The Wall of Separation Blog https://www.au.org/blogs/feed en AU’s Top 10 Of 2019 – No. 6: Blocking Trump’s Denial Of Care Rule In Court https://www.au.org/blogs/Top-10-Denial-Of-Care <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">AU’s Top 10 Of 2019 – No. 6: Blocking Trump’s Denial Of Care Rule In 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">Fri, 12/13/2019 - 10:25</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/couple%20with%20doctor%20in%20hospital%20.jpg?h=2853d1e6&amp;itok=oFRULEVG" width="1700" height="525" alt="couple with doctor " title="hospital scene " 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: The constitutional principle of religious freedom has been undermined like never before under the Trump administration. This year we have seen unprecedented attacks on reproductive freedom and LGBTQ equality, and an erosion of church-state separation that threatens religious minorities and the nonreligious in America.</em></p> <p><em>As the new year approaches, we’re taking a look back at the Top 10 church-state separation issues of 2019 – and how AU has led the charge against these blatant violations of our Constitution.</em></p> <p>Americans United and our allies scored a major victory when we successfully blocked the Trump administration’s dangerous <a href="https://www.au.org/tags/denial-of-care-rule">Denial of Care Rule</a> from going into effect in November.</p> <p>The rule invited all health care workers to deny care to any patient because of religious beliefs, putting everyone’s health at risk and violating religious freedom. People seeking reproductive health care, LGBTQ people, and religious minorities are the intended targets, but the Denial of Care Rule doesn’t stop there. It is so broad that all of us – including sick children, pregnant women and senior citizens – are at risk.</p> <p>That’s why, within days of the Department of Health and Human Services issuing the rule last May, Americans United joined allies in filing two lawsuits to challenge this unconstitutional and unlawful rule. Our cases included:</p> <ul><li><em><a href="https://www.au.org/media/press-releases/americans-united-center-for-reproductive-rights-and-lambda-legal-sue-trump">County of Santa Clara v. HHS</a></em>, which was filed in California with 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><em><a href="https://www.au.org/media/press-releases/americans-united-joins-baltimore-to-sue-trump-administration-to-block-the">Mayor and City Council of Baltimore v. Azar</a></em>, which was filed in Maryland in conjunction with the Baltimore City Solicitor. The case explained that 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>In our Santa Clara case and two others, U.S. District Judge William Alsup on Nov. 19 became the <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/Denial-of-Care-Rule-Blocked">third federal judge to throw out the Denial of Care Rule</a> in its entirety and block it from going into effect. “When a rule is so saturated with error, as here, there is no point in trying to sever the problematic provisions. The whole rule must go,” Alsup wrote.</p> <p>While the judges have protected patients by preventing the Denial of Care Rule from going into effect, we know the Trump administration is likely to appeal. While our court battles continue, we’re also <a href="https://www.au.org/media/press-releases/americans-united-applauds-members-of-congress-for-introducing-put-patients">supporting the Put Patients First Act</a>, which also would block the Denial of Care Rule. This bill was introduced on Nov. 12 by Reps. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Chris Pappas (D-N.H.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.). It’s more important than ever that Congress enact extra safeguards to protect people’s health and fundamental rights.</p> <p>Americans United will continue to fight the Trump administration’s Denial of Care Rule and other policies that would misuse our fundamental principle of religious freedom to harm others. <a href="https://www.au.org/become-a-member">Join us</a>!</p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issues field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Issues</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/denials-of-health-care" hreflang="en">Denials of Health Care</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/discrimination-in-the-name-of-religion" hreflang="en">Discrimination In The Name of Religion</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/government-funded-discrimination" hreflang="en">Government-Funded Discrimination</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/lgbtq-rights" hreflang="en">LGBTQ Rights</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/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/denial-of-care-rule" hreflang="en">Denial of Care Rule</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/trump-administration" hreflang="en">Trump Administration</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/california" hreflang="en">California</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/maryland" hreflang="en">Maryland</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/dept-of-health-and-human-services" hreflang="en">Dept. of Health and Human Services</a></div> </div> </div> Fri, 13 Dec 2019 15:25:14 +0000 boston 15920 at https://www.au.org AU’s Top 10 Of 2019 – No. 7: Battling Project Blitz In The States https://www.au.org/blogs/Top-10-Project-Blitz <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">AU’s Top 10 Of 2019 – No. 7: Battling Project Blitz In The States</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, 12/12/2019 - 09:43</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/Bible%20in%20Classroom%20cropped_6.jpg?h=aedb0ea4&amp;itok=8iP-lB2V" width="1700" height="525" alt="Bible in classroom" 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: The constitutional principle of religious freedom has been undermined like never before under the Trump administration. This year we have seen unprecedented attacks on reproductive freedom and LGBTQ equality, and an erosion of church-state separation that threatens religious minorities and the nonreligious in America.</em></p> <p><em>As the new year approaches, we’re taking a look back at the Top 10 church-state separation issues of 2019 – and how AU has led the charge against these blatant violations of our Constitution.</em></p> <p>This year, Americans United led social justice and faith groups to expose <a href="https://www.au.org/tags/project-blitz">Project Blitz</a>, the Christian nationalist political movement to undermine church-state separation, turn the U.S. into an officially “Christian nation” and roll back positive social change by misusing religious freedom to discriminate.