The Wall of Separation Blog https://www.au.org/ en Christian Nationalists Eager To Impose Cancel Culture On Biden’s Prayer Proclamation https://www.au.org/blogs/NDP-resolution-god <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Christian Nationalists Eager To Impose Cancel Culture On Biden’s Prayer Proclamation</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 May 12, 2021 - 08:52</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/pen%20signs%20doc.jpg?h=cca08ca3&amp;itok=naq195Qb" width="1700" height="525" alt="pen and doc" title="pen signs doc" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>The National Day of Prayer (NDP) was nearly a week ago, and Christian nationalists are still whining about the proclamation President Joe Biden issued. Its problem? <a href="https://www.christianpost.com/news/bidens-national-day-of-prayer-proclamation-omits-the-word-god.html">It failed to contain the word “God.”</a></p> <p>Despite not name-checking the Almighty, Biden's proclamation, which, by law, the president is required to issue, is still plenty religious. You can <a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2021/05/05/a-proclamation-on-national-day-of-prayer/">read it for yourself here</a>. It lauds prayer as a daily practice for many and notes, “Today, we remember and celebrate the role that the healing balm of prayer can play in our lives and in the life of our Nation.”</p> <p>That wasn’t good enough for Christian nationalists, who began carping almost immediately. <a href="http://www.standardnewswire.com/news/2092117446.html">Here’s an example</a> from Catholic League President and perpetually outraged foghorn Bill Donohue.</p> <p>There’s a certain irony in seeing this come from the same people who spent four years bending over backward to excuse the biblical illiteracy of Donald Trump. Remember the time Trump said his favorite Bible verse is one that <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2015/09/16/donald-trump-likes-that-proverbs-verse-that-might-not-exist/">doesn’t exist</a>? Or his famous <a href="https://www.npr.org/2016/01/18/463528847/citing-two-corinthians-trump-struggles-to-make-the-sale-to-evangelicals">“Two Corinthians”</a> gaffe? You might also recall how Christian nationalists responded to that: Crickets.</p> <p>The fact is, the Trump-worshipping strain of right-wing Christianity was going to find some reason to moan about Biden’s proclamation no matter what it said. Still smarting from the fact that Biden beat their new messiah in November, they’re hard at work at a tiresome game: using religion to divide Americans and further the culture wars.</p> <p>So, let’s call their bluff with a modest proposal: How about we ditch the National Day of Prayer entirely?</p> <p>Biden’s NDP proclamation was less offensive and less exclusionary than those Trump issued – Trump typically implied ALL Americans pray and his proclamations tended to be studded with offensive “Christian nation” mythology. But even though Biden was careful not to paint all Americans with a prayerful, Christian nationalist brush, those who don’t pray or don’t have any particular religious tradition are bound to feel excluded when the president of our secular nation issues calls to prayer.</p> <p>Those of us who advocate for separation of church and state won’t miss the NDP because we argue that government, as a secular entity, has no business meddling in the religious lives of its citizens, including offering advice on when, where, how or if they pray. At the same time, Christian nationalists won’t have to worry about their tender sensibilities being offended because the president fails to employ the religious terminology they prefer. Both sides will be happy.</p> <p> I call that a win-win.</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/national-day-prayer" hreflang="en">National Day of Prayer</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/joe-biden" hreflang="en">Joe Biden</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/donald-trump" hreflang="en">Donald Trump</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/religious-right-0" hreflang="en">Religious Right</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/ceremonial-deism" hreflang="en">Ceremonial Deism</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/prayer-proclamations" hreflang="en">prayer proclamations</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/catholic-league" hreflang="en">Catholic League</a></div> </div> </div> Wed, 12 May 2021 12:52:59 +0000 boston 16810 at https://www.au.org Biden Administration Rejects Another Harmful Anti-LGBTQ Policy From The Trump Years https://www.au.org/blogs/HHS-trans-policy <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Biden Administration Rejects Another Harmful Anti-LGBTQ Policy From The Trump Years</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 May 11, 2021 - 09:07</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/health%20care%20trans%20.jpg?h=b33081e7&amp;itok=9IvwBAcR" width="1700" height="525" alt="health care " title="medical care " typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>We’ve written several times on this blog about how the administration of President Joe Biden is<a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/homeless-shelters-transgender-rights"> </a><a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/homeless-shelters-transgender-rights">overturning policies</a> that former President Donald Trump put in place at the behest of his Christian nationalist allies.</p> <p>Another one of these cruel policies fell yesterday when the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HSS) announced that it is<a href="https://apnews.com/article/health-care-transgender-sex-discrimination-77f297d88edb699322bf5de45a7ee4ff"> </a><a href="https://apnews.com/article/health-care-transgender-sex-discrimination-77f297d88edb699322bf5de45a7ee4ff">rejecting a Trump-era regulation</a> that sought to change how the civil rights protections in the Affordable Care Act are administered by removing protections that are guaranteed under the ACA. As a result, the Trump rule would have made it harder for many people, especially those who are transgender, to receive the health care they need and advocate for their rights.</p> <p>Section 1557 of the ACA protects individuals from discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age and disability in many health programs and activities. The term “sex” has been interpreted to include gender identity and sexual orientation and provide protection for pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions. The provision bars hospitals, doctors and insurers from discriminating against individuals seeking health care services or coverage.