The Wall of Separation Blog https://www.au.org/blogs/feed en In Just One Month, Trump’s Denial Of Care Rule Will Take Effect – Unless We Stop It First https://www.au.org/blogs/Denial-of-Care-One-Month <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">In Just One Month, Trump’s Denial Of Care Rule Will Take Effect – Unless We Stop It First</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/69587" lang="" about="/user/69587" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">LHayes</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Tue, 10/22/2019 - 12:48</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/about/people/liz-hayes" hreflang="und">Liz Hayes</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image"> <label>Image</label> <div class="item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/banner/public/images/blog_post/Sick%20woman%20in%20hospital%20bed%20cropped.jpg?h=a618adec&amp;itok=yhfRBgPk" width="1700" height="525" alt="Sick woman in hospital bed" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>Unless we’re able to block it first, President Donald Trump’s Denial of Care Rule will go into effect one month from today – putting all of our lives at risk. The rule invites any health care worker – including doctors, nurses, paramedics, orderlies and receptionists – to deny care to any patient on the basis of the worker’s religious or moral beliefs.</p> <p>Anyone could be denied care, even in life-threatening circumstances, because of who they are, who they love, what they believe or what medical care they’re seeking. Women, LGBTQ people, patients with AIDS or HIV, and religious minorities are particularly at risk.</p> <p>This rule is a gross misinterpretation of our fundamental principle of religious freedom, which guarantees us all the right to believe, or not, as long as we don’t harm others. But harming others is exactly what this rule would do. Our government should be protecting patients, not facilitating discrimination and calling it religious freedom.</p> <p>Threatened with the loss of crucial federal funding if they don’t comply with the rule’s confusing and unworkable requirements, health care facilities could feel forced to stop providing certain services like reproductive and LGBTQ-focused care – which is the ultimate goal of Trump and his base of religious extremists. This rule could debilitate health systems across the country, leaving millions without access to critical health care.</p> <p>That’s why <a href="https://www.au.org/tags/denial-of-care-rule">Americans United and our allies filed not one, but two federal lawsuits</a> to stop the rule from taking effect:</p> <ul><li>In one case filed in California, we joined the Center for Reproductive Rights, Lambda Legal and Santa Clara County, which runs an extensive public health and hospital system that serves as a safety-net provider for the county’s 1.9 million Bay Area residents. Other plaintiffs in the case include providers across the country that focus on reproductive and LGBTQ care plus five doctors and three medical associations.</li> <li>The second case was filed in Maryland in conjunction with Baltimore City Solicitor, where the Baltimore City Health Department has strived to ensure that vulnerable and historically marginalized populations can seek medical care without fear of stigmatization by eradicating the very type of discrimination in health care that the Denial of Care Rule encourages. The rule would endanger not only the health of vulnerable groups but also the public health for the entire city population of about 600,000.</li> </ul><p>AU attorneys will travel to San Francisco on Oct. 30, where our case will be argued. We hope that federal judge will declare the Denial of Care Rule unlawful. In early November, we expect to be in Baltimore urging the federal court there to reach the same conclusion.</p> <p>To support our cases, about 30 medical professionals and health care administrators affiliated with our clients offered testimony on the myriad ways the Denial of Care Rule will exacerbate discrimination, erect more barriers for people trying to access health care, make staffing more difficult and costly for providers, undermine medical training and the medical knowledge of the next generation of heath care workers, and above all, put people’s lives at risk. We’ll be sharing their concerns in the coming weeks on this blog.</p> <p>Meanwhile, we’re prepared to do everything in our power to stop the rule from going into effect, but taking on the Trump administration requires significant resources. <a href="https://secure.everyaction.com/SiO5ngWmu0ywuqIPY4U_Cw2?source=blog_CTA_102219">Please consider making a donation</a> to Americans United to help our team defeat this rule and protect religious freedom and health care for all.</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 class="item"><a href="/issues/reproductive-rights" hreflang="en">Reproductive Rights</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/denial-of-care-rule" hreflang="en">Denial of Care Rule</a></div> </div> </div> Tue, 22 Oct 2019 16:48:25 +0000 LHayes 15818 at https://www.au.org America Is Changing. That Means We’re Going To Need Church-State Separation More Than Ever. https://www.au.org/blogs/new-pew-study <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">America Is Changing. That Means We’re Going To Need Church-State Separation More Than Ever.</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, 10/18/2019 - 09:35</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/diverse%20crowd%20of%20people%2C%2010.18.19.jpg?h=2c3699b2&amp;itok=iLw9l7H7" width="1700" height="525" alt="crowd of people " title="crowd " typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>There’s plenty to chew on in the <a href="https://www.pewforum.org/2019/10/17/in-u-s-decline-of-christianity-continues-at-rapid-pace/?utm_source=adaptivemailer&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=19-10-17%20religious%20composition&amp;org=982&amp;lvl=100&amp;ite=4775&amp;lea=1091656&amp;ctr=0&amp;par=1&amp;trk=">latest data from the Pew Research Center</a> about religious trends in America.</p> <p>Consider just one fact: The number of self-identified Christians in America now stands at 65 percent – a drop of 12 points within the past 10 years. “Nones,” people who when asked to state a religious preference, reply “none,” now account for 26 percent of the population, a jump of 9 points since 2009. There are now more nones in America than Catholics, who are at 20 percent.</p> <p>“Nones” are a diverse group, and they should not all be perceived as being faithless. While some are atheists and agnostics, most remain interested in spiritual topics but haven’t joined a faith community.</p> <p>As the Pew report makes clear, our country is changing. When it comes to religion, we’re more diverse than ever. While far-right fundamentalists who are convinced that only their narrow version of faith is “true” may tremble at this news, the rest of us should celebrate it. It’s what our founders intended.</p> <p>Both Thomas Jefferson and James Madison spoke of the value of religious diversity to a growing nation. Madison in 1788 <a href="http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/amendI_religions49.html">asserted that</a> a “multiplicity of sects” is “the best and only security for religious liberty in any society.