</p> <p>We kicked off 2019 by bringing together a broad coalition of prominent religious, civil rights, secular, LGBTQ and reproductive freedom organizations to urge state lawmakers across the country to oppose Project Blitz legislation. The organizations <a href="https://www.au.org/media/press-releases/leading-religious-civil-rights-secular-groups-unite-against-national-effort-to">issued a national statement</a> in January warning legislators of Project Blitz’s alarming effort to transform religious freedom from a shield that protects people to a sword used to harm others, especially women, LGBTQ people, religious minorities and the nonreligious.</p> <p>AU also <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uk58CmkfSuA">produced this video</a> to explain Project Blitz organizers’ strategy of passing an increasingly ambitious set of state laws, starting with <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/project-blitz-wants-to-bring-bible-class-to-a-public-school-near-you">bills that coerce public schoolchildren</a> to believe in the Christian god by requiring public schools to prominently display “In God We Trust” and establish Bible classes. Project Blitz then escalates to laws that would permit religion to be used to justify discrimination.</p> <p>“In God We Trust” display bills and “Bible literacy” class bills each were introduced in about a dozen states this year, with at least one of these bills becoming law in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/october-2019-church-state-magazine/people-events/ky-schools-post-dollars-to-meet-new">Kentucky</a> and <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/south-dakota-students-get-what-their-lawmakers-dont-in-god-we-trust-doesnt">South Dakota</a>. President Donald Trump tried to give these bills a boost by <a href="https://twitter.com/americansunited/status/1089908417823690760">tweeting</a> about the Bible class efforts in late January, but his support may’ve backfired.</p> <p>The president’s tweet led to a lot of reporters reaching out to Americans United to explain the problem with Bible class and related Project Blitz bills. Coverage included <a href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/education/2019/01/23/in-god-we-trust-bible-public-school-christian-lawmakers/2614567002/"><em>USA Today</em></a>, <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/06/politics/bible-literacy-classes-legislation/index.html">CNN</a>, <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/social-issues/a-conservative-christian-group-is-pushing-bible-classes-in-public-schools-nationwide--and-its-working/2019/05/08/f3bb490e-39e8-11e9-a06c-3ec8ed509d15_story.html"><em>The Washington Post</em></a><em>, </em><a href="https://publicintegrity.org/state-politics/copy-paste-legislate/adoption-centers-the-latest-battleground-for-religious-freedom/">The Center for Public Integrity,</a><em> </em><a href="https://www.salon.com/2019/04/13/the-plot-against-america-inside-the-christian-right-plan-to-remodel-the-nation/"><em>Salon</em></a><em>, </em><a href="https://www.politico.com/newsletters/morning-education/2019/08/13/poll-finds-support-for-bible-studies-in-schools-amid-push-for-more-classes-468080"><em>Politico</em></a><em> </em>and many others. NBC News’ “Think” opinion division<em> </em>reached out to AU President and CEO Rachel Laser to record <a href="https://www.nbcnews.com/think/video/project-blitz-and-the-far-right-s-plan-to-destroy-the-church-state-separation-60687429671">this video</a> about Project Blitz.</p> <center><iframe allowfullscreen="" height="450" src="https://www.nbcnews.com/think/embedded-video/mmvo60687429671" width="560"></iframe></center> <p>The negative coverage of Project Blitz and the efforts of AU and allies to expose its harmful goals may’ve played a role in the campaign’s limited success in 2019: about 20 percent fewer bills were introduced and only six passed, compared to nine in 2018.</p> <p>As a result of the heightened scrutiny and public distaste for Project Blitz’s agenda, organizers are rebranding and going underground to try to continue their legislative assault in the shadows, according to a <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/project-blitz-exposed">November investigation</a> by researcher Fred Clarkson.</p> <p>Even with this setback, we don’t expect we’ve heard the last of Project Blitz. In fact, last month the <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/ohio-religion-bill">Ohio House passed a related bill</a> – one that would encourage students to pray and proselytize in public schools. As AU’s Maggie Garrett told <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/nov/22/ohio-religious-liberty-bill-project-blitz-christian"><em>The Guardian</em></a>, it’s very likely we’ll see more of these bills.</p> <p>Whatever Project Blitz chooses to call itself, Americans United will continue to expose its agenda, which is contrary to our country’s fundamental principle of religious freedom – that everyone is free to practice their faith, or no faith at all, without harming others. <a href="https://www.au.org/become-a-member">Join us</a> so you can help fight against Project Blitz legislation in your state.</p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issues field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Issues</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/government-support-of-religion" hreflang="en">Government Support Of Religion</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/schools" hreflang="en">Schools</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/classroom-instruction" hreflang="en">Classroom Instruction</a></div> <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/project-blitz" hreflang="en">Project Blitz</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/god-we-trust" hreflang="en">in god we trust</a></div> </div> </div> Thu, 12 Dec 2019 14:43:12 +0000 LHayes 15918 at https://www.au.org AU’s Top 10 Of 2019 – No. 8: Taking On The Trump Administration https://www.au.org/blogs/Top-10-Taking-On-Trump <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">AU’s Top 10 Of 2019 – No. 8: Taking On The Trump Administration</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">Wed, 12/11/2019 - 11:29</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/Diverse%20women%20flipped.jpg?h=c71e1f10&amp;itok=8GLWaA3Q" width="1700" height="525" alt="Diverse women" 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: The constitutional principle of religious freedom has been undermined like never before under the Trump administration. This year we have seen unprecedented attacks on reproductive freedom and LGBTQ equality, and an erosion of church-state separation that threatens religious minorities and the nonreligious in America.</em></p> <p><em>As the new year approaches, we’re taking a look back at the Top 10 church-state separation issues of 2019 – and how AU has led the charge against these blatant violations of our Constitution.</em></p> <p>In 2019 – year three of the Donald Trump presidency – Americans United expanded its efforts to stop the Trump administration from misusing religious freedom to harm others and undermining our nation’s fundamental principle of separation of religion and government.