The Wall of Separation Blog https://www.au.org/blogs/feed en Americans Really Don’t Want Houses Of Worship To Endorse Candidates https://www.au.org/blogs/no-pulpit-politicking <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Americans Really Don’t Want Houses Of Worship To Endorse Candidates</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, 11/20/2019 - 09:47</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/pulpit%20cropped.jpg?h=330bb66a&amp;itok=b-jIpIZo" width="1700" height="525" alt="pulpit " title="pulpit " typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>The Pew Research Center recently <a href="https://www.pewforum.org/2019/11/15/americans-have-positive-views-about-religions-role-in-society-but-want-it-out-of-politics/?utm_source=adaptivemailer&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=19-11-15%20trust%20&amp;%20religion%20in%20public%20life&amp;org=982&amp;lvl=100&amp;ite=4950&amp;lea=1127118&amp;ctr=0&amp;par=1&amp;trk=">released a new poll</a> about Americans’ views on the role religion plays in society. As usual, there’s a lot to digest, but one thing comes through loud and clear: Americans do not want houses of worship to meddle in partisan politics.</p> <p>A whopping 76 percent of Americans say houses of worship should not endorse or oppose candidates during elections. This figure is in line with <a href="http://projectfairplay.org/polls">other polls</a> that show strong opposition to politicized churches.</p> <p>The poll also found that most Americans reject the notion that houses of worship have too little influence over politics. Only 28 percent agree with that statement, while 37 percent believe that houses of worship have too much influence, and 34 percent say that the amount of influence houses of worship have now is about right.</p> <p>Results like this are important because they debunk one of President Donald Trump’s claims about the intersection of religion and politics. Trump seems to believe that Americans are clamoring for religious leaders to have the power to hand down lists of political endorsements from the pulpit. In fact, this is the last thing most Americans want. (Some polls show that opposition to pulpit politicking is <a href="https://www.nae.net/pastors-shouldnt-endorse-politicians/">even higher</a> among certain religious leaders. )</p> <p>A federal law known as the Johnson Amendment protects the integrity of houses of worship and other nonprofit groups by keeping them out of partisan politics. Under the law, tax-exempt, nonprofit groups may not intervene in elections by endorsing or opposing candidates for public office.</p> <p>In May 2017, Trump issued an executive order that he insists did away with the Johnson Amendment. The order did no such thing. It was mere verbiage. The Johnson Amendment is a federal law; it can’t be wiped off the books with a mere stroke of Trump’s pen.</p> <p>Trump continues to repeat this lie, even though <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/the-johnson-amendment-is-still-in-effect-the-trump-administration-admits">Americans United</a> and several media outlets <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/05/09/president-trumps-shifting-claim-that-we-got-rid-johnson-amendment/">have called him on it</a>. He might want to reconsider this strategy. While attacking the Johnson Amendment may play well with Trump’s Christian nationalist base, this new poll shows that just about everyone else hates the idea – as well they should.</p> <p>P.S. In August 2017, Americans United and its allies rallied more than 4,500 faith leaders <a href="https://static1.squarespace.com/static/590789143e00be8692d38a5c/t/59935d5edb29d634de186d30/1502829921769/FinalLetter_HOUSE_header.PDF">to sign a letter</a> to Congress expressing support for the Johnson Amendment. Thanks to work like this, efforts to water down or repeal the amendment <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/february-2019-church-state-magazine/featured/johnson-amendment-undestroyed-trump-vowed">have failed</a>. <a href="https://www.au.org/become-a-member">Your support</a> helps us fight to keep partisan politics out of America’s houses of worship. </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/churches-and-elections" hreflang="en">Churches and Elections</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Tags</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/johnson-amendment" hreflang="en">Johnson Amendment</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/congress" hreflang="en">Congress</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/pew-research" hreflang="en">Pew Research</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/donald-trump" hreflang="en">Donald Trump</a></div> </div> </div> Wed, 20 Nov 2019 14:47:05 +0000 boston 15879 at https://www.au.org Ohio’s ‘Student Religious Liberties’ Bill Doesn't Protect Rights -- It Violates Them https://www.au.org/blogs/ohio-religion-bill <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Ohio’s ‘Student Religious Liberties’ Bill Doesn&#039;t Protect Rights -- It Violates Them</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, 11/19/2019 - 12:28</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/about/people/nik-nartowicz" hreflang="en">Nik Nartowicz</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image"> <label>Image</label> <div class="item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/banner/public/images/blog_post/classroom%20kids%20.jpg?h=3a47722f&amp;itok=ceAInbJz" width="1700" height="525" alt="classroom" title="classroom" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>Last week, the Ohio House of Representatives passed <a href="https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/legislation/legislation-summary?id=GA133-HB-164">HB 164</a>, a bill that is designed to encourage students to pray and proselytize in public schools. AU opposes this bill because parents should feel comfortable sending their children to public schools and not fear that they will be preached to or forced to pray according to someone else’s faith tradition. It’s a simple concept that is fundamental to religious freedom.</p> <p><a href="https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/legislation/legislation-summary?id=GA133-HB-164">HB 164</a> is a so-called “student religious liberties” bill, which would authorize religious expression that goes well beyond what is permissible under the Constitution. Bills like HB 164 are unnecessary and actually add more confusion than clarity.</p> <p>Because current law already protects the rights of students engaging in religious expression, these bills only serve to promote religion in public schools. Public school students may engage in truly voluntary prayer, read the Bible in a non-disruptive way and form religious clubs that meet after school – but it has to be their choice. They can also talk to fellow students about religion, so long as it isn’t harassing. But public schools may not pressure students to engage in prayer or other religious activities. Parents and students should make their own decisions about religion.</p> <p>Bill sponsor Rep. Timothy Ginter (R-Salem) claims that HB 164 is about <a href="https://www.news5cleveland.com/news/state/religious-freedom-bill-would-make-wrong-answers-acceptable-in-ohio-schools-critics-say">clarifying the rights of students</a> to express their religious beliefs in public school. But instead of clarifying the law, the bill adds more confusion. HB 164 is misleading because it doesn’t include necessary constitutional limitations on proselytization in classrooms or at school events. Student religious expression cannot be coercive or disrupt class time, and students may not utilize the classroom to proselytize their fellow students.