</p> <p>Although the legislation didn’t explicitly include protections for “gender identity,” the Obama administration, based on court rulings, confirmed those protections in a regulation.</p> <p>Nevertheless, Trump pushed out a final rule, which Americans United opposed, that sought to impose a narrow definition of “sex” that threatened LGBTQ rights – right before the U.S. Supreme Court was due to rule in <a href="https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/19pdf/17-1618_hfci.pdf"><em>Bostock v. Clayton County</em></a>, which confirmed that a bar on sex discrimination protects members of the LGBTQ community.</p> <p>Because the Trump rule’s provisions that would have harmed LGBTQ people would have conflicted with the Supreme Court’s ruling in <em>Bostock</em>, a federal court blocked them, and they never went into effect. And yesterday, HSS made it clear that LGBTQ people should not face discrimination in health care.</p> <p>Announcing the change, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra remarked, “Fear of discrimination can lead individuals to forgo care, which can have serious negative health consequences. Everyone – including LGBTQ people – should be able to access health care, free from discrimination or interference, period.”</p> <p>Absolutely. This development is also a reminder of the important role presidential administrations play in shaping policy at the federal level. During the Trump years, many of the decisions made by federal agencies were unduly influenced by Christian nationalist groups. Biden is rolling those back. That angers the Christian nationalists, but people of goodwill who oppose discrimination and reject hate know why it’s the decent thing to 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/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/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/joe-biden" hreflang="en">Joe Biden</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/donald-trump" hreflang="en">Donald Trump</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/dept-of-health-and-human-services" hreflang="en">Dept. of Health and Human Services</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/aca" hreflang="en">ACA</a></div> </div> </div> Tue, 11 May 2021 13:07:27 +0000 boston 16809 at https://www.au.org Fla. Town Council Member Undermines Secular Invocation https://www.au.org/blogs/Fla-invocation-flap <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Fla. Town Council Member Undermines Secular Invocation</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 May 10, 2021 - 08:41</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/about/people/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/williamson%20invo.png?h=bee5b509&amp;itok=5HuwYkfM" width="1700" height="525" alt="invocation" title="Oviedo invocation " typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>Government officials at all levels are expected to treat the people they serve with respect, no matter what religion those folks follow or if they follow none at all.</p> <p>That’s the ideal, anyway. In real life, non-Christians and non-believers are all too often still treated with open disrespect by some officials. This is unacceptable and must stop.</p> <p>An incident like this occurred recently in Oviedo, Fla., where a citizen who volunteered to deliver a secular invocation during a city council meeting was treated with disrespect. By way of some background, bear in mind that six years ago, the city adopted a policy that restricted invocations to city council members and staff. But the city council occasionally went beyond its own policy and invited local clergy to offer invocations. And – surprise! – they were almost always Christian.</p> <p>The Central Florida Freethought Community got wind of this, and David Williamson, the group’s co-founder, requested permission to offer an invocation to the council, which was granted. Williamson delivered a secular invocation to the council last year, and that went off without a hitch.</p> <p>Williamson was again permitted to present the invocation this year, on May 3. But this time, something unusual happened after Williamson delivered his invocation: As soon as Williamson finished speaking, council member Judith Dolores Smith leaned into her microphone and started reciting her own, highly sectarian prayer.</p> <p>“I believe, Lord God, that you’re the king of the universe, and that there’s nothing new under the sun, and all of our problems cannot be solved by man,” Smith said. “We need your intervention. And I asked you tonight, Lord God, if you would give us wisdom you gave Moses who led the children of Israel out of Egypt. Give us wisdom to lead these citizens of Oviedo. And, Lord God, as you promised – your son promised when he left this world – that you would send the comforter, the Holy Spirit. I pray that you would send the Holy Spirit, Lord God, to heal this city. … I just thank you, Lord God, and I thank you and give you the honor, the glory and the praise. Amen.”</p> <p>Smith clearly felt the need to “correct” Williamson’s secular invocation with an overtly religious statement. Imagine if she had acted to negate the statement of a Jewish, Muslim or Hindu speaker. There would have been an uproar. Yet the only sanction Smith faced was a mild rebuke from Mayor Megan Sladek, who reminded everyone of the need to be respectful.</p> <p>The sad thing is, Williamson’s invocation was really good –<a href="https://friendlyatheist.patheos.com/2021/05/04/a-fl-city-official-said-a-christian-prayer-to-undo-an-atheists-invocation/"> </a><a href="https://friendlyatheist.patheos.com/2021/05/04/a-fl-city-official-said-a-christian-prayer-to-undo-an-atheists-invocation/">you can read it here</a> on the “Friendly Atheist” blog – and it got overshadowed by Smith’s antics. Williamson, who was the lead plaintiff in an<a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/win-in-brevard-county"> </a><a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/win-in-brevard-county">Americans United-sponsored lawsuit</a> that successfully ended a discriminatory invocation policy in Brevard County, Fla., last year, is a cool customer. He registered an objection with the council and then departed.