</p> <p>AU filed three new federal lawsuits and joined a fourth, bringing our court challenges against the Trump administration to nine:</p> <ul><li>AU filed two lawsuits, one in California and one in Maryland, to challenge Trump’s dangerous <a href="https://www.au.org/tags/denial-of-care-rule">Denial of Care Rule</a>, which invites any health care worker to deny care to any patient on the basis of religious beliefs.</li> <li>AU also represents Aimee Maddonna, a Catholic mother of three who was turned away from volunteering with a taxpayer-funded foster care agency because she’s the wrong kind of Christian. <a href="https://www.au.org/tags/maddonna-v-dept-of-health-and-human-services">We filed a lawsuit on Aimee’s behalf</a> against the Trump administration and South Carolina for allowing taxpayer-funded, faith-based foster care agencies to discriminate.</li> <li><a href="https://www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/cases/marouf-v-azar">AU also joined Lambda Legal</a> in representing Fatma Marouf and Bryn Esplin, a couple from Texas that was turned away from fostering refugee children by a federally funded, faith-based agency that won’t work with married same-sex couples.</li> <li>We continued to work in courts across the country in five pending lawsuits involving Trump’s cruel <a href="https://www.au.org/tags/muslim-ban">Muslim ban</a> and the Trump rules that would allow employers and universities to use religion <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/au-and-allies-sue-trump-administration-and-notre-dame-over-back-door">to deny employees and students access to birth control</a>.</li> </ul><p>AU also called out administration officials who are undermining the separation of religion and government, including Vice President <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/spirited-opposition-to-the-agenda-of-the-religious-right-is-not">Mike Pence</a>, Education Secretary <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/june-2019-church-state-magazine/featured/the-privatizer-betsy-devos-and-her-scheme-to">Betsy DeVos</a>, Secretary of State <a href="https://www.au.org/media/press-releases/americans-united-demands-investigation-of-secretary-of-state-pompeo-dept-of">Mike Pompeo</a>, Attorney General <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/december-2019-church-state-magazine/cover-story/whos-afraid-of-secularism-the-us">William Barr</a>, Faith and Opportunity Initiative adviser <a href="https://www.au.org/media/press-releases/americans-united-denounces-appointment-of-paula-white-to-white-house-faith-and">Paula White</a>, Housing and Urban Development Secretary <a href="https://apnews.com/6dc62d44b0e74ad4bd5528b3d962bbc8">Ben Carson</a> – and of course, <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/november-2019-church-state-magazine/featured/stumping-for-trump">Trump himself</a>.</p> <p>AU also urged Congress to counter Trump’s dangerous agenda with new bills that would help prevent religious freedom from being misused to harm others. We support legislation to protect LGBTQ people, women, vulnerable children, religious minorities and others from discrimination, including the <a href="https://www.au.org/tags/do-no-harm-act">Do No Harm Act</a>, the <a href="https://www.au.org/tags/equality-act">Equality Act</a>, the <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/congress-can-end-religion-based-discrimination-in-foster-care-with-every">Every Child Deserves a Family Act</a>, the <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/join-us-in-supporting-the-no-ban-act-to-repeal-the-muslim-ban">No Ban Act</a> and the <a href="https://www.au.org/media/press-releases/americans-united-applauds-members-of-congress-for-introducing-put-patients">Put Patients First Act</a>.</p> <p>However long Trump is in office, Americans United will be here to protect our country’s foundational principle of church-state separation – just as we have for the past 70-plus years. We know this is the only way to protect the Constitution’s promise of religious freedom – the right to practice a religion, or no religion at all, without harming others – for all of us, not just for some us. <a href="https://www.au.org/become-a-member">Join us</a>!</p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issues field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Issues</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/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/discrimination-in-health-care" hreflang="en">Discrimination In Health Care</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/lgbtq-rights" hreflang="en">LGBTQ Rights</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/denials-of-service" hreflang="en">Denials of Service</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/reproductive-rights" hreflang="en">Reproductive Rights</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/denials-of-health-care" hreflang="en">Denials of Health Care</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/government-support-of-religion" hreflang="en">Government Support Of Religion</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/religious-freedom" hreflang="en">Religious Freedom</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Tags</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/donald-trump" hreflang="en">Donald Trump</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/maddonna-v-dept-of-health-and-human-services" hreflang="en">Maddonna v. Dept. of Health and Human Services</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/denial-of-care-rule" hreflang="en">Denial of Care Rule</a></div> </div> </div> Wed, 11 Dec 2019 16:29:08 +0000 LHayes 15917 at https://www.au.org AU’s Top 10 Of 2019 – No. 9: Protecting Religious Freedom For Louisiana Students https://www.au.org/blogs/Top-10-Protecting-Louisiana-Students <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">AU’s Top 10 Of 2019 – No. 9: Protecting Religious Freedom For Louisiana Students</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, 12/10/2019 - 09:14</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/about/people/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/Kids%20celebrate%20outside_0.jpg?h=d3fded6a&amp;itok=TMNiYY8_" width="1700" height="525" alt="Kids celebrating" 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: The constitutional principle of religious freedom has been undermined like never before under the Trump administration. This year we have seen unprecedented attacks on reproductive freedom and LGBTQ equality, and an erosion of church-state separation that threatens religious minorities and the nonreligious in America.</em></p> <p><em>As the new year approaches, we’re taking a look back at the Top 10 church-state separation issues of 2019 – and how AU has led the charge against these blatant violations of our Constitution.</em></p> <p>Americans United <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/au-celebrates-lawsuit-settlement-that-protects-students-religious-freedom">secured a huge win</a> on behalf of public school students and families in Louisiana after negotiating a settlement agreement with the Bossier Parish School Board that ensures children feel welcome and included in their own schools regardless of their religious beliefs.