The Wall of Separation Blog https://www.au.org/ en Legislative Prayers Won’t Offend Anyone If Government Stops Sponsoring Them https://www.au.org/blogs/virginia-prayer-flap <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Legislative Prayers Won’t Offend Anyone If Government Stops Sponsoring Them </span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/95" lang="" about="/user/95" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">boston</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Fri, 02/14/2020 - 10:45</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/VA%20house%20of%20delegates.jpg?h=9efa0e0e&amp;itok=Oj0WOEnu" width="1700" height="525" alt="VA House of Delegates" title="VA House " typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>As we noted yesterday, Americans United and its allies recently <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/win-in-brevard-county">settled a case</a> in Brevard County, Fla., dealing with legislative prayer. Under the terms of the settlement, the Brevard County Board of County Commissioners has agreed not to reinstitute its old practice of discriminating against people who don’t belong to mainstream, monotheistic religions when selecting invocation speakers.</p> <p>Meetings in Brevard are now opened with a moment of silence. Other government bodies might want to follow suit. Not only does this practice avoid problems of picking and choosing among religions, it also ensures that guest speakers don’t go off the rails.</p> <p>A few days ago, several Democratic members of the Virginia House of Delegates walked out after a minister who had been selected to give an opening invocation started ranting about abortion and marriage equality.</p> <p>The Rev. Dr. Robert M. Grant Jr. of Father’s Way Church in Warrenton warned of God’s “wrath” coming down on those who tolerate abortion and LGBTQ rights. His remarks led one Democratic legislator to yell, “Is this a prayer or a sermon?”</p> <p>When it became apparent that Grant wasn’t going to stop, House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax County) terminated his remarks by banging on her gavel and calling for the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, <a href="https://www.virginiamercury.com/2020/02/11/va-house-democrats-protest-opening-prayer-as-conservative-pastor-condemns-abortion-gay-marriage/">reported the <em>Virginia Mercury</em></a>.</p> <p>Some House members later expressed dismay over the prayer.</p> <p>“It was totally disrespectful to all of us, all of us in this House,” Del. Luke Torian (D-Prince William County), told the <em>Mercury</em>.</p> <p>Even some Republicans thought Grant, who has been invited to give the guest invocation by Del. Michael Webert (R-Fauquier County), went too far.</p> <p>“I don’t know if he was ill-instructed or didn’t realize what he was here to do,” said Del. Matt Fariss (R-Campbell County). “This wasn’t the place or the time to do all of that. … This is a time we need to be working together and not being divisive.”</p> <p>The problem is, this sort of thing has happened before. Some guest pastors decide to use their time at the podium to launch into political harangues or attack members of the community, such as people who are LGBTQ, abortion-rights advocates and others. (Here are just two examples, one from <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/march-2009-church-state/people-events/priest-s-prayer-stirs-up-conflict-in-kansas-house">Kansas</a> and one from <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/prayer-and-the-power-company-alabama-official-stands-by-controversial">Alabama</a>.)</p> <p>It’s offensive and rightly angers many people. After all, the government is supposed to represent all of us.</p> <p>There’s one sure-fire way to make certain that no one is offended by disturbing content in official legislative prayers: Stop having them.  </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/official-prayer" hreflang="en">Official Prayer</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Tags</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/legislative-prayers" hreflang="en">legislative prayers</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/virginia" hreflang="en">Virginia</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/abortion" hreflang="en">Abortion</a></div> </div> </div> Fri, 14 Feb 2020 15:45:40 +0000 boston 16038 at https://www.au.org AU Scores A Victory For Religious Freedom And Inclusive Public Meetings In Florida https://www.au.org/blogs/win-in-brevard-county <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">AU Scores A Victory For Religious Freedom And Inclusive Public Meetings In Florida</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, 02/13/2020 - 08:32</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/Brevard%20County%20Commission.jpg?h=d14bb121&amp;itok=IDhawBg4" width="1700" height="525" alt="Brevard Commission " title="Brevard Board " typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>A few years ago, Americans United was approached by some residents of central Florida who had a problem: The Brevard County Board of County Commissioners had a practice of opening its meetings almost always with Christian prayers. They were <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/september-2015-church-state/featured/atheists-excluded">absolutely not interested</a> in hearing secular invocations.</p> <p>In fact, a review of the county’s prayer practices found that during a six-year period that included 195 meeting invocations, 96 percent of them were given by Christian faith leaders and/or contained Christian content.