</p> <p>The religious landscape of our nation is changing. Growing numbers of Americans say they have<a href="https://www.pewforum.org/2019/10/17/in-u-s-decline-of-christianity-continues-at-rapid-pace/"> </a><a href="https://www.pewforum.org/2019/10/17/in-u-s-decline-of-christianity-continues-at-rapid-pace/">no particular religion</a>. For the first time in history, the number of Americans who belong to a house of worship<a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/HOW-membership-poll"> </a><a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/HOW-membership-poll">has dipped below 50%.</a> Government officials, from the city of Oviedo all the way up to the members of Congress in Washington, D.C., need to come to grips with this reality and acknowledge that pluralism, which includes the right to be wholly secular in your outlook, increasingly defines our nation – and that this isn’t a bad thing.</p> <p>The first step is fairly obvious: Be respectful of everyone’s religious or non-religious beliefs and don’t behave like a jerk.  </p> <p><em>Photo: David Williamson delivers invocation in Oviedo, Fla. Screenshot from YouTube. </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/ceremonial-deism" hreflang="en">Ceremonial Deism</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/invocations" hreflang="en">Invocations</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/florida" hreflang="en">Florida</a></div> </div> </div> Mon, 10 May 2021 12:41:56 +0000 boston 16807 at https://www.au.org AU Complaint Prompts Detroit Officials To Alter Program That Gave Preference To Faith-Based Organizations https://www.au.org/blogs/detroit-faith-based <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">AU Complaint Prompts Detroit Officials To Alter Program That Gave Preference To Faith-Based Organizations</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 May 06, 2021 - 09:15</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/detroit.jpg?h=283672de&amp;itok=Hudd_Hfk" width="1700" height="525" alt="Detroit" title="Detroit" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>We’re pleased today to report an important win for church-state separation: Officials in Detroit ceased involvement with a taxpayer-funded program after Americans United raised concerns about its legality and lack of religious freedom safeguards.</p> <p>The program, known as the Faith Forward Fund, was designed to give tax money to faith-based entities to deal with issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was co-sponsored and partially funded by the city but was carried out by the United Way for Southeastern Michigan. AU noted that the United Way affiliate’s website stated that both faith-based organizations and secular nonprofits were eligible for grants so long as they have an operating budget of less than $250,000. But various other statements on the site and in other materials about the program suggested that only faith-based organizations would be eligible.</p> <p>Bob Holley, an AU member in the area, alerted us to the problem, and our Legal Department got on the case. In a letter to city officials, AU noted, “To begin with, the very name of the program – Faith Forward Fund – suggests that it is only for faith-based organizations and communicates a City preference for and endorsement of religion. The City press release announcing the Program is entitled, ‘City announces Faith Forward grant program to help sustain churches, synagogues, mosques during COVID-19 pandemic.’ While the press release mentions that small nonprofits are eligible, it contains quotes from Mayor Duggan, Wendy Lewis Jackson, Dr. Darienne Hudson, and Paul Propson that only speak of faith-based organizations.”</p> <p>Furthermore, AU pointed out that there was no language in the program materials stating that the money could not be used for religious purposes – a distinction that’s necessary to protect taxpayers’ religious freedom.</p> <p>But AU didn’t just point out the problems. Our attorneys made a number of suggestions, including:</p> <ul> <li>Modifying all program materials to make clear that religious and nonreligious nonprofit organizations are equally eligible for program funds; remove any statements that may suggest that only faith-based organizations are eligible or that there is any kind of preference for faith-based organizations.</li> <li>Modifying the program eligibility requirements so that nonreligious vaccine-site partners are eligible to the same extent as religious ones.</li> <li>Changing the name of the program so that it is inclusive of both religious and nonreligious organizations.</li> <li>Making clear in the program materials that program funds must not be used for religious activities or purposes.</li> <li>Requiring applicants for program funds to certify in their applications that they will not use program funds for religious activities or purposes.</li> <li>Putting in place procedures to monitor use of program funds after they are disseminated to ensure that the money does not go to religious uses.</li> </ul> <p>City officials responded quickly to AU’s letter. They pulled taxpayer money out of the program; in addition, the United Way has added restrictions that will ensure that the money will not be used for religious purposes. The group also made it clear that all grants must be used to serve the citizens of Detroit without discrimination.</p> <p>Alerted by a local activist to a problem, AU was able to quickly fix it.<a href="https://www.au.org/become-a-member"> </a><a href="https://www.au.org/become-a-member">Your support</a> makes victories like this possible. Thank you!</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/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/michigan" hreflang="en">Michigan</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/faith-based-initiative" hreflang="en">faith-based initiative</a></div> </div> </div> Thu, 06 May 2021 13:15:23 +0000 boston 16806 at https://www.au.org The National Day Of Prayer: It’s Still Annoying But Likely To Be Less Horrifying This Year https://www.au.org/blogs/NDP-Less-Horrifying <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">The National Day Of Prayer: It’s Still Annoying But Likely To Be Less Horrifying This Year</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 May 05, 2021 - 09:27</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/white%20house%202.jpg?h=3d1402c7&amp;itok=EBsWS8dF" width="1700" height="525" alt="white house" title="white house DC" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>Tomorrow is the <a href="https://www.nationaldayofprayer.org/introducing_the_national_day_of_prayer_2021_theme">National Day of Prayer</a> (NDP), an event codified by a U.S. law dating to 1952 that requires the president to issue a proclamation recognizing it.