</p> <p><a href="https://www.au.org/tags/does-v-bossier-parish-school-board">AU represented Bossier Parish parents</a> concerned that their children faced religious coercion from public school administrators, teachers and coaches through multiple religious freedom violations, such as school events being held at churches or involving prayers as part of the official program; extensive promotion of religion within school athletic programs; teachers proselytizing in classrooms; and religious displays in classrooms and offices.</p> <p>When our requests to correct these violations were ignored, we filed a federal lawsuit on the parents’ behalf in February 2018. The district ultimately agreed to settle the case and, in a consent decree filed with the federal court in January 2019, the district acknowledged that some of its practices violated students’ constitutional right to religious freedom.</p> <p>Provisions of the settlement included:</p> <ul><li>The creation of a long-term monitoring committee to review and resolve potential violations or disputes involving religious freedom;</li> <li>An agreement from the board to create, expand or seek out appropriate facilities to minimize the need to hold school events in houses of worship;</li> <li>A commitment to protecting the rights of all Bossier students to pray in school, as long as the prayers are initiated by students, aren’t disruptive and don’t occur during class time;</li> <li>Permission for Bossier teachers to teach about religion in an objective manner, but not proselytize students.</li> </ul><p>“This historic settlement is a victory for all Bossier families, and will ensure that children feel welcome and included in their own schools, regardless of what religion they do or don’t practice at home,” <a href="https://www.au.org/media/press-releases/americans-united-declares-victory-in-lawsuit-to-protect-religious-freedom-for">AU President and CEO Rachel Laser said</a> when the settlement was announced. “Bossier Parish allowed religious coercion to proliferate throughout their schools – that system will no longer exist and rigorous protections that are enforceable by law have been put in place for all students. We are thrilled that Bossier Parish Schools are now fulfilling the promise of religious freedom for all of their students.”</p> <p>Bossier Parish was not the only place where Americans United worked to protect the religious freedom of public schoolchildren. Our legal department contacted districts around the country to correct an array of violations, such as <a href="http://www.news-expressky.com/news/article_afd33c58-f1ec-11e9-b0c7-737f54f37978.html">teacher-initiated prayer lockers in Kentucky</a>, <a href="https://www.ajc.com/news/local-education/skip-graduation-threat-dekalb-families-was-much-ado-about-nothing/suyndroPwWyP2nEayuUqEN/">graduation ceremonies held in churches</a> in Georgia and <a href="https://www.echo-pilot.com/news/20190530/commencement-activities-begin-for-g-ahs-class-of-2019">baccalaureate ceremonies that included religious content</a> in Pennsylvania. Anyone with concerns that their public school or community officials might be undermining church-state separation can report violations to AU’s legal department <a href="https://www.au.org/get-involved/report-a-violation/form">here</a>.</p> <p>AU also worked to expose <a href="https://www.au.org/tags/project-blitz">Project Blitz</a>, the Christian nationalist political campaign to undermine church-state separation by codifying the U.S. as a “Christian nation” and misusing religious freedom to license discrimination. The Project Blitz agenda this year especially focused on legislation aimed at coercing public schoolchildren to believe in the Christian god by requiring public schools to display “In God We Trust” and to teach Bible classes.</p> <p>AU will continue to ensure public schools are welcoming, inclusive places for all students, regardless off their religious or nonreligious beliefs. <a href="https://www.au.org/become-a-member">Join us</a>!</p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issues field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Issues</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/schools" hreflang="en">Schools</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/classroom-instruction" hreflang="en">Classroom Instruction</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/school-sponsored-prayer" hreflang="en">School-Sponsored Prayer</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/school-events-clubs" hreflang="en">School Events &amp; Clubs</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/does-v-bossier-parish-school-board" hreflang="en">Does v. Bossier Parish School Board</a></div> </div> </div> Tue, 10 Dec 2019 14:14:41 +0000 LHayes 15915 at https://www.au.org AU’s Top 10 Of 2019 – No. 10: Opposing Expansion Of Private School Vouchers https://www.au.org/blogs/Top-10-Private-School-Vouchers <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">AU’s Top 10 Of 2019 – No. 10: Opposing Expansion Of Private School Vouchers</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, 12/09/2019 - 12:29</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/Empty%20Classroom%20cropped_2.jpg?h=90e18e5f&amp;itok=kYJjF_de" width="1700" height="525" alt="Empty classroom" 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: The constitutional principle of religious freedom has been undermined like never before under the Trump administration. This year we have seen unprecedented attacks on reproductive freedom and LGBTQ equality, and an erosion of church-state separation that threatens religious minorities and the nonreligious in America.</em></p> <p><em>As the new year approaches, we’re taking a look back at the Top 10 church-state separation issues of 2019 – and how AU has led the charge against these blatant violations of our Constitution.</em></p> <table><tbody><tr><td> <p>In 2019, Americans United fought against multiple attacks on public education and religious freedom as federal and state officials proposed new private school voucher schemes that would violate religious freedom by diverting taxpayer dollars from public schools to fund private, mostly religious schools that can discriminate against children and families.</p> <p>We have so far been successful in fending off the privatization goals of President Donald Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who have lobbied for a nationwide, federally funded private school voucher program. This year <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/june-2019-church-state-magazine/featured/the-privatizer-betsy-devos-and-her-scheme-to">they proposed an education budget</a> that would divert “an unprecedented level of resources” to private schools – up to $50 billion in taxpayer funds over 10 years.