</p> <p>Some local residents tried to change that. David Williamson, a U.S. Navy veteran and ordained Humanist celebrant, requested that a member of the <a href="https://www.cflfreethought.org/">Central Florida Freethought Community</a> be given the opportunity to offer an opening invocation. The board said no. Not long after that, Ronald Gordon, an atheist/agnostic U.S. Army veteran, and the Rev. Ann Fuller, a Humanist ordained Unitarian Universalist minister, also requested opportunities to deliver opening invocations. They too were denied.</p> <p>In 2015, the board went further and formalized a policy that permitted only “traditional faith-based invocation[s]” at the opening of its meetings. Americans United, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Florida then filed a lawsuit challenging the policy on behalf of Williamson, Gordon and other local residents and organizations.</p> <p>Two federal courts ruled against the board, and now the case, <em>Williamson v. Brevard County</em>, <a href="https://www.au.org/media/press-releases/brevard-county-fla-commissioners-agree-to-end-religious-discrimination-in">has been settled</a>. The board, which now opens its meetings with a moment of silence, has agreed not to reinstitute its old practice of discriminating against people who don’t belong to mainstream, monotheistic religions when selecting invocation speakers.</p> <p>The U.S. Supreme Court in 2014 <a href="https://www.oyez.org/cases/2013/12-696">allowed local communities</a> to open their meetings with prayers, even if they were often Christian. But in its ruling, the high court also stressed the need for inclusion. The case, <em>Town of </em><em>Greece v. Galloway</em> (which was sponsored by Americans United), challenged a prayer policy in the town of Greece, N.Y. As in Brevard, the legislative prayers in Greece were often Christian, but there was a key difference: Greece officials were willing to allow atheists, Wiccans, and other non-monotheists to deliver invocations on occasion. That element was missing in Brevard County, where all the opening invocations were delivered by representatives of traditional monotheistic religions, while other belief systems – including nontheists, polytheists and deists – were excluded.</p> <p>Just to be clear, Americans United opposes official, government-sponsored prayers before legislative meetings. But the Supreme Court has allowed these practices, calling them traditional. In response, Americans United advocates truly inclusive invocation policies. The religious landscape in the U.S. is changing, with growing numbers of Americans saying they have no formal religion. It simply makes sense for local governments to respect and reflect the full diversity of their constituents.</p> <p>Americans United is pleased that the Brevard County case has been resolved in a manner that respects diversity. Other localities should follow the teachings of this litigation, either by ensuring that their invocation policies are completely nondiscriminatory or by refraining from opening their meetings with prayers altogether.</p> <p><em>Photo: A meeting of the Brevard County Board of County Commissioners </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-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/city-council-prayers" hreflang="en">city council prayers</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/legislative-prayer" hreflang="en">legislative prayer</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/brevard-county" hreflang="en">Brevard County</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/florida" hreflang="en">Florida</a></div> </div> </div> Thu, 13 Feb 2020 13:32:53 +0000 boston 16037 at https://www.au.org It’s Time To Pass The No Ban Act https://www.au.org/blogs/pass-no-ban-act <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">It’s Time To Pass The No Ban Act</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, 02/12/2020 - 13:13</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/about/people/rob-boston" hreflang="und">Rob Boston</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image"> <label>Image</label> <div class="item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/banner/public/images/blog_post/m%20ban%20trio%20cropped_0.jpg?h=32e02bb8&amp;itok=b1HBt9w2" width="1700" height="525" alt="muslim ban" title="m ban" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>The Judiciary Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives is today holding a markup on an important piece of legislation called the No Ban Act.</p> <p>The legislation is designed to respond to President Donald Trump’s cruel and capricious Muslim Ban. It will ensure that no one can be banned from our country based on religion ever again and puts in place vital protections against future discriminatory bans.</p> <p>Sponsored in the House by U.S. Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) and in the Senate by U.S. Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), the legislation gets the nation back to important founding principles: We don't punish an entire class of people based on their religion.</p> <p>This legislation is especially important now because Trump recently announced an expansion of the Muslim Ban, adding several more countries to the “banned” list.</p> <p>When Trump took that action, AU President and CEO Rachel Laser was<a href="https://www.au.org/media/press-releases/americans-united-denounces-president-trumps-muslim-ban-expansion-as-continued"> </a><a href="https://www.au.org/media/press-releases/americans-united-denounces-president-trumps-muslim-ban-expansion-as-continued">quick to respond</a>.