</p> <p>Americans United has a lot of problems with the NDP. As a privately sponsored event, it would be fine, but state and local governments often mark the NDP with laudatory proclamations calling on citizens to pray and engage in acts of worship. It’s simply not the place of our secular government to direct its citizens on when, how or whether to pray. Government has no business even offering us advice on how to behave when it comes to religion.  </p> <p>But this year’s event, although it will still promote an unhealthy mixing of religion and state, is likely to be different in one key way: The president probably won’t use it to unveil a terrible policy.</p> <p>That’s exactly what President Donald Trump did to mark the NDP for three out of four years. In fact, one of Trump’s worse initiatives on church-state relations was announced <a href="https://www.au.org/media/press-releases/americans-united-trump-executive-order-harms-religious-freedom-and-undermines">during the 2017 National Day of Prayer.</a> This order, allegedly promoting “religious freedom,” was in reality nothing more than a sop to Christian nationalists.</p> <p>Trump falsely claimed his order would overturn a federal law known as the Johnson Amendment and allow houses of worship to intervene in partisan politics – something he didn’t have the power to do. But even though it was mostly verbiage, the order ended up sowing a lot of confusion. A second portion of the order was also problematic: It attacked women’s access to birth control, allowing religious beliefs to be cited as a reason for taking away this vital form of health care.</p> <p>During the 2018 NDP ceremony at the White House, Trump struck again. This time he <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/june-2018-church-state-magazine/featured/offensive-order">announced plans to</a> change regulations that were put in place to protect people who use government-funded social service programs that were being handled by religious organizations. The old rules said that people who are uncomfortable with the religious character of a faith-based provider have the right to access an alternative provider. Trump’s order was the first step in stripping away that protection. It also mandated the creation of “Faith and Opportunity” offices in every federal agency and department. These offices were ordered to enforce a U.S. Justice Department guidance that furthered religion-based discrimination in taxpayer-funded programs.</p> <p>The 2019 NDP ceremony was another disaster. <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/june-2019-church-state-magazine/people-events/trump-codifies-religion-based">Trump announced a rule</a> inviting health care workers to cite their religious beliefs to deny care to patients. He also said his administration would take steps to ensure that faith-based adoption and foster care agencies that receive taxpayer funding can turn away any prospective parents who fail to meet their religious test. (Both measures were challenged in court by Americans United and its allies, and the health-care rule was quickly invalidated.)</p> <p>2020’s NDP was more subdued. With the coronavirus pandemic raging, Trump held an outdoor ceremony featuring prayer and music, but he refrained from announcing any new initiatives.</p> <p>What will happen tomorrow? We don’t know, but we can make a safe guess that President Joe Biden won’t urge houses of worship to run amok in partisan politics, and he won’t hand down a regressive order that targets women or members of the LGBTQ community. He won’t likely unveil an executive order furthering religion-based discrimination.</p> <p>Biden has been busy <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/Biden-100-Days">overturning Trump-era policies</a>, including some of the orders Trump announced during National Day of Prayer events. There’s more to be done. As we noted last week, AU and 76 other religious, civil rights, labor, health, secular and women’s organizations <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/CARD-Letter-White-House">have written</a> to Melissa Rogers, executive director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, recommending three steps Biden should take to further repair the damage done by Trump.</p> <p>So, while we’re still not fans of a government-backed National Day of Prayer, we’re taking heart that this year’s event is likely to be much less horrifying than the ones we’ve seen since 2017. That’s cause for celebration or even a little private prayer of thanks – but only if you’re so inclined, of course.</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/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/ceremonial-deism" hreflang="en">Ceremonial Deism</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/national-day-prayer" hreflang="en">National Day of Prayer</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/donald-trump" hreflang="en">Donald Trump</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/joe-biden" hreflang="en">Joe Biden</a></div> </div> </div> Wed, 05 May 2021 13:27:43 +0000 boston 16805 at https://www.au.org The Challenges We Face Are New. Our Responses Should Be, Too https://www.au.org/blogs/new-challenges-approach <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">The Challenges We Face Are New. Our Responses Should Be, Too</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 May 04, 2021 - 08:57</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/about/people/rachel-laser" hreflang="en">Rachel Laser</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image"> <label>Image</label> <div class="item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/banner/public/images/blog_post/together.jpg?h=119335f7&amp;itok=vvM8Hzd5" width="1700" height="525" alt="together" title="people together" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p><em>Editor’s note: This post by AU President and CEO Rachel Laser originally appeared in the <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/may-2021-church-state-magazine">May 2021 issue </a>of AU’s </em>Church &amp; State<em> magazine.</em></p> <p>For people like me, rituals that slow you down and open up space for thought are good.</p> <p>Every Friday, I go for a sacred early morning long run with my dear friend Andrea where we exchange our innermost thoughts. As a Jew, I have evolved into appreciating the existence of certain rituals, such as pausing at the end of a busy week to light the Shabbat candles or engaging in deep and honest per­s­onal reflec­tion each year on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. This monthly column gives me the space as president of Americans United to step back from my daily work to reflect on AU’s work and focus on being in relationship with you — an especially important con­nection since the coronavirus has prevented us from any chance of being together in person for so long.