</p> </td> <td><img alt="No. 10: Opposing Expansion Of Private School Vouchers" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="25842a13-db1b-4ddb-b32b-254e1c68c413" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/10_TEN_Top10_FINAL.png" /></td> </tr></tbody></table><p>While their budget proposal didn’t offer any details for this nationwide plan, <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/the-trump-administrations-backdoor-voucher-scheme-threatens-public">DeVos endorsed a bill</a> introduced by U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.) to create a federally funded private school voucher scheme that would redirect $5 billion in public funds every year to private, mostly religious schools. AU <a href="https://twitter.com/americansunited/status/1119284974098821120">promptly exposed</a> DeVos’ lie that the voucher scheme wouldn’t require any taxpayer dollars; <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2019/04/05/lets-fact-check-this-betsy-devos-tweet-about-trumps-billion-school-tax-credit-proposal/">factcheckers also called her on this falsehood</a>.</p> <p>Trump and DeVos also proposed to spend $30 million for the Washington, D.C., voucher program – doubling the budget for the only federally funded voucher program. The funding for this program runs out this year and AU, along with the National Coalition for Public Education that we co-chair, <a href="https://static1.squarespace.com/static/582f7c15f7e0ab3a3c7fb141/t/5dd2c4cb8dbd7112d168c36f/1574094028574/2019-11-18+NCPE+Oppose+S.+2682+-+FINAL.pdf">has urged Congress to end this failing program</a> that is not improving – and <a href="https://www.ncpecoalition.org/dc-voucher-facts">may actually be harming</a> – students’ academic achievement.</p> <p>AU also filed friend-of-the-court briefs in two federal court cases involving pro-voucher groups that are suing states to demand that taxpayers fund religious education. <a href="https://www.au.org/media/press-releases/civil-rights-and-religious-groups-urge-federal-appeals-court-to-affirm-that">One case was in Maine</a>. The other, <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/october-2019-church-state-magazine/cover-story/from-no-aid-to-must-aid-a-pending-us"><em>Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue</em></a>, is about go before the U.S. Supreme Court in January. AU, along with religious freedom and public education advocates, has been sounding the alarm that a bad ruling from the court in this case could lead to more taxpayer money funding not only private religious education, but other explicitly religious activities as well.</p> <p>AU and allies also are preparing a lawsuit against <a href="https://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/education/os-ne-vouchers-florida-religious-schools-20190528-pbpvjlwysfbshdopn6pqws4ibm-story.html">Florida’s new voucher program</a>, which violates the state constitution’s promises of providing a uniform, high-quality public education for all schoolchildren and of protecting taxpayers from being forced to fund religious education. Both Florida and Tennessee, led by newly elected pro-voucher governors, created new private school voucher schemes this year. Tennessee’s program could cost taxpayers nearly $40 million per year; Florida’s program was estimated at $130 million per year.</p> <p>Public money should fund public schools, which serve the vast majority of American schoolchildren. Taxpayers should not be forced to fund private, mostly religious schools that can discriminate against children and their families. Private school vouchers are bad for students, bad for families and bad for taxpayers.</p> <p>AU will continue to protect both religious freedom and public education by opposing private school voucher schemes in Congress, in statehouses and in the courts. <a href="https://www.au.org/become-a-member">Join us</a>!</p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issues field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Issues</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/schools" hreflang="en">Schools</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/private-school-vouchers" hreflang="en">Private School Vouchers</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/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/donald-trump" hreflang="en">Donald Trump</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/betsy-devos" hreflang="en">Betsy DeVos</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/ted-cruz" hreflang="en">Ted Cruz</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/bradley-byrne" hreflang="en">Bradley Byrne</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/dc-vouchers-0" hreflang="en">DC Vouchers</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/maine" hreflang="en">Maine</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/montana" hreflang="en">Montana</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/florida" hreflang="en">Florida</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/tennessee" hreflang="en">Tennessee</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/supreme-court" hreflang="en">Supreme Court</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/congress" hreflang="en">Congress</a></div> </div> </div> Mon, 09 Dec 2019 17:29:04 +0000 LHayes 15914 at https://www.au.org A Substitute Teacher In Utah Went On A Religiously Tinged Anti-LGBTQ Rant. Three Students Put A Stop To It. https://www.au.org/blogs/utah-sub-teacher <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">A Substitute Teacher In Utah Went On A Religiously Tinged Anti-LGBTQ Rant. Three Students Put A Stop To 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">Thu, 12/05/2019 - 08:35</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/empty%20classroom%2C%2012.5.19.jpg?h=3e5942b1&amp;itok=mOSh0K7M" width="1700" height="525" alt="empty classroom" title="school classroom" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>Public schools have a legal obligation to keep preaching out of classrooms and to treat all students with dignity and respect. That failed to happen recently in Cedar Hills, Utah, but the good news is that school officials acted quickly to make things right.</p> <p>According to various <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/12/02/entertainment/louis-van-amstel-son/index.html">media accounts</a>, a substitute teacher at Deerfield Elementary School was in a fifth-grade classroom a few days before Thanksgiving and asked students what they were thankful for. An 11-year-old boy who has been referred to as D.M. to respect his privacy said he was looking forward to being officially adopted by his two dads.</p> <p>The substitute, whose name has not been disclosed, went ballistic. Other students reported that she replied, “Why on earth would you be happy about that?” She then reportedly harangued on the topic for 10 minutes, telling the 30 students in the classroom that “homosexuality is wrong” and “two men living together is a sin.” The <em>Salt Lake Tribune</em> reported that she looked at the boy and said, “That’s nothing to be thankful for.”</p> <p>Three girls in the classroom asked the sub to cease making such hurtful comments. When she refused, the young women left the room and went to the principal’s office, where they reported what was going on.