</p> <p>The bill, however, says that religious expression would have to be treated the same as nonreligious expression. But there is a constitutionally significant difference between one student making a persuasive speech about global climate change and another student making a speech stating that all students must accept Jesus Christ in order to achieve salvation. Yet, the bill would treat both situations the same. HB 164 would also mean that a student could proselytize at every assembly, lead a prayer during every graduation ceremony or introduce varsity football games with a prayer – situations where other students are a captive audience that would be coerced to participate in religious exercise.</p> <p>There is also confusion about how the bill will affect student assignments. The bill says that teachers “shall not penalize or reward a student based on the religious content of a student's work.” Both the ACLU of Ohio and Ohio House Democrats <a href="https://www.cleveland.com/open/2019/11/ohio-lawmakers-clear-bill-allowing-students-to-turn-in-inaccurate-work-in-name-of-religion-second-anti-science-bill-in-a-week.html">have pointed out</a> that this provision would allow students to turn in science homework with biblical answers – so a student could turn in biology homework that says the earth is 10,000 years old. Ginter disagrees with that interpretation and points to the portion of the bill that says grades “shall be calculated using ordinary academic standards of substance and relevance.” Ginter argues that the bill does not allow students to “<a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2019/11/15/does-bill-just-passed-by-ohio-house-allow-students-be-wrong-science-class-without-penalty-if-they-cite-religious-reasons/">ignore the class material</a>.”</p> <p>If lawmakers and policy experts can’t agree on what the bill means, you can be sure that public school teachers, principals and other school employees will be confused by what is and isn’t allowed. If a confused teacher allows students to violate the law, families whose religious freedom has been violated will likely have no choice but to challenge the schools in court. Such litigation can be costly to school districts and taxpayers.</p> <p>Americans United supports students’ right to engage in student-initiated and student-led, voluntary prayer – but we must ensure that it doesn’t infringe on the rights of other students. Because Ohio students practice a variety of religions and faiths, and those with different or no religious beliefs shouldn’t feel forced to pray, pressured to adopt religious beliefs, or encouraged to engage in religious activities – in violation of their religious freedom. The Ohio Senate should do what it has the last several sessions and reject this bill.</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/official-prayer-public-school" hreflang="en">official prayer in public school</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/public-school-prayer" hreflang="en">Public School Prayer</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/creationism" hreflang="en">Creationism</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/ohio" hreflang="en">Ohio</a></div> </div> </div> Tue, 19 Nov 2019 17:28:59 +0000 boston 15877 at https://www.au.org The Supreme Court Is Considering Forcing You To Fund Religious Education https://www.au.org/blogs/Montana-voucher-case <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">The Supreme Court Is Considering Forcing You To Fund Religious Education</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/95" lang="" about="/user/95" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">boston</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Mon, 11/18/2019 - 11:11</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/about/people/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%20in%20classroom_0.jpg?h=30221d13&amp;itok=gz_U0HEj" width="1700" height="525" alt="Bble in classroom" title="desk " typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>One of the most important things that separation of religion and government does is ensure that Americans are free to give financial support only to the faiths of their choosing – or support none at all.</p> <p>That’s the ideal, anyway. Sadly, the Supreme Court has been drifting away from that principle, and during this term, the high court might even rule that under certain circumstances, taxpayers can be <em>compelled</em> to support religious schools.</p> <p><a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/october-2019-church-state-magazine/cover-story/from-no-aid-to-must-aid-a-pending-us">In a pending case</a>, <em>Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue</em>, the justices will consider an appeal of a ruling handed down in December 2018 by the Montana Supreme Court.</p> <p>The state high court struck down a private school voucher program that used tax credits to divert public funds to private religious schools, finding that it violated the clear language of the Montana Constitution, which protects religious freedom by barring “direct or indirect appropriation or payment from any public fund or monies … for any sectarian purpose or to aid any church, school, academy, seminary, college, university, or other literary or scientific institution, controlled in whole or in part by any church, sect, or denomination.”</p> <p>Religious freedom protection language like this is found in three-quarters of the state constitutions. It’s designed to ensure that no one is taxed, directly or indirectly, to pay for someone else’s religion.</p> <p>Opposition to church taxes, no matter what they may be called or what form they may take, has a long history in the United States. As James Madison <a href="https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Madison/01-08-02-0163">once argued</a>, if the government can force you to pay even a minuscule amount to support religion, it can compel you to conform in other ways.</p> <p>“Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other Religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other Sects?” Madison wrote in 1785. “That the same authority which can force a citizen to contribute three pence only of his property for the support of any one establishment, may force him to conform to any other establishment in all cases whatsoever?”</p> <p>In a <a href="https://www.au.org/media/au-scotus-brief-in-espinoza-v-montana-dor-111519">legal brief</a> filed before the U.S. Supreme Court last week, Americans United joined forces with <a href="https://www.au.org/media/press-releases/americans-united-joined-by-17-religious-freedom-and-civil-rights-groups-urges">17 other civil rights and religious freedom organizations</a> to urge the high court to respect the traditional American principle of private support for religion.</p> <p>“The founders believed that it was critical to protect individuals’ freedom of conscience against the coercive extraction of tax funds to support religion,” observes the brief. “They also thought it vital to shield religion and religious institutions from the deleterious effects of governmental support and interference: dependency of religious institutions on the state, compromise of religious beliefs, and strife among religious denominations. They therefore exhorted against public subsidies for religious ministries – including religious education, which is not only a vital function of religious ministries but also essential to generating adherents and maintaining those ministries over time and across communities.”</p> <p>There are many reasons to oppose the diversion of taxpayer money to religious schools. The institutions, for example, are often saturated with a particular form of theology throughout the entire curriculum. They may teach creationism in lieu of modern science or faulty “Christian nation” views of American history.</p> <p>In addition, many religious schools engage in blatant forms of discrimination. They may refuse to admit students who are LGBTQ, nontheists or religious minorities. Many apply similar religious litmus tests to faculty and staff. Unlike public schools, which are open to all, religious schools serve a private interest.