</p> <p>At the time of this writing, I, like I hope many of you, am now not only vaccinated but in recovery mode from all that we have been through over these past few years. But every time I settle into a long and satisfying exhale, I am reminded of how much work we still have to do. Take, as one example of too many, the Supreme Court.</p> <p>On April 9, the Court <a href="https://www.au.org/media/press-releases/Supreme-Court-California-COVID-April">issued an opinion</a> in <em>Tandon v. Newsom, </em>a case challenging a California policy crafted by public health officials that put the <em>exact same </em><em>limitations on </em>religious <em>and</em> secular in-home gatherings.</p> <p>For the Court’s ultra-conservative majority, that complete parity in treatment was still somehow mis­treating religion. Remarkably, the Court ruled that because commercial businesses such as hardware stores and groceries were allowed to open, home-based religious meetings must also be permitted. The result: The Court granted a religious exemption for in-home religious gatherings.</p> <p>There is no clearer illustration of religious freedom being misused to license harm to others than this case. The long-term ramifications are extremely concerning. If the Court is willing to, in the words of Justice Elena Kagan’s dissent, “ignore ... experts’ scientific findings” even amidst a global pandemic and “equally treat apples and watermelons” to bestow privilege on religion, where will the Court draw the line?</p> <p>I could easily spend the rest of this column laying out the depth of the threats we now face with this Supreme Court (and the lower courts, now one quarter Trump appointees), but as important as it is to understand that danger, it’s equally critical to reserve energy to be strategic and forward moving in the face of it. That’s exactly what Americans United’s five-year strategic roadmap has enabled us to do. We are making steady progress as we work to grow our movement, increase our visibility and expand our legal and public policy capacity.</p> <p>Just one example is our recent poll that I plan to share in more detail soon. We cannot make transformational progress until we understand what obstacles stand in the way of more people joining our cause. Our research taught us that while a super-majority of Americans support church-state separation, very few understand how it affects their lives or that it’s under threat. As we educate more people about our issue, we must ensure that we are speaking about our values in modern and resonant terms. But the good news is, for many of our issues, the support is already there. For example, we were thrilled to learn from our poll that 8 in 10 Ameri­cans agree that “the law should not allow people to use their religious beliefs to harm others.”</p> <p>I am also excited to preview that AU will be refreshing our logo and visual identity and (drumroll please!) adding a tagline. You will also be pleased to know that we are redesigning our website to maximize its appeal and usefulness. We are doing all of this work carefully, driven by best practices, data we are collecting and extensive conversations with both our members and new target audiences.</p> <p>We’ve also begun to think about plans to celebrate our 75th anniversary<em> next year</em>. Highlights are sure to include our Second National Advocacy Summit (save the date: March 27-29, 2022), the rollout of our rebranding (discussed above), a nationwide visibility campaign, projects to grow AU’s budget to continue our strategic plan work and special opportunities throughout the year to honor our past work and look forward together.</p> <p>Thanks for spending some of your valuable time today joining me as I share my thoughts. Until next month ... stay healthy, stay hopeful and stay strong.</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/supreme-court" hreflang="en">Supreme Court</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/justice-elena-kagan" hreflang="en">Justice Elena Kagan</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/polls" hreflang="en">polls</a></div> </div> </div> Tue, 04 May 2021 12:57:51 +0000 boston 16804 at https://www.au.org An Arkansas Creationism Bill Has Failed To Evolve Into Law https://www.au.org/blogs/Ark-creationism-dead <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">An Arkansas Creationism Bill Has Failed To Evolve Into 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">Mon May 03, 2021 - 08:44</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/dino%20kids.jpg?h=4462e40b&amp;itok=yk36ogfN" width="1700" height="525" alt="kids with dinos" title="dino kids" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>There’s good news out of Arkansas for a change: A Senate committee vote killed a misguided bill promoting creationism in the state’s public schools.</p> <p>As we <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/Arkansas-creationism-bill">noted on this blog recently</a>, House Bill 1701, sponsored by state Rep. Mary Bentley (R-Perryville), was a real throwback: It would have allowed the teaching of creationism alongside evolution in science classes.</p> <p>This “balanced treatment” approach has been invalidated by the U.S. Supreme Court and lower federal courts (including in a 1981 ruling from Arkansas), but that didn’t matter to Bentley. She believes the Supreme Court might be willing to change its mind.</p> <p>But that unlikely scenario would leave Arkansas students woefully unprepared to understand modern biology. Bentley is doing the state’s youngsters no favors here. In a world where STEM skills (science, technology, engineering and math) are increasingly important gateways to good careers and success, her approach would leave the young people of Arkansas behind.</p> <p>Bentley’s bill passed the Arkansas House of Representatives by a wide margin but ran into problems in the Senate. Two weeks ago, the Senate Education Committee deadlocked on it 3-3. For now, the bill is dead – the legislature has finished most of its work for the session, having gone Wednesday into an extended recess until it takes up redistricting later this year.