</p> <p>The substitute was escorted from the school. Reportedly, she continued to spew anti-LGBTQ venom even as she was being led out of the building.</p> <p>The incident came to light after Louis van Amstel, one of the boy’s dads, posted about it on social media. Van Amstel, a professional dancer who has competed several times on “Dancing with the Stars,” has a large following online, and the story soon went viral.</p> <p>He later gave <a href="https://www.sltrib.com/news/education/2019/11/29/utah-substitute-told-th/">an interview</a> to the <em>Tribune</em>, remarking, “It’s absolutely ridiculous and horrible what she did. We were livid. It’s 2019 and this is a public school.” Van Amstel noted that he and his husband, Josh van Amstel, moved to adopt D.M. after the boy experienced two failed adoptions.</p> <p>The good news is, the substitute isn’t likely to get an opportunity to do this again. Kelly Services, a firm that provides subs to many Utah public schools, terminated her. “We are concerned about any reports of inappropriate conduct and take these matters very seriously,” the company said in a statement.</p> <p>Good for them. Officials at the school also deserve thanks for their quick action. But the biggest kudos of all belong to the three girls who stood up for their classmate – they’re the real heroes of this story.</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-by-public-officials" hreflang="en">Discrimination by Public Officials</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/utah" hreflang="en">Utah</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/education" hreflang="en">Education</a></div> </div> </div> Thu, 05 Dec 2019 13:35:33 +0000 boston 15912 at https://www.au.org More Government-Sponsored Religion In The Public Square Is A Holiday Gift We Don’t Need https://www.au.org/blogs/nativity-scenes-public <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">More Government-Sponsored Religion In The Public Square Is A Holiday Gift We Don’t Need</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, 12/04/2019 - 09:05</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/nativity%2012.4.19.jpg?h=25663b40&amp;itok=VaqSCNFO" width="1700" height="525" alt="Nativity scene " title="creche " typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>Pope Francis has <a href="https://www.catholicnews.com/services/englishnews/2019/pope-asks-catholics-to-set-up-be-enchanted-by-a-nativity-scene.cfm">issued a call</a> for more nativity scenes in public spaces, a move that could escalate church-state conflict in the United States.</p> <p>During a Dec. 1 visit to the city of Greccio, Italy, the pope signed an apostolic letter praising the display of crèches in schools, hospitals, prisons and community squares.</p> <p>“With this letter, I wish to encourage the beautiful family tradition of preparing the Nativity scene in the days before Christmas, but also the custom of setting it up in the workplace, in schools, hospitals, prisons and town squares,” Francis wrote.</p> <p>Earlier in the day, the pope called nativity scenes “a simple and admirable sign of the Christian faith.”</p> <p>He’s right about that – and that is exactly why the government has no business erecting them or sponsoring their displays. Public buildings and the public square belong to all of us. If such spaces are to be adorned with symbols, those symbols should represent us all and unify us as a people, not sow division by elevating one faith over all others.</p> <p>What’s frustrating about the pope’s statement is that it’s unnecessary. There’s simply no need to erect sectarian symbols at the seat of government when our nation is home to so many churches. Houses of worship are the proper places for crèches and other religious symbols to be displayed – and many religious leaders are happy to take on the task.</p> <p>To be sure, there may be some cases where private groups are given access to public space for displays, some of which may be religious in nature. But those displays are erected and maintained by private entities on their own time and with their own dime – they’re not government-sponsored. And when the government allows private groups to use that space, it can’t discriminate against other groups that might want that same right of access.</p> <p>Thus, if a Christian church is permitted to erect a nativity scene on the town green, a Jewish group can erect a menorah, atheists can put up a “Happy Solstice” sign and so on. (The only way government can include a nativity scene is if it’s part of a larger array that includes secular symbols as well so the religious symbol is not the focal point – but I suspect the pope isn’t eager to see a bunch of crèches surrounded by Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, the Grinch and the rest of the gang.)</p> <p>Groups like Americans United are sometimes accused of promulgating a “war on Christmas” by insisting that government refrain from erecting religiously tinged holiday displays. Far from it. We’re defending religion, not attacking it.</p> <p>Remember, when religious leaders display their sacred symbols, encourage people to venerate them and prod individuals to become more religious, they are engaging in proselytism. That’s all well and good when it's undertaken by private groups. But such actions should never be part of the duties of government.</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/displays" hreflang="en">Displays</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/war-christmas" hreflang="en">war on christmas</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/nativity-scenes" hreflang="en">nativity scenes</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/pope-francis" hreflang="en">Pope Francis</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/holiday-displays" hreflang="en">holiday displays</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/holidays" hreflang="en">Holidays</a></div> </div> </div> Wed, 04 Dec 2019 14:05:33 +0000 boston 15911 at https://www.au.org This Giving Tuesday, Double The Impact Of Your Support Of Americans United https://www.au.org/blogs/it-is-giving-tuesday <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">This Giving Tuesday, Double The Impact Of Your Support Of Americans United</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, 12/03/2019 - 09:11</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/about/people/rob-boston" hreflang="und">Rob Boston</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image"> <label>Image</label> <div class="item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/banner/public/images/blog_post/GT%20banner%2012.3.19.png?h=1174c9cb&amp;itok=sQ3vR1Yx" width="1700" height="525" alt="GT banner " title="GT banner " typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>Today is<a href="https://secure.everyaction.com/ic4v0DQaX0W4YaCm0AYvIg2"> </a><a href="https://secure.everyaction.com/ic4v0DQaX0W4YaCm0AYvIg2?ms=Giving_Tuesday_Blog_CTA_12032019">Giving Tuesday</a>, which means it’s a great time to remember one of the most important things about the work of Americans United: It touches the lives of real people grappling with real problems – and provides them with real solutions.