</p> <p>Finally, any diversion of taxpayer money to religious schools threatens the public education system. Public schools serve 90 percent of America’s children. They ought to be our priority when it comes to allocating taxpayer funding.</p> <p>All of these reasons are important, but at the end of the day, this is an issue of freedom of conscience. Our founders understood that no one should be forced to support religion against his or her will. It’s one of the primary reasons why they built church-state separation into the First Amendment. The Supreme Court must not abandon this vital principle.</p> <p><a href="https://www.au.org/become-a-member">With your help</a>, Americans United will continue to advocate for your right to support religion – or not – as you see fit.</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/taxpayer-funding-of-religion" hreflang="en">Taxpayer Funding Of Religion</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/schools" hreflang="en">Schools</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/private-school-vouchers" hreflang="en">Private School Vouchers</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Tags</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/supreme-court" hreflang="en">Supreme Court</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/montana" hreflang="en">Montana</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/james-madison" hreflang="en">James Madison</a></div> </div> </div> Mon, 18 Nov 2019 16:11:22 +0000 boston 15876 at https://www.au.org It’s Time To Fix An Important Religious Freedom Law https://www.au.org/blogs/fix-RFRA-now <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">It’s Time To Fix An Important Religious Freedom Law</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/95" lang="" about="/user/95" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">boston</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Fri, 11/15/2019 - 10:20</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/people%20praying%20in%20church%2C%2011.15.19.jpg?h=ab29c3c2&amp;itok=Ui2mMEc7" width="1700" height="525" alt="praying in church" title="church " typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>Twenty-six years ago tomorrow, President Bill Clinton signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) into law. It was a piece of legislation born of good intentions that has since been twisted into something it was never meant to be – and it’s time to fix it.</p> <p>Some background: RFRA came about because of a Supreme Court ruling from 1990 called<a href="https://www.oyez.org/cases/1989/88-1213"> </a><em><a href="https://www.oyez.org/cases/1989/88-1213">Employment Division v. Smith</a></em>. In that case, the high court abruptly jettisoned several decades of existing precedent governing religious freedom cases and substituted a new standard, one that, to many groups, seemed to be unduly harsh and restrictive – especially as it applied to the religious expression of minority faiths. (Indeed, the <em>Smith</em> case centered on traditional Native American rituals.)</p> <p>RFRA was designed to bring back the old standard the court had used for many years – that’s why it has “restoration” in its name. The bill was never intended to create new rights or legal rules. And for many years, it did what it was supposed to do: preserve the free exercise of religion as a valued right of the American people.</p> <p>RFRA was signed into law with bipartisan support. Back in 1993, no one ever thought the law would give one person – or even a for-profit corporation –  the power to take away another’s rights or cause that person harm.</p> <p>As passed, RFRA applied to the federal government and the states. In the 1997 case<a href="https://www.oyez.org/cases/1996/95-2074"> </a><em><a href="https://www.oyez.org/cases/1996/95-2074">City of Boerne v. Flores</a></em>, the Supreme Court limited its enforcement to the federal government only. In the years that followed, two unfortunate things happened: Some courts interpreted the federal version of RFRA in ways its original supporters never intended, and some states passed their own versions of “religious freedom” laws that went way beyond the original intention of RFRA.</p> <p>Although RFRA is still sometimes used in ways that genuinely protect religious minorities, <a> </a>it is now too often exploited to justify discrimination and other harms to others. The misuse of RFRA has dramatically escalated during the Trump years, and the law is being cited to justify various forms of discrimination. This must stop.</p> <p>It’s time to fix this law. The good news is, there’s a way to do it. The Do No Harm Act, introduced by U.S. Reps. Joseph P. Kennedy III (D-Mass.) and Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-Va.) in the House, and by U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) in the Senate, would amend RFRA in a manner that would ensure that the law continues to provide important protections for religious exercise but clarify that the law may not be used to harm others.</p> <p>AU President and CEO Rachel Laser testified in favor of the Do No Harm Act before a congressional committee this June. You can<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7C17DN4_Js"> </a><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7C17DN4_Js">watch her testimony here</a>. You can also<a href="https://www.au.org/tags/do-no-harm-act"> </a><a href="https://www.au.org/tags/do-no-harm-act">learn more about the Do No Harm Act</a> and why it’s imperative that we pass it – and how you can help.</p> <p>The Do No Harm Act will return RFRA to its original purpose – making it clear that religious freedom is a shield that protects the individual, not a sword that lashes out at others. It’s time to pass this critical piece of legislation.</p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issues field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Issues</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/discrimination-in-the-name-of-religion" hreflang="en">Discrimination In The Name of Religion</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/government-funded-discrimination" hreflang="en">Government-Funded Discrimination</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/employment-discrimination" hreflang="en">Employment Discrimination</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/religious-freedom" hreflang="en">Religious Freedom</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/religious-minorities-rights" hreflang="en">Religious Minorities&#039; Rights</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Tags</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/bill-clinton" hreflang="en">Bill Clinton</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/rfra-0" hreflang="en">RFRA</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/rep-bobby-scott" hreflang="en">Rep. Bobby Scott</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/joseph-kennedy" hreflang="en">Joseph Kennedy</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/do-no-harm-act" hreflang="en">Do No Harm Act</a></div> </div> </div> Fri, 15 Nov 2019 15:20:09 +0000 boston 15874 at https://www.au.org Moscow (The One In Idaho) Targeted For Takeover By Fundamentalist Church https://www.au.org/blogs/moscow-idaho-takeover <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Moscow (The One In Idaho) Targeted For Takeover By Fundamentalist Church</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/95" lang="" about="/user/95" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">boston</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Thu, 11/14/2019 - 11:35</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/Moscow%20welcome%2C%2011.14.19%203.png?h=0478bf81&amp;itok=GF-6TdSK" width="1700" height="525" alt="Moscow Idaho" title="Moscow " typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>Folks who live in the university town of Moscow, Idaho, had better sit up and take notice: a far-right fundamentalist pastor with extreme and intolerant views wants to take over your town.