</p> <p>As Hemant Mehta of the “Friendly Atheist” blog <a href="https://friendlyatheist.patheos.com/2021/04/22/arkansas-senate-committee-defeats-bill-allowing-creationism-in-science-class/">noted</a>, the debate over the bill was hardly inspiring. Some lawmakers backed creationism, and one even said the bill was unnecessary because creationism is already being taught in a school where a friend teaches (yikes!). But in the end, enough members of the committee voted the right way. It might have been an ugly win, but we’ll take it.</p> <p>While there were few profiles in courage in Arkansas, it’s still good to see this dangerous bill die. Let’s hope it does not rise again.</p> <p> </p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Tags</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/creationism" hreflang="en">Creationism</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/arkansas" hreflang="en">Arkansas</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/public-education" hreflang="en">public education</a></div> </div> </div> Mon, 03 May 2021 12:44:41 +0000 boston 16803 at https://www.au.org 77 Organizations Urge New Path Forward For Biden’s White House On Religious Freedom https://www.au.org/blogs/CARD-Letter-White-House <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">77 Organizations Urge New Path Forward For Biden’s White House On Religious Freedom</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/69587" lang="" about="/user/69587" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">LHayes</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Fri Apr 30, 2021 - 13:12</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/about/people/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/GettyImages-503375767.jpg?h=7fb3de95&amp;itok=RrdIHCDN" width="1700" height="525" alt="White House" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>Under President Joe Biden, the White House’s Office of Faith-Based &amp; Neighborhood Partnerships seems to be moving in a new direction. Biden’s executive order reestablishing the partnership office recognizes that it must “preserv[e] our fundamental constitutional commitments” to equal protection and church-state separation. And longtime church-state advocate <a href="https://www.au.org/media/press-releases/Biden-Appoints-Melissa-Rogers">Melissa Rogers</a> will lead the office.</p> <p>But there’s much more work to be done. Over the past four years, the Trump administration stripped religious freedom protections from regulations and issued memoranda, policies and executive orders encouraging the misuse of religious freedom to justify discrimination. Even before Trump, leftover policies from the Bush administration’s “Faith-Based Initiative” allowed federal contractors and grantees to discriminate in employment with taxpayer dollars. </p> <p>Today, <a href="https://www.au.org/sites/default/files/2021-04/CARD%20Letter%20to%20White%20House%204.30.21.pdf">77 religious, civil rights, labor, health, secular and women’s organizations wrote to Rogers</a> to urge the White House’s Faith-Based Office to restore critical religious freedom protections and chart a new path forward with even more robust protections. As members and allies of the Coalition Against Religious Discrimination (CARD), they include diverse groups ranging from the Presbyterian Church (USA) to the Union for Reform Judaism, the National Education Association, National Women’s Law Center, the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, the NAACP, the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, the National Council of Churches, the ACLU, Human Rights Campaign, and us at Americans United.</p> <p>All of us agree that faith-based organizations, like secular organizations, should not be allowed to take government funds and then place religious litmus tests on whom they hire, whom they serve, or what services required under the program to provide. Our letter urges the White House to take several concrete actions, including: </p> <p><strong>1. Restoring safeguards in social service programs that were stripped by the Trump administration in their </strong><a href="https://www.au.org/coalition-against-religious-discrimination-card-comments-on-trumps-faith-based-regulations"><strong>Faith-Based Regulations</strong></a><strong>. </strong>Trump’s regulations removed requirements that people who are receiving taxpayer-funded social services get notice of their religious freedom rights, including that they could request a referral to another provider if they are uncomfortable with the religious character of the current provider. The Trump regulations also ended the requirement that people who get services through a voucher program (known as “indirect aid”) had at least one secular option to choose from.<strong> </strong>The result:<strong> </strong>Trump’s rules could lead to people – especially religious minorities and the nonreligious, women and LGBTQ people – foregoing the services they need for fear of religious coercion or because they aren’t informed about their rights.</p> <p>That’s why Americans United, along with our allies at Democracy Forward and Lambda Legal, filed a <a href="https://www.au.org/sites/default/files/2021-01/MAZON%20v.%20Dept.%20of%20Health%20and%20Human%20Services%20Complaint%201.19.21.pdf">federal lawsuit </a>against the Trump administration to challenge this rollback of religious freedom protections for vulnerable people who use taxpayer-funded social services. We’re suing on behalf of several organizations, including MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger and Services &amp; Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE), that fund and provide services to vulnerable communities. </p> <p>Although this lawsuit is in the pipeline, Biden can fix this problem immediately by issuing new regulations that restore the religious freedom safeguards for people who receive social services. </p> <p><strong>2. Ending federally funded employment discrimination.</strong> Existing policies allow taxpayer-funded contractors and grantees to use religion to discriminate against their employees. Biden must ensure that no one is denied a government-funded job because they are the “wrong” religion.</p> <p><strong>3. Undoing policies, memoranda and guidance by the Trump administration that misused federal religious freedom law.