</p> <p>“For where there is such a variety of sects,” observed Madison, “there cannot be a majority of any one sect to oppress and persecute the rest.” Even in Madison’s day, it was understood that religious freedom should never be used as an instrument of discrimination or a device to deny others their rights.</p> <p>That’s one reason to support the religious freedom that separation of church and state gives us. Another reason is that it’s simply a fundamental right of all people to make their own decisions about religion without government interference.</p> <p>That includes the right to affiliate strongly with a faith community, the right to change your beliefs or the right to blend traditions together into your own unique spiritual brew. It includes the right to reject all faiths and embrace atheism. It includes the right to question, to doubt and to seek.</p> <p>Americans who do these things may horrify the Christian nationalists among us, but they’re honoring a great American tradition. Colonial-era religious freedom advocate <a href="https://www.history.com/topics/reformation/roger-williams">Roger Williams</a> was a Puritan minister but found that faith’s rigid requirements too stifling. He was a Baptist for a short time but ultimately decided that Jesus would not reveal which version of faith was valid until the second coming, so he went his own way. Williams may have been our first “none.”</p> <p>Jefferson operated in the same vein. In an 1819 <a href="https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Jefferson/98-01-02-0542">letter to a friend</a>, he observed, “You say you are a Calvinist. I am not. I am of a sect by myself, as far as I know.”</p> <p>Religious freedom gives all of us the right to be a sect by ourselves – or to reject all sects. And keeping religion and government separate is what protects that right for everyone.</p> <p>Unfortunately, our court system is moving in the opposite direction by upholding certain forms of Christian privilege. The U.S. Supreme Court this summer <a href="https://www.au.org/media/press-releases/americans-united-condemns-us-supreme-courts-decision-to-allow-bladensburg">approved the display</a> of a 40-foot-tall cross on public land in Bladensburg, Md., and a lower federal court has said that non-theists <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/october-2019-church-state-magazine/people-events/federal-appeals-court-allows-theist">can be excluded</a> from offering guest invocations before the Pennsylvania House of Representatives because only references to God can properly solemnize such an occasion.</p> <p>Courts have said such practices are permissible because they are “traditional.” But our greater tradition is meaningful religious freedom and the right to make your own decision about which faith, if any, you wish to join and support.</p> <p>As recent demographic changes have shown, more and more Americans are taking advantage of that tradition. Only separation of church and state can ensure that future generations will be able to do the same. For their sake, our courts should be shoring up the church-state wall, not knocking out its bricks.</p> <p><a href="https://www.au.org/become-a-member">Join us</a> as we work to keep that wall high and firm!</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/pew-research" hreflang="en">Pew Research</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/james-madison" hreflang="en">James Madison</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/roger-williams" hreflang="en">Roger Williams</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/thomas-jefferson" hreflang="en">thomas jefferson</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/polls" hreflang="en">polls</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/nones" hreflang="en">Nones</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/display-of-religious-symbols" hreflang="en">display of religious symbols</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/legislative-prayer" hreflang="en">legislative prayer</a></div> </div> </div> Fri, 18 Oct 2019 13:35:37 +0000 boston 15815 at https://www.au.org Religious Freedom – Hard To Find At The Values Voter Summit https://www.au.org/blogs/Values-Voter-Summit-2019 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Religious Freedom – Hard To Find At The Values Voter Summit</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, 10/17/2019 - 12:33</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/about/people/liz-hayes" hreflang="und">Liz Hayes</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image"> <label>Image</label> <div class="item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/banner/public/images/blog_post/Eric%20Metaxas%204.JPG?h=678a7746&amp;itok=JEzP3rM7" width="1700" height="525" alt="Eric Metaxas" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>A stunning statement was made at the Values Voter Summit over the weekend. Well, a lot of stunning statements were made, but unlike 95 percent of the remarks over the course of the two-day conference that caters to Christians nationalists, this comment actually supported our country’s fundamental principle of religious freedom as the right to believe, or not, as you choose.</p> <p>“Separation of church and state is sacred,” said Eric Metaxas, a conservative radio show host and author. He went on to say that “government-sponsored faith dies.”</p> <p>It was an unexpected shout-out to the true meaning of religious freedom during a gathering of conservative Christians who devoted most of the event to talking about strategies for inserting their extremist religious beliefs into government policy, the courts, public schools and communities – often at the expense of women, LGBTQ people, religious minorities and others.</p> <p>Not that Metaxas’ grasp of religious freedom was perfect – he also said God is at the heart of our freedoms and that people can’t be virtuous without faith. It was a common refrain – Gary Bauer, formerly of the Religious Right groups Family Research Council and Focus on the Family, attributed our rights to “God, not government.” Retired Lt. Col. Oliver North, a perennial VVS speaker fresh from parting ways with the NRA, made the erroneous claim that our Constitution identifies God as the “grantor of the blessings of liberty.”</p> <p>And of course President Donald Trump himself pushed a Christian nationalist message during his lengthy remarks: “Now, powered by those same historic values that have always defined our nation, we will reach new heights, make new breakthroughs and we will strengthen the bonds of love and loyalty that unite us all as citizens, as neighbors, as patriots, as Christians, as people of faith.</p> <p>“As one people, one nation and one United States of America, we will stand as a light of liberty, a land of courage and a home for proud people of faith,” he continued. “Forever and always, Americans will believe in the cause of freedom, the power of prayer and the eternal glory of God. Thank you. God bless you. And God bless America.”