</p> <p>Religion News Service (RNS) <a href="https://religionnews.com/2019/11/05/douglas-wilsons-spiritual-takeover-plan-roils-idaho-college-town/">reported recently</a> that Pastor Douglas Wilson of Christ Church of Moscow is planning a “spiritual takeover” of the city of about 25,000 residents.</p> <p>“Our desire is to make Moscow a Christian town,” reads a statement on the church’s website. “[T]hrough genuine cultural engagement that provides Christian leadership in the arts, in business, in education, in politics, and in literature.”</p> <p>Right off the bat, we need to be clear about one thing: Wilson’s not just talking about a “Christian” takeover of Moscow. He wants to impose his narrow, fundamentalist interpretation of Christianity on the community. I’m sure there are plenty of Christians in Moscow who would strongly disagree with Wilson’s interpretation of that faith. The man does not speak for all Christians in Moscow or elsewhere.</p> <p>Wilson’s beef with the town seems to be that it’s a progressive outpost in an otherwise solidly red state. RNS noted that 60 percent of Idaho residents voted for Donald Trump in 2016, but in Moscow, that number was lower at about 50 percent. Reflecting national trends, Moscowites also show growing indifference to institutional religion.</p> <p>Wilson’s views are pretty out there. He takes some standard right-wing fundamentalist lines such as arguing that wives should submit to their husbands, but has in the past endorsed harsh forms of "biblical law." He told <em>Christianity Today </em>in 2009, "You can't apply Scripture woodenly. You might exile some homosexuals, depending on the circumstances and the age of the victim. There are circumstances where I'd be in favor of execution for adultery.... I'm not proposing legislation. All I'm doing is refusing to apologize for certain parts of the Bible."</p> <p>Wilson also holds alarming, un-historical views on race. In 2004, he organized a conference at the University of Idaho that was supposedly a historical look at Southern slavery. The conference was based on a pamphlet Wilson had written full of pro-Confederate, pro-slavery apologetics. The pamphlet, “Southern Slavery: As It Was,” asserted the South’s practice of owning, buying and selling humans created “a genuine affection between the races that we believe we can say has never existed in any nation before the War or since.” (The Southern Poverty Law Center has called Wilson's pamphlet "<a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/chucking-democracy-colson-headlines-paleo-confederates-conference-in">a repulsive apologia for slavery</a>.")</p> <p>In a recent video, Wilson asserted, “It’s not the job of the preacher to be a firefighter out in the world; we’re not supposed to be running around putting out other people’s fire. We are supposed to be arsonists.”</p> <p>It’s a disturbing analogy. An arsonist creates destruction and chaos on purpose. Arsonists tear down – they don’t build up.</p> <p>In a recent letter to the editor of the Moscow <em>Daily News</em>, local resident Linda Pike observed, “Moscow, a university town with a diverse population, should be a welcoming community for all faiths and beliefs. Christ Church’s goal promotes division and excludes our many friends of whatever faiths including Jewish, Muslim, atheists or anyone besides Christians, as defined by Christ Church. Moscow should not be defined by any religion and certainly not owned nor controlled by any church.”</p> <p>Well said, Ms. Pike! Not only is that a strong rebuke to the nightmarish theocracy championed by Wilson and his ilk, but it’s also a vision Moscow – and indeed communities all over America – should strive for. It’s a vision for our country that Americans United champions every day – <a href="https://www.au.org/become-a-member">join us</a>!</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/idaho" hreflang="en">Idaho</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/religious-right-0" hreflang="en">Religious Right</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/southern-slavery-it-was" hreflang="en">Southern Slavery: As It Was</a></div> </div> </div> Thu, 14 Nov 2019 16:35:32 +0000 boston 15873 at https://www.au.org Impeachment Hearings Begin Today. America’s Christian Nationalists Are Not Impressed. https://www.au.org/blogs/house-impeachment-hearings <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Impeachment Hearings Begin Today. America’s Christian Nationalists Are Not Impressed.</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, 11/13/2019 - 13:00</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/impeach%20hearings%2C%2011.13.19.jpg?h=81c3e517&amp;itok=mWc3WpEK" width="1700" height="525" alt="impachment hearing " title="hearing " 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. House of Representatives today begins the public phase of its <a href="https://www.cnn.com/politics/live-news/impeachment-hearing-11-13-19/index.html">impeachment inquiry</a> against President Donald Trump.</p> <p>Polls show that Americans remain <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/11/12/politics/trump-impeachment-polling/index.html">closely divided</a> over whether Trump should be impeached, and many media pundits are speculating about whether the hearings will move the needle in either direction.</p> <p>One thing’s for sure: Some segments of Trump’s base simply won’t be persuaded no matter what happens – and among them are the Christian nationalists.</p> <p>As we noted last month, about a third of Trump’s Religious Right base has said they won’t drop support for him <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/trump-and-evangelicals">no matter what he does</a>. At the same time, leading Christian nationalist leaders are hard at work promoting the GOP’s line that Trump did nothing wrong and the whole thing is a set-up.</p> <p>Evangelist Franklin Graham issued a rambling tweet not even tangentially connected to reality.</p> <p>“Nancy Pelosi and her followers in Congress have weaponized the impeachment process,” Graham harrumphed. “After two years of the Russia collusion hoax, now they’ve turned to this. In my opinion, asking another country to investigate corruption is a good thing – not a bad thing. This is just another attempt to tarnish and embarrass the President before the next election. We have so many problems in this nation that need to be addressed. Instead the Democrats are fixated on only one thing – removing President Donald J. Trump from office. Pray for President Trump today, for God to give him wisdom, protection, and guide each and every step he takes. I pray that he and Melania will sense the presence of the Lord through this unjust inquisition.”</p> <p>Graham’s ministry <a href="https://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/state/north-carolina/article236981027.html">is selling T-shirts</a> for $15.95 a pop that read, “Pray for 45.”</p> <p>Over at <a href="https://donotlink.it/QOrwJ">OneNewsNow</a>, a site firmly anchored in an alternative reality where Trump is a brilliant, hard-driving statesman, you can read a variety of stories parroting the latest conspiracy theories straight from the fever swamps of the Religious Right and get the lowdown on plans by “the left” to drive Trump, who the site insists has done absolutely nothing wrong, from office. (OneNewsNow is owned by the American Family Association, a large Religious Right group based in Tupelo, Miss.)</p> <p>Ralph Reed of the Faith &amp; Freedom Coalition <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/ralph-reed-book">has argued</a> that conservative Christians have a religious duty to support Trump. While being interviewed on a podcast recently, Reed attempted to move beyond impeachment and said what really matters is the 2020 election.