism" hreflang="en">Creationism</a></div> </div> </div> Tue, 23 Jun 2020 15:51:16 +0000 LHayes 16246 at https://www.au.org I'm Proud To Spend My Summer Helping Americans United Stand Up For Equality https://www.au.org/blogs/AU-legal-intern <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">I&#039;m Proud To Spend My Summer Helping Americans United Stand Up For Equality</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, 06/22/2020 - 10:08</span> <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/supreme%20court%20statue%2C%206.22.20.jpg?h=0d74f2ac&amp;itok=oVYe1aDi" width="1700" height="525" alt="Supreme Court" title="US Supreme Court" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>By Kalli Joslin</p> <p>I first learned of Americans United during my senior year of college. My now-fiancée and I were neck-deep in debates with the college president, who was considering allowing an evangelical Christian student organization to categorically ban LGBTQ+ students from leadership positions in their club. The issue was personal to me as a queer, Christian woman – I am living proof that those identities can co-exist, so it infuriated me that other Christians were attempting to twist my faith in order to discriminate against me and others like me.</p> <p>My fiancée reached out to AU for advice, and the conversations we had with Policy Advocate Samantha Sokol (shout out!) helped us ultimately prevail. The college president announced after almost a year of deliberation that <em>all</em> student organizations must abide by the school’s non-discrimination policy, which includes sexual orientation and gender identity as protected categories.</p> <p>Now, having a year at Georgetown Law under my belt, I have an even stronger understanding of how some people distort religious freedom in ways that harm others. Recently, houses of worship in multiple states have been seeking to defy stay-at-home orders in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m proud of AU’s work to combat these challenges, and I’m especially glad to see that the Supreme Court agrees: restricting <em>all</em> in-person gatherings, religious and secular, to limit the spread of a deadly pandemic is not an attack on the right to freely exercise religion.</p> <p>Even more recently, the Supreme Court held that federal employment anti-discrimination laws extend to protect sexual orientation and gender identity. My fiancée and I are both working from home this summer, so we were together when the ruling was announced. We got to dance, kiss and hold our cat while we told her that her moms have new civil rights. (She was very proud.)</p> <p>But there’s still plenty of work to be done. This summer, I’ve already started doing research for AU’s amicus brief in the upcoming Supreme Court case <em><a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/april-2020-church-state-magazine/au-bulletin/supreme-court-to-hear-pa-foster-care-case">Fulton v. City of Philadelphia,</a></em> which could allow religious foster care agencies to reject same-sex couples who wish to be foster parents. On the four-year mark of the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orlando_nightclub_shooting">Pulse massacre</a>, the Department of Health and Human Services also <a href="https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/06/12/868073068/transgender-health-protections-reversed-by-trump-administration">issued a rule</a> rescinding protections for LGBTQ+ people seeking health care, allowing medical providers to withhold care on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Meanwhile, millions of Americans are unemployed due to COVID-19 and LGBTQ+ Americans (especially trans women of color) are highly susceptible to hate-based violence, emphasizing the need for affordable, accessible and affirming health care for all.</p> <p>The harmful HHS rule is just one example of why we urgently need comprehensive, enforceable non-discrimination laws. Discrimination in areas like health care, education, public accommodations, and housing is <em>killing</em> members of the LGBTQ+ community. Defending such discrimination on religious grounds is not only antithetical to a society that values religious pluralism and equality but also disregards the core doctrines of love and acceptance found in almost every major religion.</p> <p>It’s important to note that non-discrimination laws alone are not enough to solve the larger patterns of discrimination and prejudice in our country. The protests mobilizing around the country following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and countless others are proof that entire systems need to change or fall in order to realize equality among all.</p> <p>In the face of these overwhelming challenges, my contributions this summer will be small in comparison. But if my voice is able to make a difference for the thousands of children in foster care – many of whom are Black, disabled, and/or LGBTQ+, or help put an end to the unfair denial of medical care based on sexual orientation or gender identity – then this work will have been worth it.</p> <p>I’m so proud to be at AU this summer, and I look forward to continuing the fight for equality in the coming months and beyond.