</p> <p>No mention of uniting citizens who aren’t Christians or people of faith – about a third of the U.S. population. And it’s certainly not true that all Americans believe in prayer or “the eternal glory of God.” But that’s not a winning talking point for the Values Voter crowd.</p> <p>Instead, the crowd cheered efforts to misuse religious freedom to undermine the rights of others and cause them harm. They celebrated efforts to restrict abortion access – and several elected officials made clear that <a href="https://www.chicagotribune.com/opinion/commentary/ct-perspec-abortion-laws-separation-church-state-20190523-story.html">abortion is a church-state separation issue</a> by framing their policy agenda around their religious beliefs.</p> <p>The VVS audience also applauded the recent <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/troubling-arizona-ruling">Arizona Supreme Court decision</a> that a wedding invitation business can claim a religious-freedom right to ignore antidiscrimination laws and turn away same-sex couples. One of the business’ owners was at VVS along with other clients and an attorney from Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a conservative Christian legal group that represents a slew of businesses seeking a similar right to discriminate.</p> <p>Another ADF client – Harris Funeral Homes in Michigan – was a frequent topic of discussion at VVS. Just days before the summit started, <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/AU-at-court">the business and ADF went before the Supreme Court</a> seeking the right to fire LGBTQ employees like Aimee Stephens, who was fired by Harris Funeral Homes because she came out as a transgender woman, which apparently conflicted with her boss’s religious beliefs.</p> <p>Fear-mongering about transgender people was a common refrain at VVS. For instance – this ridiculous claim by Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas): “If the plaintiffs win this case before the Supreme Court, that first part of the First Amendment will be gone. You will not have the freedom to believe what Moses and Jesus said about sexuality.”</p> <p>Regardless of whether the Supreme Court affirms that LGBTQ people have federal protection from workplace discrimination, Gohmert and his ilk will have the right to believe whatever they want about sexual orientation, gender identity and their faith. Then as now, they just won’t have the right to weaponize their faith in ways that harm others or force others to live by their beliefs.</p> <p>That’s why Metaxas’ ode to church-state separation was a short-lived breath of fresh air at VVS. The event drives home that attacks on religious freedom aren’t going away – so it’s a great time <a href="https://www.au.org/become-a-member">to join AU</a> and help us defend the separation of religion and government.</p> <p><em>PHOTO: Eric Metaxas, a conservative radio show host and author, at the Values Voter Summit.</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/government-support-of-religion" hreflang="en">Government Support Of Religion</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> </div> Thu, 17 Oct 2019 16:33:55 +0000 LHayes 15814 at https://www.au.org Ralph Reed Is Telling Christians They Must Support Trump. Some Aren’t Buying It. https://www.au.org/blogs/ralph-reed-book <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Ralph Reed Is Telling Christians They Must Support Trump. Some Aren’t Buying It. </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, 10/16/2019 - 09:54</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/R%20Reed%2010.16.19.PNG?h=d4158428&amp;itok=CBy3TqsE" width="1700" height="525" alt="Ralph Reed " title="R Reed " typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>Ralph Reed has a fawning new book coming out explaining why every Christian has a duty to fall in lock-step behind President Donald Trump.</p> <p>In case you’ve forgotten, Reed came to prominence as the executive director of TV preacher Pat Robertson’s Christian Coalition in the late 1980s. In that position, he was famous for his scorched-earth political tactics and once boasted about putting his opponents in a <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/january-2002-church-state/featured/guerillas-and-bodybags-and-sharksoh-my">“body bag.”</a></p> <p>Reed ran the group for a number of years but jumped ship shortly before Robertson lost interest and pulled its funding. He went on to become a political consultant and got enmeshed in a <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/march-2006-church-state/featured/wheel-of-misfortune">sleazy scandal</a> involving disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. (In 2002, Reed received $5 million from Abramoff to oppose a casino proposed by the Jena Band of Choctaw Indians in Louisiana. Reed got several high-profile Religious Right leaders to oppose the casino on moral grounds, but Reed never bothered to tell them that Abramoff’s clients were a rival band of Native Americans, the Coushatta, who already operated a casino and didn’t want any competition.)</p> <p>Since then, Reed <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/september-2006-church-state/people-events/republican-voters-reject-ralph-reed-in">ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor of Georgia</a> and even penned a few political-thriller novels. But in 2009 he decided to go back to his roots and formed a Religious Right group called the Faith &amp; Freedom Coalition.</p> <p><em>Politico </em>reports that in the book, which is due out in April, <a href="https://www.politico.com/news/2019/10/09/ralph-reed-trump-book-040920">Reed asserts</a> that Christians “have a moral obligation to enthusiastically back” Trump. The book is titled <em>For God and Country: The Christian case for Trump</em>, but its original title, believe it or not, was <em>Render to God and Trump</em>.</p> <p>Since Trump’s political rise, some observers have asked what it would take for conservative evangelicals to criticize him. While a few Christian nationalist groups issued mildly critical statements after Trump left the U.S.’s Kurdish allies in Syria to the mercy of the Turks and Russians and enabled the return of the ISIS terror network, David Brody, a correspondent for Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network, told <em>The Washington Post</em> Trump’s decision would likely have little impact on evangelical support.</p> <p>“Evangelicals see this decision as a punch to the gut, but punches to the gut don’t always have a lasting effect,” <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trumps-syria-decision-tests-the-bounds-of-republican-support-as-he-demands-solidarity-on-impeachment/2019/10/09/b5f0c8b0-eaaa-11e9-85c0-85a098e47b37_story.html">Brody said</a>. He called the matter “a mini-crisis” for Trump but added, “The president has done so much for evangelicals, in terms of judges and legislation, that this Syria decision isn’t going to be the death knell.”</p> <p>Indeed, evangelist Franklin Graham, perhaps the most obsequious of Trump’s right-wing evangelical minions, is currently <a href="https://www.apnews.com/5cfef4941efd4d23b06f7b4db8ca546a">touring the country</a> telling his followers that it’s no big deal that Trump tried to get the president of Ukraine to meddle in the 2020 election by digging up dirt on his main rival, former Vice President Joe Biden. It’s all a set-up, you see?