</p> <p>Reed <a href="https://www.ajc.com/blog/politics/the-jolt-ralph-reed-says-donald-trump-loses-christians-will-deserve-everything-get/6CJBGHoS10CGX6MV42jnFK/">phrased things in apocalyptic terms</a>, telling listeners, “If the Christian community doesn’t rise up like it never has in modern political history, and if we allow through our inaction, the left to remove this man from the Oval Office, then we will deserve everything that we get. And if they get the White House back, it will be open season on Christian ministries, on churches, the IRS will be able to persecute those faith-based organizations again. They will – under Obamacare – be able to force them to pay for abortion again. They will be able to sue the Little Sisters of the Poor and drag god-fearing nuns into federal court again to make them pay for abortion. That’s what will happen. And if we don’t turn out and vote in the biggest numbers ever, then we deserve it to happen.”</p> <p>And in case you’re still confused about what’s really going on, Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, <a href="https://donotlink.it/KB4qw">is happy to explain it</a>: “In the history of this country, the Left has never experienced the kind of resolve of a Republican president like Donald Trump. Unlike his predecessors, he isn’t yielding to the pressure of the Left – but moving forward, changing the way American politics operate. He’s in touch with the people and following through on an agenda that’s a slap in the face to the socialists in the House. And that’s what’s driving the Left crazy – not these phantom crimes and misdemeanors.”</p> <p>Back in the real world, Trump stands accused of serious crimes. As some in the media have pointed out lately, the use of the Latin phrase <em><a href="https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/quid%20pro%20quo">quid pro quo</a></em> doesn’t really capture what Trump is accused of doing. Terms like <a href="https://www.thedailybeast.com/if-whistleblower-is-right-trump-may-have-committed-extortion-and-bribery?ref=home">bribery and extortion</a> are more accurate.</p> <p>Starting today, the case against Trump will be laid out before the American people on live television. Fair-minded citizens can weigh the evidence and decide where they stand. Don’t expect the Christian nationalists to be among them. They long ago decided they can’t be bothered with inconvenient things like facts.</p> <p><em>(Photo: Screenshot from the impeachment hearings) </em>  </p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Tags</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/religious-right-0" hreflang="en">Religious Right</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/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/ralph-reed" hreflang="en">ralph reed</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/onenewsnow" hreflang="en">OneNewsNow</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/afa" hreflang="en">AFA</a></div> </div> </div> Wed, 13 Nov 2019 18:00:38 +0000 boston 15872 at https://www.au.org Surprise! The Trump Administration’s Justification For Its Denial Of Care Rule Was Based On Lies https://www.au.org/blogs/justification-is-lie <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Surprise! The Trump Administration’s Justification For Its Denial Of Care Rule Was Based On Lies</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, 11/12/2019 - 14:18</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/hospital%20patient%2C%2011.12.19%20.jpg?h=e19785ae&amp;itok=PChOdDZG" width="1700" height="525" alt="hospital patient" title="hospital " typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>As we <a href="https://www.au.org/media/press-releases/americans-united-applauds-court-ruling-striking-down-trump-administrations">noted last week</a>, two federal courts have <a href="https://www.au.org/media/press-releases/americans-united-hails-second-federal-court-blocking-trump-administrations">struck down</a> the Trump administration’s dangerous “Denial of Care Rule” that would have invited anyone working in the health care field to deny services to patients by citing religious beliefs.</p> <p>The two cases were brought by officials in several states and advocates who argue that the rule endangers Americans’ health care by subjecting it to the personal religious beliefs of health workers. Americans United and its allies have <a href="https://www.au.org/tags/denial-of-care-rule">two similar legal challenges</a> to the Denial of Care Rule in the pipeline, and we are optimistic about receiving similar favorable rulings.</p> <p>There are many problems with this rule, but one thing that has come to light since these important court rulings is that the Trump administration’s entire justification for the rule was built on a tissue of lies.</p> <p>Officials at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services asserted that the number of people who said they had been pressured to act against their faith had jumped dramatically during a twelve-month period. They said there had been on average only one complaint a year for some time but that during a period preceding the new rule, the number of complaints suddenly skyrocketed to 343. In light of these numbers, the department argued it was compelled to act.</p> <p>But there’s one major problem: The number is a lie. U.S. District Judge Paul Engelmayer called the figure “flatly untrue,” and <em><a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-trump-administration-takes-its-lies-to-court-and-loses--again/2019/11/08/31e16ca4-0199-11ea-8bab-0fc209e065a8_story.html">The Washington Post noted</a></em> that officials at HHS apparently arrived at this figure by including complaints about vaccinations, which would not have even been affected by the rule in question. In fact, 80 percent of the complaints were about vaccinations. Additionally, some complaints were from parents concerning treatment for their children; they weren't from health care workers at all.</p> <p>So how many complaints were there? <a href="https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2019/11/06/776765601/judge-scraps-conscience-rule-protecting-doctors-who-deny-care-for-religious-reas">As NPR pointed out</a>, Engelmayer noted that 21 of the complaints that HHS provided the court have even a tangential relationship to religious or moral objections. During oral arguments in the case, a government lawyer was forced to concede this was true, calling the figure “in that ballpark.”</p> <p>“This conceded fact is fatal to HHS’s stated justification for the Rule,” Engelmayer wrote in his opinion. “Even assuming that all 20 or 21 complaints implicated the Conscience Provisions, those 20 or 21 are a far cry from the 343 that the Rule declared represented a ‘significant increase’ in complaints.”</p> <p>Given this administration’s penchant for <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/10/14/president-trump-has-made-false-or-misleading-claims-over-days/">ignoring the truth</a> and inventing its own “facts” to suit its needs, it’s not surprising that its justification for the Denial of Care Rule turned out to be a myth. What is surprising is that Trump’s lackeys thought they could slip this whopper by a federal court.</p> <p>They got called on it. Let’s hope there’s more to come.</p> <p>Meanwhile, even with these favorable rulings, it’s clear the Trump administration is going to continue pushing this rule and other policies that misuse religious freedom to justify discrimination. That’s why we’re pleased that today, U.S. Reps. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Chris Pappas (D-N.H.) along with U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) are introducing the Put Patients First Act, which would also block the rule from going into effect. As AU’s <a href="https://www.au.org/media/press-releases/americans-united-applauds-members-of-congress-for-introducing-put-patients">Rachel Laser said</a>, “It’s more important than ever that Congress enact extra safeguards to protect people’s health and fundamental rights. ... All of our lives and well-being are on the line.”