</p> <p>Often, our work makes a big splash. When the attorneys in our Legal Department filed suit on behalf of<a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/april-2019-church-state-magazine/cover-story/fostering-discrimination-catholic-aimee"> </a><a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/april-2019-church-state-magazine/cover-story/fostering-discrimination-catholic-aimee">Aimee Maddonna</a>, a South Carolina woman who wanted to volunteer to help children in foster care but was turned away from a taxpayer-supported evangelical Christian adoption agency because she’s Roman Catholic, it captured headlines nationwide.</p> <p>Similarly, when members of our Public Policy Department speak out against reckless proposals on Capitol Hill and in state legislatures, people take notice. When our Outreach and Engagement Department mobilizes people locally and provides them with the tools they need to be effective advocates, that reverberates and gets attention. And when AU’s Communications Department produces social media graphics, blog posts, tweets, Instagram posts and other items supporters of church-state separation can use to defend religious freedom for all, it’s very public.</p> <p>But it’s important to remember the myriad of things going on every day at Americans United that don’t make the headlines but that also matter, the quiet activism that makes a big difference. Maybe it’s one of our attorneys giving advice to someone so they can solve a problem outside of court. It might be a Public Policy staff member providing pointers to a local activist who wants to address the county council on a church-state issue. It could be a Communications staffer helping an AU member write a letter to the editor or giving some information to a student working on a report. Perhaps it's the Outreach and Engagement Department helping local activists plan an event to educate people in their community.</p> <p>Sometimes it’s a simple as answering the phone, responding to an email or replying to a Facebook message – things we do every day here at Americans United. When people see something wrong and they want to make it right, they need to know that Americans United is there for them.</p> <p>And thanks to you, we are. At Americans United, we pull together a collection of voices from religious and non-religious people – and we amplify them. But we always remember that every issue we address starts with one voice of one person behind it. We do more than simply address the problem raised by that person – we plug him or her into a network, generating a strength and a power you can’t get standing alone.</p> <p>We’re proud of the unity and energy we create, and as we do it, we keep in mind an important principle: Defending the basic rights of the American people is not a burden; indeed, it is an honor and a privilege.</p> <p>But it’s one we can’t do without you, so on this Giving Tuesday, we urge you to <a href="https://secure.everyaction.com/ic4v0DQaX0W4YaCm0AYvIg2?ms=Giving_Tuesday_Blog_CTA_12032019">remember the work of Americans United</a>. And we hope you’ll bear in mind the thousands of stories that animate the work we do and the individual people – perhaps folks just like you – who make it all possible.</p> <p>P.S. Also remember this: A generous group of AU donors has pooled together their resources to form a #GivingTuesday matching fund. This means that every dollar you contribute to AU for Giving Tuesday <a href="https://secure.everyaction.com/ic4v0DQaX0W4YaCm0AYvIg2?ms=Giving_Tuesday_Blog_CTA_12032019">will be matched</a> – it’ll go twice as far and double your impact on our work.</p> <p><em>Online contributions will be matched through December 3, 2019, up to a limit of $50,000. All gifts made in excess of this limit will still provide valuable funding for AU’s efforts to defend church-state separation</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> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Tags</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/giving-tuesday" hreflang="en">Giving Tuesday</a></div> </div> </div> Tue, 03 Dec 2019 14:11:09 +0000 boston 15910 at https://www.au.org Let’s Say It Again: Yes, Church-State Separation Is Part Of Our Constitution https://www.au.org/blogs/separation-is-in-constitution <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Let’s Say It Again: Yes, Church-State Separation Is Part Of Our Constitution</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, 12/02/2019 - 09:26</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/constitutional%20convention%2C%2012.2.19%20%283%29.jpg?h=72a3860e&amp;itok=Cbi311Df" width="1700" height="525" alt="constitutional convention" title="con con " typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>One of the most pernicious, and persistent, untruths peddled by the forces that want to merge religion and government is that there’s no such thing as separation of church and state in the Constitution.</p> <p>It’s a facile claim, one easily demolished by taking the time to read some actual history. Yes, it’s true that the literal phrase “separation of church and state” does not appear in the First Amendment, but the concept certainly does.</p> <p>Nevertheless, people who want to undermine church-state separation keep making the claim. The most recent was Stephanie Barclay, a law professor at Brigham Young University (BYU) in Utah, who wrote <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/five-myths/five-myths-about-the-constitution/2019/11/08/1285a4d0-017e-11ea-8bab-0fc209e065a8_story.html">a column</a> for <em>The Washington Post</em> purporting to expose five “myths” about the Constitution. One of them was the old canard about separation of church and state not being in the Constitution.</p> <p>Barclay is hardly a disinterested academic. Prior to joining the staff at BYU, she worked for the Becket Fund, a right-wing legal group that seeks to tear down the church-state wall. In 2021, <a href="https://law.byu.edu/news/byu-laws-professor-stephanie-barclay-to-clerk-for-justice-neil-gorsuch%E2%80%8B%E2%80%8B%E2%80%8B%E2%80%8B%E2%80%8B%E2%80%8B%E2%80%8B/">she plans to clerk</a> for Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch.</p> <p>Americans United moved quickly to set the record straight. On Saturday, <em>The Post</em> printed <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/readers-critique-the-post-lets-get-our-constitutional-history-straight/2019/11/29/ced15e24-12c5-11ea-bf62-eadd5d11f559_story.html">a rebuttal letter</a> from AU President and CEO Rachel Laser.</p> <p>“Since our country’s founding, keeping religion and government separate has been the linchpin of true religious freedom – the right to practice your faith, or no faith at all, as long as you don’t harm others,” Laser observed.