</p> <p><a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/trump-administration-speeches">As we noted yesterday</a>, Trump and members of his administration spent this weekend giving speeches portraying themselves as great defenders of the Christian faith and, in the case of Attorney General William Barr, assailing the very secular government that makes religious freedom possible. With Trump facing an impeachment inquiry that may metastasize, the White House’s strategy is clear: rally Trump’s base by portraying him as a victim and remind far-right evangelicals how much he has done for them.</p> <p>Some Christians have <a href="https://www.redletterchristians.org/christians-in-support-of-the-impeachment-inquiry/">criticized the Religious Right’s unbridled worship of Trump</a>, as have some secular observers of religion in public life. One of them is Tom Krattenmaker, director of communications at Yale Divinity School. <a href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2019/10/11/trump-impeachment-evangelicals-reject-blind-loyalty-break-away-column/3919956002/">In a recent <em>USA Today</em> column</a>, Krattenmaker pointed out that impeachment is an attempt to hold Trump accountable for offenses against the Constitution he may have committed, not an attack on anyone’s faith.</p> <p>“This is a dangerous moment that requires the best of us,” Krattenmaker observed. “It’s time for cool heads, high principle and sober regard for the gravity of the moment.”</p> <p>He’s right. Sadly, many conservative American evangelicals, by listening to hucksters like Reed, have repeatedly shown they’re lacking all three of those things.</p> <p><em>Photo: Ralph Reed speaks to the Faith &amp; Freedom Coalition. Screenshot via </em>The Hill<em> newspaper. </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/ralph-reed" hreflang="en">ralph reed</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/pat-robertson" hreflang="en">Pat Robertson</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/faith-freedom-coalition" hreflang="en">Faith &amp; Freedom Coalition</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/christian-coalition" hreflang="en">Christian Coalition</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/jack-abramoff" hreflang="en">Jack Abramoff</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/georgia" hreflang="en">Georgia</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/william-barr" hreflang="en">William Barr</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/david-brody" hreflang="en">David Brody</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/franklin-graham" hreflang="en">Franklin Graham</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 class="item"><a href="/tags/ukraine" hreflang="en">Ukraine</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/evangelical-christianity" hreflang="en">Evangelical Christianity</a></div> </div> </div> Wed, 16 Oct 2019 13:54:10 +0000 boston 15813 at https://www.au.org Under Growing Scrutiny For Misdeeds, The Trump Administration Embraces Christian Nationalism https://www.au.org/blogs/trump-administration-speeches <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Under Growing Scrutiny For Misdeeds, The Trump Administration Embraces Christian Nationalism</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, 10/15/2019 - 09:58</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/barr%20nd%2010.15.19.PNG?h=a72bdba1&amp;itok=LXr65TCx" width="1700" height="525" alt="Barr at Notre Dame" title="Barr at Notre Dame " typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>High-ranking members of the Trump administration, as well as the president himself, have gone on a tear lately about how “Christian” this administration is and how they’re defending faith. This is probably not a coincidence, given the current events around the impeachment investigation.</p> <p>First out of the gate was Attorney General William Barr, <a href="https://www.justice.gov/opa/speech/attorney-general-william-p-barr-delivers-remarks-law-school-and-de-nicola-center-ethics">who gave a speech</a> at the University of Notre Dame Friday that can only be described as appalling. Barr attacked secular government – the very thing guaranteed to by our Constitution – and argued that “militant secularists” have spawned a host of social ills.</p> <p>That was bad enough, but consider this line: “In short, in the Framers’ view, free government was only suitable and sustainable for a religious people – a people who recognized that there was a transcendent moral order antecedent to both the state and manmade law and who had the discipline to control themselves according to those enduring principles.”</p> <p>Barr blithely told millions of Americans who are non-religious that their government does not care about them, indeed that they have no place in this country. It’s an alarming stance for the nation’s chief law enforcement officer to take.</p> <p>Syndicated columnist Catherine Rampell rightly <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/welcome-to-the-resistance-bill-barr/2019/10/14/da24cd20-eec0-11e9-8693-f487e46784aa_story.html">called Barr’s speech</a> “a tacit endorsement of theocracy.” (Bear in mind, Barr is a repeat offender. He gave <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/january-2019-church-state/featured/seeking-gods-law-past-statements-by-attorney">similar talks bashing secular government</a> when he served as attorney general during the administration of President George H.W. Bush.)</p> <p>The same day, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addressed a gathering of the American Association of Christian Counselors in Nashville. Pompeo’s speech, titled <a href="https://www.state.gov/being-a-christian-leader/">“Being a Christian Leader,”</a> was prominently featured on the State Department’s home page. In the speech, Pompeo openly boasted about making decisions based on his interpretation of Christian principles – an interpretation that millions of Americans, including many who are Christian, disagree with.</p> <p>As AU President and CEO Rachel Laser <a href="https://www.au.org/media/press-releases/americans-united-us-state-department-declaring-secretary-pompeo-a-christian">put it</a>, “Secretary Pompeo’s speech on how being a Christian leader informs his decision-making and the posting of the speech on the State Department website send the clear message that U.S. public policy will be guided by his personal religious beliefs.”</p> <p>The following day, Trump attended a banquet during the Values Voter Summit, an annual gathering of the Religious Right in Washington, D.C., during which he defended his administration’s policy in Syria against charges that the U.S. has abandoned our allies the Kurds and the country’s Christian minority and given new life to the terror group ISIS. Trump, who portrayed himself as a great champion of Christian values, was received like a conquering hero.</p> <p>“Now, powered by those same historic values that have always defined our nation, we will reach new heights, make new breakthroughs and we will strengthen the bonds of love and loyalty that unite us all as citizens, as neighbors, as patriots, as Christians, as people of faith,” Trump said at the conclusion of his speech. “As one people, one nation and one United States of America, we will stand as a light of liberty, a land of courage and a home for proud people of faith. Forever and always, Americans will believe in the cause of freedom, the power of prayer and the eternal glory of God.”