</p> <p><em>Kalli Joslin is working as a litigation intern at Americans United this summer. </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/discrimination-in-health-care" hreflang="en">Discrimination In Health Care</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/supreme-court" hreflang="en">Supreme Court</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/foster-care" hreflang="en">foster care</a></div> <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, 22 Jun 2020 14:08:27 +0000 boston 16245 at https://www.au.org Here’s Some Good News About The Teaching Of Evolution In Public Schools https://www.au.org/blogs/teaching-evolution-upswing <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Here’s Some Good News About The Teaching Of Evolution In Public Schools </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, 06/19/2020 - 13:26</span> <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/teaching%20evo.jpg?h=f2d0d0f9&amp;itok=WWYrTKrN" width="1700" height="525" alt="evolution " title="teaching " typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>By Rebecca Rifkind-Brown</p> <p>The teaching of evolution in public school biology classes has, unfortunately, been a long-standing controversy in the United States, as religious fundamentalists who believe in creationism seek to water down instruction about Charles Darwin’s scientific discoveries.</p> <p>But here’s some good news: Recently, <a href="https://ncse.ngo/research">a new survey was released</a>, conducted by Eric Plutzer at Penn State and commissioned by Americans United’s allies at the National Center for Science Education, which shows the improvements public schools have made in the last decade to improve education in this area.</p> <p>The survey, conducted in 2019, updated data from a similar 2007 survey (also completed by Plutzer), which found that “only one about one in three public high school biology teachers presented evolution consistently with the recommendations of the nation’s leading scientific authorities.” The 2007 data also showed that “13% of teachers emphasized to their students that creationism was a valid scientific alternative to modern evolutionary biology.” These conclusions were extremely troubling as we seek to make sure that public schools value and emphasize scientific discovery, while also separating religious beliefs from those of scientific principles.  </p> <p>Plutzer’s new report, however, shows steady improvements in the teaching of evolution over the last decade. The 2019 survey found “substantial reductions in overtly creationist instruction and in the number of teachers who send mixed messages that legitimate creationism as a valid scientific alternative to evolutionary biology.”</p> <p>This is good news for anyone who supports the separation of church and state, as it is imperative that teachers at public schools funded with taxpayer dollars don’t spend time imposing their religious beliefs on students. It is also critical that students are receiving a well-rounded education in science, covering the most important discoveries, including evolution.</p> <p>The 2019 survey analyzed data from 752 public high school biology teachers. It found that over the last decade, teachers are overall spending more time teaching evolution. In 2007, the average amount of time spent on evolution was 9.8 hours, and in 2019 it was 12.4 hours. This is an impressive increase of 25 percent. In addition, in 2007, 51 percent of high school biology teachers “emphasized the consensus on evolution while giving no credence to creationism.” By 2019, these numbers rose to 67 percent.</p> <p>Plutzer concluded that the increase in the teaching of evolution can in part be attributed to the adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards, which emphasize evolution as a critical concept in life sciences, as well as pre-service teacher education and in-service teacher professional development.</p> <p>Although some public schools still have more work to do to ensure that all biology teachers are teaching evolution and separating scientific ideas from those of religion, the 2019 survey provides evidence that our schools are moving in the right direction to implement these necessary improvements.    </p> <p> </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/school-sponsored-prayer" hreflang="en">School-Sponsored Prayer</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/science" hreflang="en">Science</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/public-education" hreflang="en">public education</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/ncse" hreflang="en">NCSE</a></div> </div> </div> Fri, 19 Jun 2020 17:26:07 +0000 boston 16244 at https://www.au.org White Evangelical Support For Trump: What Lies Beneath? https://www.au.org/blogs/posner-unholy-trump <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">White Evangelical Support For Trump: What Lies Beneath?</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">Thu, 06/18/2020 - 10:50</span> <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/Trump%20at%20St.%20Johns%20CSPAN.png?h=e93c6479&amp;itok=Y79Bjmo7" width="1700" height="525" alt="Trump waves Bible at St. John&#039;s Church" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>By Sarah Posner</p> <table> <tbody> <tr> <td> <p><em>Editor’s Note: Today we are pleased to run an excerpt from Sarah Posner’s new book, </em><a href="https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/605774/unholy-by-sarah-posner/">Unholy: Why White Evangelicals Worship at the Altar of Donald Trump</a>.<em> Copyright 2020. Reprinted with permission of Random House.</em></p> <p>The facile explanation for the apparently improbable union between the proponents of “faith,” “values,” and “family” and the profoundly impious real estate huckster and serial philanderer is that the Christian right hypocritically sacrificed its principles in exchange for raw political power. But this purely transactional explanation for the Trump-evangelical merger elides the deeper bond between Trump and his devoted flock.