</strong> Previous administrations issued policies that misused the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) to justify religious exemptions to laws that bar discrimination. The Biden White House must rescind these policies and clarify that RFRA cannot be used to violate the civil rights of others. RFRA must be a shield to protect religious freedom, not a sword to allow discrimination. </p> <p>The Biden White House has a lot to do to restore the damage to our religious freedom rights of the last four years, and has an important opportunity to chart a new path that will protect religious freedom for all Americans. With this <a href="https://www.au.org/sites/default/files/2021-04/CARD%20Letter%20to%20White%20House%204.30.21.pdf">CARD letter</a> supported by 77 organizations, we hope they will use our blueprint for where to start. </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/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/faith-based-regulations" hreflang="en">Faith-Based Regulations</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/melissa-rogers" hreflang="en">Melissa Rogers</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/joe-biden" hreflang="en">Joe Biden</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/card" hreflang="en">CARD</a></div> </div> </div> Fri, 30 Apr 2021 17:12:58 +0000 LHayes 16802 at https://www.au.org So How’s He Doing? Biden Marks 100 Days In Office https://www.au.org/blogs/Biden-100-Days <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">So How’s He Doing? Biden Marks 100 Days In Office</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 Apr 29, 2021 - 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/Biden%20Joint%20Congress%20Address%20CSPAN%204.28.21.png?h=83d127b5&amp;itok=NY9A1FHS" width="1700" height="525" alt="President Biden speaking at Joint Session of Congress with VP Harris and Speaker Pelosi" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>President Joe Biden has been in office for 100 days. While that’s something of an arbitrary number, it’s traditionally the point where lots of people step back and ask, “So, how’s it going so far?”</p> <p>So, how is it going when it comes to church-state separation? Very good overall. Here are five areas where Biden has made a real difference, along with some next steps we hope Congress and his administration will take <a href="https://www.au.org/sites/default/files/2020-11/Agenda%20to%20Restore%20%26%20Protect%20Religious%20Freedom%20-%20Overview_0.pdf">to continue restoring and protecting religious freedom</a>:</p> <p><strong><em>Biden axed the Muslim and African Bans: </em></strong>During the campaign, Biden promised to get rid of Donald Trump’s discriminatory Muslim and African Bans, which barred people from coming into America simply because Trump and white Christian nationalists dislike Muslims and immigrants of color. Discriminating against people because of their religion or nationality imposed a high cost on families and our country and violated religious freedom. <a href="https://www.au.org/media/press-releases/President-Biden-Ends-Muslim-Ban">Biden issued an executive order</a> reversing the policy on his first day in office. (Next step: The <a href="https://www.au.org/media/press-releases/House-Passes-No-Ban-Act">NO BAN Act</a>, which passed the House earlier this month, will make sure a future president couldn’t reinstate the bans.) </p> <p><strong><em>Biden ended policies that harm LGBTQ people</em></strong><strong>: </strong>To keep his Christian nationalist base happy, Trump issued a number of orders and regulatory changes that discriminated against members of the LGBTQ community. Biden replaced these with a sweeping order that encapsulates what have been called the most <a href="https://www.npr.org/2021/01/28/961722392/biden-signs-most-far-reaching-federal-protections-for-lgbtq-people-yet">far-reaching federal protections</a> for members of the LGBTQ community to date. Notably, the ban on transgender troops in the military, which leaders of the Armed Forces never supported, <a href="https://www.au.org/media/press-releases/Biden-Ends-Trans-Military-Ban">is no more</a>. (Next step: Passage of the <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/two-important-bills">Equality Act</a> and the <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/pass-the-DNHA">Do No Harm Act</a> will give LGBTQ folks much-needed, comprehensive protections.) </p> <p><strong><em>Biden reformed the White House “faith-based” office</em></strong><strong>: </strong>Trump put Paula White, a “prosperity gospel” TV preacher, in charge of his faith-based office even though she was unqualified for the job. Under Trump, the office’s focus was almost exclusively on pandering to conservative evangelicals. <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/rogers-appointment-office">Biden named Melissa Rogers</a>, an esteemed scholar and author who respects church-state separation, to head the partnership office. Rogers promises to embrace our country’s diversity – including the secular community – in her work. A White House fact sheet announcing her appointment read, “When Methodists and Muslims, Buddhists and Baptists, Sikhs and Secular Humanists serve together, we strengthen one another and we strengthen America.” (Next step: The Biden administration must <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/protect-people-services">implement robust religious-freedom protections</a> for people seeking taxpayer-funded services.)</p> <p><strong><em>Biden policies elevate science over religious dogma:</em></strong><strong> </strong>Under Biden, decisions about scientific and medical matters are being made by the people best able to make them: scientific and medical experts. Trump-era policies that all but <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/fetal-tissue-ban">banned fetal tissue research</a> and <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/28/politics/biden-abortion-executive-orders/index.html">denied federal money</a> to groups that provide or refer patients for abortions have been rolled back. (Next step: <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/Religious-Freedom-Agenda-Health-Care">Revoke Trump rules</a> that invited health care providers to deny medical care and allowed employers and universities to deny workers and students access to birth control, all based on religious beliefs.)</p> <p><strong><em>Biden ended Trump’s attempt to rewrite American history:</em></strong> During the waning days of the Trump administration, a band of right-wing historical revisionists that Trump called the 1776 Commission <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/trump-history-commission">produced a report</a> designed to give aid and comfort to the “Christian nation” crowd. Trump wanted the commission’s report – a skimpy 41-page document lacking footnotes – to be the basis for a new social studies curriculum. That’s not going to happen. Biden disbanded the commission and consigned the report to where it always belonged: a trash bin.