</p> <p>You don’t have to be a cynic to question the timing of this eruption of God talk. We have an administration that claims to be championing Christian values at a time when news headlines every day expose more rot and corruption within it.</p> <p>There’s a great irony here. Consider Barr’s speech, during which he quoted a line from John Adams, the second president of the United States. It’s a line Christian nationalists love to cite, although they wrench it from context.</p> <p>“Our Constitution,” Adams wrote to the militia of Massachusetts in 1798, “was made only for a moral and religious People. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”</p> <p>Note that Adams, a Unitarian who was skeptical of familiar Christian concepts such as the Trinity and the divinity of Christ, speaks of morality <em>and</em> religion. Perhaps that’s because he knew that claims to religiosity alone were not enough; they had to be backed by actual moral behavior.</p> <p>Thinking along those lines, there's a passage from the same Adams letter that Christian nationalists never quote but that seems especially relevant today: “Avarice, ambition, and revenge … would break the strongest cords of our Constitution, as a whale goes through a net.”</p> <p>In the weeks and months to come, members of this administration may try to break the cords of our Constitution while portraying themselves as pious defenders of the faith. It’s a classic diversionary tactic, and Americans United will be on hand to expose it every time.</p> <p>“Church-state separation means that government cannot favor one religion over others, or religion over nonreligion,” Laser said. “It means we are governed by our shared secular values, not the privileged religious views of some. Americans United will continue to hold this administration accountable to our country’s promise of religious freedom for all.”</p> <p>Count on it.</p> <p><em>Photo: Attorney General Barr speaking at the University of Notre Dame. Screenshot from</em> The Wall Street Journal</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/history-and-origins-of-church-state-separation" hreflang="en">History and Origins of Church-State Separation</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/government-support-of-religion" hreflang="en">Government Support Of Religion</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Tags</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/william-barr" hreflang="en">William Barr</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/donald-trump" hreflang="en">Donald Trump</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/mike-pompeo" hreflang="en">Mike Pompeo</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/values-voter-summit" hreflang="en">Values Voter Summit</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/university-of-notre-dame" hreflang="en">University of Notre Dame</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/john-adams" hreflang="en">John Adams</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/christian-nation-myth" hreflang="en">Christian nation myth</a></div> </div> </div> Tue, 15 Oct 2019 13:58:15 +0000 boston 15812 at https://www.au.org Times Got You Down? Try This Uplifting Film. https://www.au.org/blogs/american-heretics-film <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Times Got You Down? Try This Uplifting Film. </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, 10/11/2019 - 08:28</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/about/people/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/RKL%20at%20newseum%202%20cropped%2C%2010.11.19.jpg?h=04ea23fe&amp;itok=hAtRZ_2V" width="1700" height="525" alt="American Heretics " title="panel " 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:</em> <em>This blog post by AU President and CEO Rachel Laser originally appeared in the </em><a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/october-2019-church-state-magazine">October 2019 issue</a><em> of AU's </em>Church &amp; State<em> magazine.</em></p> <p>These days, solidly under the reign of President Don­ald Trump and a new judiciary that he has helped shape, it can easily feel like the country is going rogue on our commitment to religious freedom for all.</p> <p>We’ve heard Trump’s key spiritual adviser, tele­vangelist Paula White, brag about dedicating the White House as a “holy ground” sanctified by the “superior blood of Jesus.” We’ve fought a Department of Labor proposed rule to allow federal contractors (private and nonprofit) claiming to be religiously based to fire anyone who doesn’t pass their religious litmus test. We’ve sued on behalf of nontheists excluded from delivering invocations in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and criticized the recent ruling from the federal appeals court allowing this unconsti­tutional practice to continue based on “tradition.”</p> <p>These things and too many others tell us that we are living through a cultural and legal moment of constant assaults on the freedom of conscience our founders enshrined in the First Amendment of our Constitution.</p> <p>In this context, I found great joy participating in a Sept. 6 panel discussion at the Newseum’s Religious Freedom Center in Washington, D.C., following a showing of the hope-filled documentary “<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GtJp5hkatMk">American Heretics: The Politics of the Gospel</a>.”</p> <p>Also on the panel were three individuals featured in the film: the Rev. Marlin Lavanhar, a trail­blazing progres­sive Unitarian minister; Bishop Carlton Pearson, a former leader in the conservative evangelical movement turned moral defender of equality for all, and Dr. Robby P. Jones, founder and CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute, an indepen­dent research organization at the intersection of reli­gion, culture and public policy. Former Ambassador of International Religious Freedom Sujay Johnson Cook was the facilitator.</p> <p>If films could preach, this one would be pounding its fist on the pulpit proclaiming, red in the face, that the com­plexion of religion in America, even in Oklahoma, is chang­ing. It shared the story of two congregations, May­flower Congregational United Church of Christ Church in Oklahoma City and All Souls Unitarian Church in Tulsa, which are thriving not in spite of but because of their commitment to inclusion and equality both within their respective walls and throughout their state.</p> <p>Lest you think that these two churches represent outliers in terms of change, Jones shared a recent survey that shows the religiously “unaffiliated” now out­number white evangelicals in Oklahoma 28 percent to 23 percent!