</p> <p>Opponents of church-state separation have been trying to rewrite our nation’s history for years. Portraying church-state separation as unhistorical is a big part of their plan.  Americans United isn’t about to let them get away with it. We know that church-state separation is a uniquely American principle, something that our people should take great pride in and celebrate. A crucial part of our defense of church-state separation is publishing materials – like <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/february-2015-church-state/featured/myths-debunked">this article debunking common Christian nationalist myths</a> about separation of church and state and <a href="https://www.au.org/resources/publications/is-america-a-christian-nation">this one eviscerating the “Christian nation” claim </a>– to give Americans the real story.</p> <p>It’s important work. With your <a href="https://www.au.org/become-a-member">help and support</a>, we’ll keep at it.</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/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/becket-fund" hreflang="en">Becket Fund</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/neil-gorsuch" hreflang="en">Neil Gorsuch</a></div> </div> </div> Mon, 02 Dec 2019 14:26:59 +0000 boston 15885 at https://www.au.org A Resounding Yes To Separation: AU Poll Shows Affirming Results https://www.au.org/blogs/AU-poll-results <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">A Resounding Yes To Separation: AU Poll Shows Affirming Results</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/95" lang="" about="/user/95" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">boston</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Wed, 11/27/2019 - 08:31</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/happy%20people%20cropped%202_0.jpg?h=63cf1eec&amp;itok=hmmxqV1O" width="1700" height="525" alt="happy people " title="people " 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/november-2019-church-state-magazine/perspective/a-resounding-yes-to-separation-au-poll">November 2019 issue</a><em> of AU's </em>Church &amp; State<em> magazine.</em></p> <p>I fear, dear loyal church-state separationist, that this column may find you a little bone-weary from the dizzying array of attacks on religious freedom these days. So, I write to share some uplifting news.</p> <p>Sixty percent of the country says that protecting the separation of religion and government is either one of the most important things to them personally or very important. And nearly half of likely 2020 voters (47 percent) say they would be more likely to support a candidate who would safeguard church-state separation, with only 11 percent saying they would be less likely.</p> <p>How do I know this? Because this July, AU took the plunge into some new terrain and conducted our first-ever public opinion research. The goals were twofold: to understand better where we are on our issue with the general public and among different demographic groups and to learn how best to connect with different audiences on the importance of church-state separation.</p> <p>The first task was figuring out which public opinion research firm to hire. We went with Anzalone Liszt Grove Research, one of the nation’s most respected and accurate polling firms, and a firm that has some experience polling on religious refusals.</p> <p>Our poll surveyed 2,002 self-identified likely 2020 voters and included people of different ages and from different racial, religious, geographic and educational backgrounds. The poll was conducted in Spanish and English.</p> <p>We know, especially after the 2016 election, that polls are not foolproof. And interpreting the results is not as straightforward as it might seem. That said, this poll offered many insights that will help guide our future work. It will also inform future public opinion research we do.</p> <p>Let me tell you some more about the poll results. When we asked which church-state issues voters found most compelling, the answer was clear: Americans are concerned about “religious freedom” being used as a license to discriminate both in employment and concerning health care access. This issue has been in the news a lot lately, so maybe it’s not surprising it topped the list.</p> <p>When we asked what voters’ top three priorities were specifically for Americans United, the results were quite similar: (1) ensuring that businesses, employers and health care providers can’t use religion as a reason to discriminate; (2) ensuring taxpayer-funded organizations can’t discriminate in who they hire based on the applicant’s religion; and (3) ensuring that religion is not used to deny women access to birth control. (Notably, ensuring that religion is not used to deny women access to “birth control, abortion care, and emergency contraception” was nearly tied for third.)</p> <p>These issues were top priorities across race, age, region and religion, with very few exceptions. Our pollsters let us know that it is quite rare and fortunate to see such uniformity.</p> <p>The poll also sought to ascertain which messages about the separation of religion and government have special appeal for Americans and are most persuasive. Information like this is useful because it helps Americans United craft messages that win new support for the organization.</p> <p>The poll found that respondents like the approach of tying church-state separation to the aspirational idea of religious freedom and reminding everyone that church-state separation is a founding principle and key feature of the US Constitution. They also resonated with the idea that religious freedom is a shield to protect, not a sword to harm.</p> <p>The poll validated that education about church-state issues is key. I stated earlier that 60 percent of voters said that protecting church-state separation was either one of the most important things or a very important thing to them personally. But after looking at some AU messages about its importance throughout the poll, that number jumped 11 points, hitting 71 percent (only 6 percent said protecting separation was not important).</p> <p>You know how good news becomes so much better when you have people to share it with whom you know will be as happy about it as you are? Well, you are those people for us. We know you will celebrate or mourn alongside us no matter what the news, and believe me when I tell you how much all of us at AU appreciate that.</p> <p>So please, take a moment to pause with us and enjoy these poll results. We all deserve it.</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/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/employment-discrimination" hreflang="en">Employment Discrimination</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/religious-freedom" hreflang="en">Religious Freedom</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Tags</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/polls" hreflang="en">polls</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/birth-control-benefit" hreflang="en">Birth Control Benefit</a></div> </div> </div> Wed, 27 Nov 2019 13:31:23 +0000 boston 15884 at https://www.au.org