</p> <p>Please join us in urging Congress to pass this bill as swiftly as possible.</p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issues field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Issues</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/discrimination-in-health-care" hreflang="en">Discrimination In Health Care</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/discrimination-in-the-name-of-religion" hreflang="en">Discrimination In The Name of Religion</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/government-funded-discrimination" hreflang="en">Government-Funded Discrimination</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/denials-of-health-care" hreflang="en">Denials of 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/denial-of-care-rule" hreflang="en">Denial of Care Rule</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/dept-of-health-and-human-services" hreflang="en">Dept. of Health and Human Services</a></div> </div> </div> Tue, 12 Nov 2019 19:18:55 +0000 boston 15854 at https://www.au.org Project Blitz Wants To Hide Its Christian Nationalist Agenda. It’s Too Late For That. https://www.au.org/blogs/project-blitz-exposed <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Project Blitz Wants To Hide Its Christian Nationalist Agenda. It’s Too Late For That.</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/95" lang="" about="/user/95" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">boston</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Fri, 11/08/2019 - 10:23</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/NJ%20Senate%2C%2011.8.19.jpg?h=fb35d11e&amp;itok=5W1oxQCQ" width="1700" height="525" alt="Government chamber " title="legislature " typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>Investigative journalist and longtime Americans United ally Frederick Clarkson has just released<a href="https://www.politicalresearch.org/2019/11/07/project-blitz-any-other-name"> </a><a href="https://www.politicalresearch.org/2019/11/07/project-blitz-any-other-name">a new scoop on Project Blitz</a> – and it’s a real doozy.</p> <p><a href="https://www.au.org/tags/project-blitz">Project Blitz</a>, you might recall, is a budding band of Christian nationalists who in 2016 launched a new strategy to remake the United States in their own theocratic image, one step at a time. The idea was to flood state legislatures with bills that would erode the principle of separation of church and state. They’d start with measures they believe most people would deem non-controversial, such as requiring the posting of “In God We Trust” signs in public schools and government buildings, and move up the ladder from there to more ambitious proposals such as anti-LGBTQ measures and bills promoting discrimination under the guise of “religious freedom”</p> <p>There was one problem: Clarkson exposed the effort in 2018, and soon groups like Americans United, Political Research Associates (where Clarkson works) and others were well aware of what was going on and told the media. A spate of news stories followed. (Several of these groups later formed a website, <a href="https://www.blitzwatch.org/">BlitzWatch</a>, which has lots of great resources.)</p> <p>Now Blitz backers realize they have a problem. The group, led by former U.S. Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) and endorsed by a bevy of Religious Right organizations, held a strategy call Oct. 24 to discuss what to do about it. </p> <p>One of the things they decided to do was rename Project Blitz. The effort is now known as – wait for it – “Freedom for All.” It’s quite the misnomer, considering they only promote religious freedom for a select few while undermining that same freedom for everyone else.</p> <p>Clarkson reports that Lea Carawan, executive director of the Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation (CPCF), one the groups backing Project Blitz, tried desperately to spin the negative exposure of Project Blitz as some sort of reverse jujitsu that they had planned for all along.</p> <p>Carawan added that Blitz backers in “nearly 20 states” have now “strategically” renamed Project Blitz, since, “the other side’s finally caught on to what you all were doing and the mass of legislation that was going forth across the nation, incredible successes … and they were scratching their head saying what in the world happened?”</p> <p>She added, “They started talking about Project Blitz. And as soon as we understood that they knew they were onto us, we changed the name; shifted things around a little bit; now they’re talking about something that nobody else is really even talking about, we’ve renamed and moved on.” Seriously, who other than people who are up to no good admit things like, “They were onto us”?</p> <p>During the call, Forbes boasted about CPCF creating a new “state of the art” facility he called a National Strategic Center that will presumably serve as a home for the Blitzers. Forbes described it as having 10,000 square feet of space – although he didn’t say where it is or who will work there. The center’s purpose, Forbes said, is to provide “strategic, legal, and grassroots support” to the theocratic push and analyze “strategies that are being used against you.” </p> <p>Clarkson was able to expose Project Blitz last year in part because much of the group’s material, including a detailed playbook laying out its strategy, was posted on the internet by CPCF itself. Blitz backers, which include CPCF, pseudo-historian David Barton’s WallBuilders and a Religious Right legal group called the National Legal Foundation, talked openly about what they wanted to do. Now that there has been a blowback to their scheme, they seem to think they can slip into stealth mode.</p> <p>It’s much too late for that. Americans United and its allies are watching this movement closely, and we won’t let up exposing how its agenda is contrary to our country’s fundamental principle of religious freedom – that everyone is free to practice their faith, or no faith at all, without harming others. <a href="https://www.au.org/get-involved/updates">Sign up for our emails</a> so you can learn how to help fight against the Project Blitz agenda – whatever they call it – in your state.</p> <p>And by the way, the new name also won’t work. In “Romeo and Juliet,” Shakespeare famously observed, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” The reverse is also true: Even renamed, this theocratic dud still stinks to high heaven.</p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issues field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Issues</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/discrimination-in-the-name-of-religion" hreflang="en">Discrimination In The Name of Religion</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/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/project-blitz" hreflang="en">Project Blitz</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/religious-right-0" hreflang="en">Religious Right</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/randy-forbes" hreflang="en">Randy Forbes</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/david-barton" hreflang="en">David Barton</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/wallbuilders" hreflang="en">WallBuilders</a></div> </div> </div> Fri, 08 Nov 2019 15:23:20 +0000 boston 15844 at https://www.au.org Trump’s Denial Of Care Rule Threatens Real People With Real Harm https://www.au.org/blogs/denial-care-rule <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Trump’s Denial Of Care Rule Threatens Real People With Real Harm</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/95" lang="" about="/user/95" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">boston</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Thu, 11/07/2019 - 11:17</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/blurry%20ambulance%2C%2011.7.19.jpg?h=37f03a58&amp;itok=PFWHzadC" width="1700" height="525" alt="blurry ambulance " title="ambulance " typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>A federal court in New York yesterday voided the Trump administration’s dangerous Denial of Care Rule that threatened the health care of millions of people. Americans United hailed U.S. District Court Judge Paul A. Engelmayer’s ruling <a href="https://www.au.org/media/press-releases/americans-united-applauds-court-ruling-striking-down-trump-administrations">in a statement</a>.