</p> <p>You can imagine the fear this is engendering in many conservative white evangelicals, who historically (and still) hold great power. But this film showed that those who have not traditionally had a seat at the table are in­creasingly insisting that they get one – even in Okla­homa. One of many uplifting moments in the film was when the Rev. Lori Walke of Mayflower church, with a little help from her husband, state Rep. Collin Walke, a Democratic mem­ber of the Okla­ho­ma House of Rep­re­sentatives, succeeded at last in de­livering an inclusive invocation before the state legislature. </p> <p>In short, the film celebrated the continuing rise of a truly religiously pluralistic America. (To learn more, visit <a href="http://www.americanhereticsthefilm.com">www.americanhereticsthefilm.com</a>.)</p> <p>It is our fundamental commitment to religious free­dom that enables the rise of the religiously unaffiliated and the “conversion” of folks like Bishop Pearson. In fact, almost all of the clergy appearing in the film had altered their belief systems. Walke, for example, grew up evan­gelical Christian but joined the United Church of Christ after playing basket­ball in college with lesbian teammates.</p> <p>James Madison once spoke of the importance of the “multiplicity of sects,” which, he said, “is the best and only security for religious liberty in any society.”  In other words, it’s bad for religious freedom when one religious sect gets too big and acquires too much power. “Ameri­can Heretics” showcases that these changes in demo­graphics are afoot in America, even deep in the Bible Belt.</p> <p>To that I say, “Amen!”   </p> <p><em>Photo: AU President and CEO Rachel Laser discusses "American Heretics" with Robby Jones, Bishop Carlton Pearson and the Rev. Marlin Lavanhar.</em></p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issues field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Issues</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/religious-freedom" hreflang="en">Religious Freedom</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Tags</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/oklahoma" hreflang="en">Oklahoma</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/unitarianism" hreflang="en">Unitarianism</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/james-madison" hreflang="en">James Madison</a></div> </div> </div> Fri, 11 Oct 2019 12:28:57 +0000 boston 15809 at https://www.au.org On LGBTQ Rights, Justice Gorsuch’s Fears Of ‘Massive Social Upheaval’ Are Baseless https://www.au.org/blogs/massive-social-upheaval <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">On LGBTQ Rights, Justice Gorsuch’s Fears Of ‘Massive Social Upheaval’ Are Baseless</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, 10/10/2019 - 08:51</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/about/people/rob-boston" hreflang="und">Rob Boston</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image"> <label>Image</label> <div class="item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/banner/public/images/blog_post/AU%20Westboro%2C%2010.10.19_0.jpg?h=2c8b3a5d&amp;itok=-HhwK4ZI" width="1700" height="525" alt="AU vs. Westboro" title="AU and Westboro Baptist " typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>Several media accounts indicate that Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch may play a pivotal role in the trio of LGBTQ employment discrimination cases that were argued on Tuesday.</p> <p>Gorsuch sent mixed signals during the arguments. At one point, he referred to the employment issue as a <a href="https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2019-10-08/justices-hear-oral-arguments-about-whether-existing-sex-discrimination-laws-protects-lgbtq-workers">“really close” call</a>. But he also fretted that a ruling upholding LGBTQ rights <a href="https://theweek.com/speedreads/870471/neil-gorsuch-fears-massive-social-upheaval-supreme-court-rules-favor-civil-rights-protections-lgbtq-workers">might unleash “massive social upheaval.”</a></p> <p>Gorsuch’s use of that phrase should concern us. It’s often used by the far-right as a bromide to block any form of progress. It works like this: A proposal is made to extend rights to members of Group A. To this, people with the privilege of already enjoying those rights howl, “We can’t do that! It will spark massive social upheaval!”</p> <p>There are at least three things wrong with the argument:</p> <p><em>It’s demonstrably untrue:</em> As you are reading these words, 21 states, the District of Columbia and numerous counties and cities already have laws on the books protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination in employment. (In addition, roughly two million full-time federal employees have had these same protections for years.) Massive social upheaval has not destroyed these places. In fact, by demonstrating their welcoming, open and tolerant attitude, many of the communities with LGBTQ-friendly policies have attracted good, high-paying jobs and are considered highly desirable places to live. Ensuring that LGBTQ people nationwide have the same equal protections simply makes good sense.</p> <p><em>The right-wing always says that:</em> The “massive social upheaval” bogeyman is pressed into service every time members of a marginalized group seek equality. We heard it from racists who fought civil rights in the Jim Crow South. We heard it from chauvinists during the women’s rights movement. We heard it from religious fundamentalists during the gay rights movement. Most recently, we heard it before and after the Supreme Court upheld marriage equality in 2015. Remember what the Religious Right said about that decision? The country was supposed to have <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/december-2014-church-state/featured/apocalypse-now">collapsed by now</a>!</p> <p><em>Threats of disruption don’t justify taking away the rights of others: </em>People have certain inherent natural rights. These rights are not yanked away, ignored or subjugated because another faction vows to throw a fit. If the fear of sparking “massive social upheaval” were all it took to nullify basic freedoms, we’d never move forward.</p> <p>Now, it is true that when we seek to expand rights in America, there's always a pushback. And on some occasions, violence does erupt, such as during the civil rights era. But we do it anyway – <em>because it is the right thing to do</em>. The proper answer to people who refuse to accept the rights of others and who employ violence in an attempt to deny those rights is to use the legal and law enforcement systems to make them stop. We don’t give in to extremists because they’re threatening to go out and riot. </p> <p>To be sure, if the Supreme Court stands on the right side of history in these cases, there will be plenty of grumbling from Christian nationalists. That’s to be expected. These forces have opposed virtually every advance in human rights since the founding of the country. We must continue moving forward, unfazed by baseless fears of social upheaval, massive or otherwise.  </p> <p><em>Photo: Americans United staffers rally in front of members of Westboro Baptist Church outside the U.S. Supreme Court.