</p> </td> <td><img alt="Sarah Posner's book Unholy" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="c1f8295c-bbee-4678-882b-328e038fd4fa" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/unholy posner.jpg" /></td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p>Although Trump is illiterate in evangelicals’ lexicon and spent his adult life flagrantly contravening their sexual mores, his evangelical supporters are nonetheless starstruck. He may not be one of them, but they idolize how he loudly and fearlessly articulates their shared grievances – that alien anti-Christian, anti-American ideologies have taken over the government, judiciary, media, education, and even popular culture and forced edicts upon a besieged white Christian majority, cowing them into submission by invoking “political correctness” that aims to censor, silence, and oppress them.</p> <p>The Trump-evangelical relationship represents an intense meeting of the minds, decades in the making, on the notion that America lies in ruins after the sweep of historic changes since the mid-twentieth century, promising nondiscrimination and equal rights for those who had been historically disenfranchised – women, racial minorities, immigrants, refugees, and LGBTQ people – eroded the dominance of conservative white Christianity in American public life. Trump apparently has not cracked the binding on the Bible he waves in the air while speaking to evangelical audiences, but he fluently speaks the language of conservative white Christian backlash against the expansion of rights for previously disenfranchised and marginalized Americans. Trump not only gives voice to the Christian right’s perceived loss of religious dominance; he pounds away at grievances over white people losing ground to black and brown people and immigrants, of men losing ground to women, of “originalist” judges under the sway of liberal intruders demanding “special” rights. Trump reassures white evangelical voters that he will restore the America they believe has been lost – the “Christian nation” that God intended America to be, governed by what they claim is “biblical law” or a “Christian worldview.”</p> <p>The evangelical adoration for Trump is rooted in far more than his willingness to keep a coveted list of campaign promises, like appointing anti-abortion judges or expanding religious exemptions for conservative Christians, such as bakers who refuse to make a cake for a gay wedding. Trump inspires this high regard because he is eager to use strongman tactics in order to carry out those promises. For decades, the Christian right has successfully used the mechanisms of democracy, such as voter registration and mobilization, citizen lobbying, and energetic recruitment of religious candidates to run for office, to advance its agenda. In these efforts, conservative evangelicals are driven not by a commitment to liberal democracy but rather by a politicized theology demanding that they seize control of government to protect it from the demonic influences of liberalism and secularism. Previous presidents pandered to evangelicals, but Donald Trump constitutes the culmination of a movement that has for decades searched for a leader willing to join forces in this battle without cowering to shifting political winds. In Trump, the Christian right sees more than a politician who delivers on promises; they see a savior from the excesses of liberalism.</p> <p>Although white evangelicals constitute far from a majority of Americans, the president’s bottomless support for them has enabled the Christian right to dictate administration policy, creating a tyranny of the minority that they see as a divine assignment and a last chance to save America. Trump’s white evangelical supporters, then, have chosen to see him not as a sinner but as a strongman, not as a con man but as a king who is courageously unshackling them from what they portray as liberal oppression.</p> <p>That means that dissenters – including their own evangelical brothers and sisters – are demeaned, dismissed, and ostracized for their insufficient loyalty to Trump, the pagan king. Longtime evangelical insiders who raise objections to Trump’s candidacy, or who question their brethren’s eventual genuflection to him, have been cast aside by powerful players in the pro-Trump evangelical world, left struggling to understand exactly what has happened to a community that was once their spiritual, cultural, and political home.</p> <p>Midway through Trump’s first term, one of his most enthusiastic evangelical backers, Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist, a Dallas megachurch, called anti-Trump evangelicals “spineless morons” on Fox News personality Todd Starnes’s radio program. By that time, such disdain for Trump’s evangelical detractors had become so entrenched that Jeffress’s insult was barely noticed as anything unusual.</p> <p>(<em>Banner photo: Screenshot of President Trump waving a Bible in front of St. John's Episcopal Church from C-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/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/donald-trump" hreflang="en">Donald Trump</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/sarah-posner" hreflang="en">Sarah Posner</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/christian-nation-myth" hreflang="en">Christian nation myth</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/religious-right-0" hreflang="en">Religious Right</a></div> </div> </div> Thu, 18 Jun 2020 14:50:50 +0000 LHayes 16243 at https://www.au.org