</p> <p>Engelmayer’s ruling leans heavily on questions of process and regulation. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), he ruled, lacks the authority to issue this kind of rule. Asserting that HHS’s approach “was sufficiently shot through with glaring legal defects,” Engelmayer invalidated the entire rule nationwide.</p> <p>The judge also saw through the Trump administration’s facile justification for the rule. Officials at HHS had cited a “significant increase” in complaints from health care workers who said their religious freedom rights were violated. Engelmayer called this “factually untrue,” observing, “Where HHS claimed that the rule was justified by complaints made to it, the administrative record reflects a yawning evidentiary gap.”</p> <p>AU is thankful for the decision in this case, but there’s one thing it doesn’t delve into: the human angle. At the end of the day, the Denial of Care Rule isn’t just about the rule-making process, which can often seem byzantine. It’s about real people, real stories and real harm. We should never forget that.</p> <p>Americans United wasn’t involved in the New York case, but we are participating in <a href="https://www.au.org/tags/denial-of-care-rule">two similar challenges</a> to the Denial of Care Rule pending the courts, one from California and one from Maryland. As we built these cases, we made sure to <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/november-2019-church-state-magazine/cover-story/uncaring-will-you-be-denied-medical">highlight the views of people on the front lines</a> – men and women who work in the medical community and who understand the damage this reckless rule can do.</p> <p>Rebecca S. Dineen, assistant commissioner for the Baltimore City Health Department Bureau of Maternal and Child Health, explained that for many city residents, enforcement of the Denial of Care Rule could have drastic consequences.</p> <p>“Refusals under such a rule would result in denials of timely care to Baltimore residents, and it is hard to overstate the harms that would follow, both for individual patients denied care and for public health in Baltimore at the population level,” Dineen said.</p> <p>Emergency care could also be affected. Incredibly, the rule allows anyone involved in the health care field to deny services that offend their religious beliefs – even in emergency situations. James Matz, battalion chief of emergency medical services for the Fire Department of Baltimore City, explained in court documents that this could put lives at stake.</p> <p>“[T]he Rule will create an impossible dilemma for Baltimore EMS and will endanger the lives of the people we serve,” Matz said. “If any employee on a medic unit decided, at the scene of a call, that they could not perform their job for religious, moral, or ‘other’ reasons, the results could be catastrophic.”</p> <p>The rule also harms members of vulnerable populations. Sara Cody, director of the Santa Clara County, Calif., Public Health Department, estimated about 25 percent of the county’s population is considered vulnerable because they are members of the LGBTQ community, low-income residents, people who abuse controlled substances or pregnant young women.</p> <p>“[The Denial of Care Rule] would compromise the Public Health Department’s ability to prevent public health emergencies and outbreaks, to prevent chronic diseases, to provide equal opportunity to vulnerable children for a healthy start and optimal health, and to foster healthy families and healthy communities,” Cody said.</p> <p>AU will continue challenging the Denial of Care Rule in the courts. And as these cases go forward, we’ll keep reminding Americans about how radical this rule is. Americans should never have to worry that they won’t get the crucial, and possibly life-saving, care they need because they are LGBTQ, a member of a religious minority, an atheist or because they fall short of someone else’s religious views. That’s a fundamental violation of our rights, and AU simply won’t stand for it.</p> <p>Not only are we still in court on behalf of the plaintiffs in our cases, but the Trump administration is sure to appeal the New York judge’s ruling. If you can, <a href="https://secure.everyaction.com/SiO5ngWmu0ywuqIPY4U_Cw2?emci=c517a853-c900-ea11-828b-2818784d6d68&amp;emdi=477da46a-ca00-ea11-828b-2818784d6d68&amp;ceid=3850489&amp;am=35&amp;contactdata=k0QD08VJLvQTq3N6GgkA1Tk%2fw0NF%2bkJ1Z%2bWiF9CYZiX2E9MvvY3i7VceU5mFV3uF4n%2fdaVe%2fLuX3X7ecwb3AArynh2e4WQQUNvhanNKAfvsggOXCj4P5Iz1BH%2bU8ZBSolSEkq5rAcQ9vlAjp5%2bJipMzJ4fRUj0JLBb2QNGxkizYAEVszyriUaDLesdR1C6r6HTmBrK1kq5T%2fph662iGUzQ%3d%3d">please support our efforts</a> to strike down the Denial of Care Rule for good.</p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issues field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Issues</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/discrimination-in-health-care" hreflang="en">Discrimination In Health Care</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/discrimination-in-the-name-of-religion" hreflang="en">Discrimination In The Name of Religion</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/government-funded-discrimination" hreflang="en">Government-Funded Discrimination</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/lgbtq-rights" hreflang="en">LGBTQ Rights</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/transgender-rights" hreflang="en">Transgender Rights</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/reproductive-rights" hreflang="en">Reproductive Rights</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/denials-of-health-care" hreflang="en">Denials of 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/denial-of-care-rule" hreflang="en">Denial of Care Rule</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/dept-of-health-and-human-services" hreflang="en">Dept. of Health and Human Services</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/trump-administration" hreflang="en">Trump Administration</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/california" hreflang="en">California</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/maryland" hreflang="en">Maryland</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/new-york" hreflang="en">New York</a></div> </div> </div> Thu, 07 Nov 2019 16:17:39 +0000 boston 15842 at https://www.au.org Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin Constantly Used His Office To Promote Christian Nationalism. Last Night, He Lost His Job. https://www.au.org/blogs/matt-bevin-loss <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin Constantly Used His Office To Promote Christian Nationalism. Last Night, He Lost His Job. </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, 11/06/2019 - 11:12</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/about/people/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/bevin%20cnn.PNG?h=7e26f47e&amp;itok=qX86Ct0r" width="1700" height="525" alt="Matt Bevin loses " title="Bevin " typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>The results are in from yesterday’s gubernatorial race in Kentucky, and it looks like Matt Bevin, the state’s Christian nationalist governor, has been denied a second term.</p> <p><a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/11/05/politics/election-night-kentucky-virginia/index.html">With most precincts reporting</a>, Bevin, a Republican, trails Democrat Andy Beshear by just under 6,000 votes. Although Bevin has refused to concede, many news outlets have called the race for Beshear.