</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/employment-discrimination" hreflang="en">Employment Discrimination</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/westboro-baptist-church" hreflang="en">Westboro Baptist Church</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/neil-gorsuch" hreflang="en">Neil Gorsuch</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/civil-rights" hreflang="en">Civil Rights</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/supreme-court" hreflang="en">Supreme Court</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/churches-and-gay-marriage" hreflang="en">churches and gay marriage</a></div> </div> </div> Thu, 10 Oct 2019 12:51:16 +0000 boston 15806 at https://www.au.org Americans United Joins Call For LGBTQ Equality At Supreme Court https://www.au.org/blogs/AU-at-court <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Americans United Joins Call For LGBTQ Equality At Supreme Court</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/95" lang="" about="/user/95" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">boston</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Wed, 10/09/2019 - 12:41</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/RKL%20LGBTQ%20rally%20oct%2019%20cropped.jpg?h=66b2eb16&amp;itok=SZBxSf_S" width="1700" height="525" alt="Rachel Laser" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>You could feel the energy outside the U.S. Supreme Court yesterday as Americans United and other groups rallied to defend LGBTQ rights.</p> <p>The high court <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/08/politics/supreme-court-lgbtq-arguments/index.html">heard oral arguments</a> in three important cases dealing with LGBTQ rights and employment discrimination. The stakes are high: The outcome of these cases could affect the rights of millions of Americans.</p> <p>A wide array of people came together to call on the court not to turn back the clock on LGBTQ rights. A small contingent from the homophobic Westboro Baptist Church waved their usual pathetic signs threatening hellfire, but they were vastly outnumbered by men and women of various colors, beliefs, genders and sexual identities who presented the real face of America today – an incredible mosaic where all are valued and none suffer on account of who they are or who they love. It was inspiring to see and hear them.</p> <p>AU President and CEO Rachel Laser was among the speakers.</p> <p>“Today, we call on the Supreme Court to affirm that our equality and ability to fully participate in society should not hinge on our boss’s religious beliefs, or anyone else’s,” Laser said. “The religious freedom enshrined in our Constitution is meant to protect the right to practice any religion, or no religion at all, without harming others.”</p> <p>You can read the full text of Laser’s <a href="https://www.au.org/media/press-releases/americans-united-ceo-rachel-laser-urges-supreme-court-to-affirm-lgbtq-equality">remarks here</a> and watch a video of her delivering <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IJs-GVlEYHU&amp;feature=youtu.be">them here</a>:</p> <center><iframe allowfullscreen="" height="450" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/IJs-GVlEYHU" width="560"></iframe></center> <p><a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/LGBTQ-cases-court">As we noted last week</a>, the high court is examining the fairly narrow question of whether a federal 1964 civil rights law that bans employment discrimination on the basis of sex protects LGBTQ people. But church-state issues are clearly implicated in these cases because so much of the animus that LGBTQ people face in society, which includes job insecurity, springs from religiously based opposition to LGBTQ rights.</p> <p>We hope the court will come down on the right side of history and rule that employment discrimination is always wrong, especially when it attempts to use “religious freedom” as a justification.</p> <p>P.S. You can take a stand against employment discrimination based on bogus interpretations of “religious freedom” by signing <a href="https://secure.everyaction.com/X6IY0j93CEuBeZCeSnfelg2?emci=8bc48e93-f4e9-e911-b5e9-2818784d6d68&amp;emdi=8cc48e93-f4e9-e911-b5e9-2818784d6d68&amp;ceid=3850489&amp;contactdata=oKhOGimyLHdJyn%2bi46YU2KV80luBb4cAzFb6cQQXkwD%2f%2fchrzHmZRQUOc3mPpNDA3cOuTd8Bw8eJUV3H7hYls1ZRkPdh0A1paGBJkTa%2fs5I8kb8TTLmbPRE8o0YuOQx2fwAtLw3UfvIWVGJzFvV2gGQ%2b4rDKqrHw2jRR1xB9UiYYo3%2bWlIezAjxnI4uIup799reoZUdEwYRTfmg2f%2f8dvw%3d%3d">this AU petition</a>.</p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issues field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Issues</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/discrimination-in-the-name-of-religion" hreflang="en">Discrimination In The Name of Religion</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/employment-discrimination" hreflang="en">Employment Discrimination</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/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/supreme-court" hreflang="en">Supreme Court</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/westboro-baptist-church" hreflang="en">Westboro Baptist Church</a></div> </div> </div> Wed, 09 Oct 2019 16:41:55 +0000 boston 15805 at https://www.au.org Judge-Sponsored Bible Distribution Doesn’t Belong In America’s Courtrooms https://www.au.org/blogs/texas-judge-bible <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Judge-Sponsored Bible Distribution Doesn’t Belong In America’s Courtrooms</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, 10/07/2019 - 10:57</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/about/people/rob-boston" hreflang="und">Rob Boston</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image"> <label>Image</label> <div class="item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/banner/public/images/blog_post/kemp%202.PNG?h=a7d7aaf1&amp;itok=b_oXJDyk" width="1700" height="525" alt="Judge Kemp" title="Kemp" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>A recent case involving a former police officer in Dallas who shot and killed an unarmed man in the man’s own apartment has captured national headlines – and sparked a debate over separation of church and state.</p> <p>The ex-offcer, Amber Guyger, shot Botham Jean after accidentally entering his apartment. Guyger testified that she believed she was in her own apartment and thought Jean, who was sitting on his couch eating ice cream, was an intruder.</p> <p>A jury found Guyger guilty of murder. During the sentencing phase, things took an unexpected turn when Jean’s brother, Brandt, announced that he had forgiven Guyger and asked Texas District Judge Tammy Kemp, who presided over the trial and sentenced Guyger to 10 years in prison, if he could hug Guyger.</p> <p>Kemp allowed the hug and also stepped down from the bench to hug Guyger as well. She then left the courtroom but <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/04/us/amber-guyger-judge-tammy-kemp-hug.html">quickly came back with a Bible</a>. She handed it to Guyger and said, “This is your job.” Kemp pointed to the passage John 3:16, a favorite among evangelicals, and said, “You just need a tiny mustard seed of faith. You start with this.”</p> <p>Kemp told Guyger she could keep the Bible because she owned several, adding, “You haven’t done so much that you can’t be forgiven. You did something bad in one moment in time. What you do <em>now</em> matters.”</p> <p>It was undoubtedly an emotional moment, but some observers believe Kemp went too far, pointing out that her job in the courtroom is to act in an impartial, even-handed manner and not proselytize for her faith.