</p> <p>We can be thankful for other things: The religious extremists who swarmed around the Trump White House like flies have been sent packing, Biden’s Twitter account isn’t an international embarrassment and it’s highly unlikely Biden will ever incite a riot leading to loss of life and an assault on the Capitol. There’s a certain air of stability and even tedium in the Biden White House. It’s a relief after four years of Trump’s manic ride on a careening rollercoaster.</p> <p>But even as we breathe a sigh of relief, let’s not forget that we have a lot of work to do. The new direction in the White House is welcome, but the religious extremists are still smarting over Trump’s loss and dreaming up new schemes to undermine church-state separation. </p> <p><a href="https://www.au.org/become-a-member">With your help</a>, Americans United will be there to meet them each and every time. </p> <p><em>(Photo credit: <a href="https://www.c-span.org/video/?511121-1/president-biden-addresses-joint-session-congress&amp;live">C-SPAN screenshot</a> of President Biden's address to the joint Congress.)</em></p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issues field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Issues</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/discrimination-in-the-name-of-religion" hreflang="en">Discrimination In The Name of Religion</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/religious-freedom" hreflang="en">Religious Freedom</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/religious-minorities-rights" hreflang="en">Religious Minorities&#039; Rights</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/lgbtq-rights" hreflang="en">LGBTQ Rights</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/transgender-rights" hreflang="en">Transgender Rights</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/schools" hreflang="en">Schools</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/reproductive-rights" hreflang="en">Reproductive 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/joe-biden" hreflang="en">Joe Biden</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/muslim-ban" hreflang="en">Muslim Ban</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/faith-based-regulations" hreflang="en">Faith-Based Regulations</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/melissa-rogers" hreflang="en">Melissa Rogers</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/denial-of-care-rule" hreflang="en">Denial of Care Rule</a></div> </div> </div> Thu, 29 Apr 2021 15:17:02 +0000 LHayes 16788 at https://www.au.org Biden Administration Axes Trump-Era HUD Rule That Attacked Transgender Rights https://www.au.org/blogs/homeless-shelters-transgender-rights <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Biden Administration Axes Trump-Era HUD Rule That Attacked Transgender Rights</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/69587" lang="" about="/user/69587" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">LHayes</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Mon Apr 26, 2021 - 11:30</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/about/people/rob-boston" hreflang="und">Rob Boston</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image"> <label>Image</label> <div class="item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/banner/public/images/blog_post/GettyImages-1236341679.jpg?h=b1a91ebe&amp;itok=fe2DEWzu" width="1700" height="525" alt="Transgender man" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>The administration of former President Donald Trump was notorious for putting into place rules and regulations that harmed LGBTQ people and undermined their rights. One by one, President Joe Biden has been rolling back Trump’s harmful policies.</p> <p><a href="https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/biden-admin-scraps-trump-era-proposal-limit-trans-protections-shelters-n1265010">The latest to fall</a> is a particularly cruel provision proposed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) under former Secretary Ben Carson that could have led to transgender people being denied access to federally funded homeless shelters, and subjected to harassment in the process. </p> <p>Trump sought to weaken what’s known as the Equal Access Rule. This policy, first enacted during the presidency of Barack Obama, guarantees that people in need of emergency housing have equal access to federally funded shelters and facilities regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.</p> <p>Had the Trump rule been put in place, staff members at federally funded shelters would have been able to cite their religious beliefs as a reason to refuse service to transgender people. Shelters also would also have been allowed to assign transgender people space based on their sex as assigned at birth as opposed to their current gender identity. It would also have permitted personnel at these shelters to engage in intrusive questioning to determine a person’s sex at birth.</p> <p>Trump sought to undermine the Equal Access Rule to appease his base of Christian nationalists, who have been attacking transgender rights as the latest front in their culture wars. Had it been implemented, the change would have resulted in real harm to real people. Trump and his allies simply didn’t care.</p> <p>In announcing that HUD pulled the plug on the the Trump policy proposal, HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge said, “Access to safe, stable housing – and shelter – is a basic necessity. Unfortunately, transgender and gender non-conforming people report more instances of housing instability and homelessness than cis-gender people. Today, we are taking a critical step in affirming HUD’s commitment that no person be denied access to housing or other critical services because of their gender identity. HUD is open for business for all.”</p> <p>The Trump-Carson policy would have furthered religious discrimination on the taxpayers’ dime, but it was also simply mean-spirited. The Biden administration’s decision to ditch the rule is a loss for Christian nationalists, but it’s a win for all Americans who care about fairness, equality and decency.</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/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/denials-of-service" hreflang="en">Denials of Service</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/hud" hreflang="en">HUD</a></div> </div> </div> Mon, 26 Apr 2021 15:30:20 +0000 LHayes 16769 at https://www.au.org