</p> <p>During Bevin’s tenure, he was kind of a one-man wrecking ball aimed at the church-state wall, regularly pushing policies to keep his far-right Christian fundamentalist base happy and using the power of his office to promote his narrow brand of Christianity.</p> <p>Here’s a round-up of Bevin’s misdeeds:</p> <p>* During his 2015 race, <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/march-2019-church-state-magazine/people-events/kentucky-governor-declines-to-pay-bill">Bevin lauded law-breaking Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis</a>, who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, as “an inspiration ... to the children of America” and vowed to help her if elected. Once in office, Bevin issued an order removing county clerks’ signatures from marriage licenses, an act Davis’ attorney called a “great Christmas present for Kim Davis.”  (Rowan County voters had others ideas and booted Davis from office in 2018, but not before <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/kentuckys-governor-loves-kim-davis-but-he-doesnt-want-to-pay-her-legal">her misdeeds cost Kentucky taxpayers</a> more than $200,000 in legal fees.)</p> <p>* In the wake of the horrific violence by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Va., in August 2017, <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/kentucky-gov-matt-bevin-thinks-bibles-in-public-schools-could-have">Bevin suggested</a> that further incidents could be avoided if we would base public school curriculum on the Bible.</p> <p>“When you go back a couple hundred years, in most instances, the only textbooks that were actually in our public schools were the Bible,” Bevin told a radio talk show host. “The more we’ve removed any sense of spiritual obligation or moral higher authority … the more we’ve removed things that are biblically taught from society, the more we’ve seen the kind of mayhem that we were just discussing.”</p> <p>* Two years ago, Bevin <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/september-2017-church-state/au-bulletin/ky-approves-bill-promoting-public-school-bible">signed legislation</a> encouraging public schools to offer Bible classes. Americans United expressed concern, noting that the bill lacked provisions to ensure that the classes would be taught in a truly objective fashion. <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/may-2017-church-state/people-events/kentucky-governor-signs-law-permitting-religion">Bevin also signed</a> a bill that AU said could lead to student groups in public schools discriminating against LGBTQ students and others in the name of religion.</p> <p>Americans United had good reason to be suspicious of Bevin’s motives. In October, <a href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2019/10/02/bring-your-bible-school-day-kentucky-gov-matt-bevin-touts-event/3843477002/">he made a video</a> urging public school students to take part in “Bring Your Bible to School Day,” an annual event sponsored by Focus on the Family. He also issued several proclamations promoting official days of prayer and issued a statement declaring 2017 the “Year of the Bible” in Kentucky. In addition, he <a href="https://www.wkyt.com/content/news/In-God-we-Trust-to-be-displayed-in-Kentucky-schools--513302621.html">signed a law</a> requiring all public schools in the state to post “In God We Trust” signs.</p> <p>* Meeting with conservative pastors in the state shortly before the 2016 election, <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/go-ahead-and-break-the-law-ky-governor-tells-pastors">Bevin was caught on tape</a> urging them to break the law by endorsing candidates from the pulpit. <a href="http://projectfairplay.org/">Federal law</a> prohibits tax-exempt nonprofits from intervening in partisan elections, but Bevin  was dismissive of the law. (Bevin held a <a href="https://www.courier-journal.com/story/news/politics/2019/10/21/matt-bevin-hosting-kentucky-pastors-governors-mansion-frankfort/4051437002/">similar meeting</a> with far-right pastors last month, but attendees were carefully screened, and the media was not allowed to attend so no one knows what he told them this time.)</p> <p>* Bevin intervened in a lawsuit brought by Americans United on behalf of a Kentucky woman who was fired from a taxpayer-funded Baptist youth home because she’s a lesbian. The suit also challenged the home’s policy of subjecting children to unwanted proselytism. A settlement was reached in the long-running case, but <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/september-2016-church-state/au-bulletin/ky-governor-intervenes-in-first-amendment-case">Bevin ordered state officials to reject it and litigation continues to drag on as a result.</a></p> <p>* When Louisville residents expressed concern over a wave of violent crime, Bevin unveiled no policy proposals to deal with it. Instead, he urged pastors in the community to <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/kentucky-governor-plans-to-pray-crime-away">pray more</a>.</p> <p>“Take a 10-block span, walk corner to corner, and pray with the community two to three times a week during the next year,” Bevin said. “That’s it. Pretty unsophisticated, pretty uncomplicated, pretty basic, but I truly believe we’re going to see a difference in our city.” (Religious leaders noted that they were already praying but could use some concrete forms of help.)</p> <p>* Bevin was notorious for being hostile to public education and has repeatedly <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/26/us/matt-bevin-kentucky-teacher.html">attacked public school teachers</a> in the state. He’s <a href="https://www.courier-journal.com/story/news/education/2019/04/17/matt-bevin-calls-federal-school-choice-proposal-a-gift-at-betsy-devos-event/3486459002/">a fan of vouchers</a> and welcomed U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to the state in the spring of 2017 to laud her multi-billion-dollar federal voucher scheme.</p> <p>* <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/road-to-nowhere-ky-officials-ramp-up-support-for-ark-park">Bevin intervened to help creationist Ken Ham</a> get taxpayer money to build his infamous “Ark Park” in the state. After the Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority decided not to give a package of tax incentives to the park (noting that Ham would only hire fundamentalist Christians), Ham sued in federal court, charging that he was being discriminated against. In a misguided ruling, a federal judge agreed with him. Americans United’s attorneys believed that decision would have been vulnerable on appeal, but that never happened because Bevin ordered an end to the legal action. The result was millions in public support flowing to an evangelistic enterprise. Bevin later <a href="https://twitter.com/mattbevin/status/893997845749084161">tweeted photos</a> of himself hanging out at the park with Ham.</p> <p>During his time in office, Bevin repeatedly assailed religious diversity, equality and church-state separation. He won't be missed.</p> <p><em>(Photo: Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin announces that he will not concede the election. Screenshot from CNN.) </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/matt-bevin" hreflang="en">Matt Bevin</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/kentucky" hreflang="en">Kentucky</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/prayer-proclamations" hreflang="en">prayer proclamations</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/public-school-prayer" hreflang="en">Public School Prayer</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/ark-park" hreflang="en">Ark Park</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/creationism" hreflang="en">Creationism</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/religious-right-0" hreflang="en">Religious Right</a></div> </div> </div> Wed, 06 Nov 2019 16:12:57 +0000 boston 15837 at https://www.au.org