</p> <p>Allegorical representations of Justice show the figure wearing a blindfold for a reason: Justice is supposed to be blind to all comers. If you’re accused of a crime, you’re to be judged fairly despite your race, age, gender, sex, social status or religious beliefs (or lack thereof.) That’s the ideal, anyway. It may be hard to reach every time, but we strive for it. This kind of fairness is a cornerstone of our judicial system.</p> <p>By proselytizing in the courtroom, Kemp has broken that promise of equality and very likely signaled that, in the future, those who share her faith or are willing to adopt it might receive preferential treatment.</p> <p>AU President and CEO Rachel Laser put it well, <a href="https://www.huffpost.com/entry/tammy-kemp-amber-guyger-bible_n_5d975c9fe4b0f5bf7973da1d">telling The Huffington Post</a>, “By distributing a Bible and telling the defendant it is her ‘job’ to read a religious text as she’s on her way to prison, Judge Kemp has sent a message to all defendants who come before her that their religious beliefs could affect the outcomes of their cases and their sentences.”</p> <p>That’s it exactly. Fairness and equal treatment are hallmarks of our system of justice. They must be present in every courtroom. Religious proselytism, by contrast, has no place there.</p> <p><em>(Photo: Judge Kemp with Amber Guyger. Screenshot from courtroom video)</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/courts-0" hreflang="en">courts</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/texas" hreflang="en">Texas</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/bibles" hreflang="en">Bibles</a></div> </div> </div> Mon, 07 Oct 2019 14:57:23 +0000 boston 15803 at https://www.au.org Americans Are Increasingly Supporting LGBTQ Rights. Will The Supreme Court? https://www.au.org/blogs/LGBTQ-cases-court <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Americans Are Increasingly Supporting LGBTQ Rights. Will The Supreme Court? </span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/95" lang="" about="/user/95" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">boston</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Thu, 10/03/2019 - 09:37</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/Aimee%20Stephens%20and%20spouse%20cropped%2C%2010.3.19.jpg?h=a979a5ee&amp;itok=9F1Q_Spw" width="1700" height="525" alt="Aimee Stephens and Donna " title="A Stephens " typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday will hear <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/october-2019-church-state-magazine/featured/crucial-cases-high-court-to-deliberate">a trio of important cases</a> dealing with LGBTQ rights. The day of the argument, AU President and CEO Rachel Laser will be among dozens of speakers advocating for LGBTQ rights outside the court.</p> <p>Two of the cases, which will be argued jointly, were brought respectively by Donald Zarda and Gerald Bostock, two men who were fired from their jobs because they’re gay. The third case focuses on Aimee Stephens, a transgender woman in Michigan who was fired from her job at a funeral home because the owner said  her dressing as a woman conflicted with his religious beliefs.</p> <p>Although these are not church-state cases – the high court is limiting itself to deciding whether a federal 1964 law that bans employment discrimination on the basis of sex includes LGBTQ people – the issue of religion is percolating in the background. Religiously based opposition to LGBTQ rights fuels much of the discrimination members of that community face.</p> <p>In advance of the arguments, Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) has pulled together <a href="https://www.prri.org/spotlight/americans-show-widespread-support-for-lgbt-nondiscrimination-protections-and-transgender-rights/">some interesting data</a> about how Americans view LGBTQ rights. The good news is that support for these rights is on the upswing: Sixty-nine percent say they favor laws that would protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in jobs, public accommodations and housing.</p> <p>PRRI found some interesting data about how this breaks down by religion. Unitarian Universalists show the highest degree of support for LGBTQ rights, at 90 percent. Jews are second, coming in at 80 percent, followed by the religiously unaffiliated at 78 percent. Hispanic Catholics hit 72 percent and white Catholics come in at 71 percent. They’re followed by white mainline Protestants at 71 percent, and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at 70 percent.</p> <p>Some of the lowest support came, not surprisingly, from white evangelical Protestants, but even there we see a majority of 54 percent backing protections.</p> <p>PRRI polled Americans specifically about their views on transgender rights in June. The firm found growing support there as well.  Sixty-two percent of Americans say they have become more supportive of transgender rights than they were five years ago. (Twenty-five percent are less supportive.)</p> <p>When it comes to religion, PRRI reported, “Majorities of every major religious group report becoming more supportive of transgender rights over the last five years. Even among white evangelical Protestants, slightly more than half (52%) report becoming more supportive of transgender rights over the last five years.”</p> <p>The shift in public opinion on issues such as LGBTQ rights, marriage equality and trans rights since the 1990s has been nothing short of seismic. The Supreme Court should follow the public’s lead and come down on the right side of history in these new cases by solidifying critical non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people. And regardless of the outcome, it’s also imperative that Congress pass the <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/june-2019-church-state-magazine/people-events/americans-united-announces-support-for">Equality Act</a> to address the significant gaps in federal civil rights laws and improve protections for everyone.</p> <p>In order for America to live up to its promise of liberty, equality and inclusion, we must ensure religious freedom continues to be a shield to protect, rather than a sword to harm others.</p> <p><em>Photo: Aimee Stephens (r) with her spouse Donna. Photo courtesy ACLU. </em></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/lgbtq-rights" hreflang="en">LGBTQ Rights</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/discrimination-in-the-name-of-religion" hreflang="en">Discrimination In The Name of Religion</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/employment-discrimination" hreflang="en">Employment Discrimination</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Tags</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/aimee-stephens" hreflang="en">Aimee Stephens</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/supreme-court" hreflang="en">Supreme Court</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/public-religion-research-prri" hreflang="en">Public Religion Research (PRRI)</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/polls" hreflang="en">polls</a></div> </div> </div> Thu, 03 Oct 2019 13:37:14 +0000 boston 15801 at https://www.au.org