</p> <p>“It was un-American when President Trump proposed a Muslim Ban from the campaign trail, it was un-American when he first implemented a Muslim Ban three years ago, and it’s un-American today to expand the Muslim Ban to more countries and cruelly separate even more families,” Laser said. “Engaging in religious discrimination to ban people because of their faith fundamentally violates our country’s constitutional principle of religious freedom. We will continue to challenge Trump’s Muslim Ban in court as we have since it was first enacted, and we urge Congress to pass the No Ban Act immediately.”</p> <p>AU opposes the Muslim Ban because it violates our fundamental values of religious freedom for all. It’s clear this ban is driven by hostility toward Muslims and their faith, and for evidence of that, you need not look beyond<a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2017/05/20/i-think-islam-hates-us-a-timeline-of-trumps-comments-about-islam-and-muslims/"> </a><a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2017/05/20/i-think-islam-hates-us-a-timeline-of-trumps-comments-about-islam-and-muslims/">Trump’s statements</a> on the campaign trail in 2016 and afterward. America was founded on the principle of religious freedom. We dishonor that principle when we oppress others and spread intolerance.</p> <p>The Muslim Ban also harms families by tearing them apart. In the years since the ban went into effect, countless families have been needlessly separated, people have been denied access to lifesaving medical treatments, children have been denied their parents and grandparents and people have missed the births, deaths, weddings, and funerals of loved ones – for no other reason than their faith. (To learn more, <a href="https://www.au.org/sites/default/files/2020-02/NO BAN Act for Markup - FINAL.pdf">read AU’s statement to the committee</a> about the No Ban Act.)</p> <p>The Muslim Ban is a short-sighted policy and an affront to our national values. This markup is important because it’s the first step toward passing this legislation. The next stop is a vote on the House floor. Help Americans United protect religious freedom by urging your members of Congress to<a href="https://secure.everyaction.com/zJrWLOXMu0ul7TXwtySsYA2"> </a><a href="https://secure.everyaction.com/zJrWLOXMu0ul7TXwtySsYA2">support the No Ban Act</a>.</p> <p><em>Photo: Protestors rally against the Muslim Ban</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/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/anti-muslim-discrimination" hreflang="en">Anti-Muslim Discrimination</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/muslim-ban" hreflang="en">Muslim Ban</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/trump-administration" hreflang="en">Trump Administration</a></div> </div> </div> Wed, 12 Feb 2020 18:13:42 +0000 boston 16036 at https://www.au.org Help Americans United Stop The Trump Administration’s Latest Assault On Religious Freedom https://www.au.org/blogs/new-faith-based-regs <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Help Americans United Stop The Trump Administration’s Latest Assault On Religious Freedom</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, 02/11/2020 - 11:14</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/about/people/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/disappointed%20woman%20getty%202.11.20.jpg%20cropped%20.jpg?h=19b74c62&amp;itok=c8Kto3MQ" width="1700" height="525" alt="disappointed woman " title="sad woman " typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>In its latest attack on separation of church and state and Americans’ rights, the Trump administration last month<a href="https://www.au.org/media/press-releases/trump-uses-religious-freedom-day-to-violate-religious-freedom-for-public"> </a><a href="https://www.au.org/media/press-releases/trump-uses-religious-freedom-day-to-violate-religious-freedom-for-public">announced a series of proposed regulations</a> that would target the most vulnerable members of our society – people who get social services at taxpayer-funded religious organizations.</p> <p>People who need these services are often at a difficult point in their lives. They may be unemployed, experiencing homelessness or grappling with drug or alcohol use disorder. What these people need and deserve is help – not a sermon.</p> <p>Yet under these proposed regulations, members of vulnerable populations may be subjected to unwanted proselytism – or denied services entirely. Trump wants to change the rules in eight federal agencies so that “faith-based” organizations could discriminate against certain people yet still receive millions in taxpayer dollars.</p> <p>Maggie Garrett, AU’s vice president for public policy, pointed out recently that these new proposed rules would:</p> <ul><li>Eliminate religious freedom protections, including requirements to notify people of their rights or offer people an alternative provider.</li> <li>Open the door to government-funded discrimination and create more hurdles for vulnerable people who could be forced to choose between their religious beliefs and accessing the services they need.</li> <li>Likely harm LGBTQ people, women, religious minorities and the nonreligious the most.</li> </ul><p>Furthermore, these proposed regulations could have a broad reach, affecting programs for housing, food, substance use treatment, counseling, veterans’ services, care for the elderly and more.</p> <p>Americans United is opposing these new regulations, and we need your help. The release of the rules started a 30-day public comment period, which ends soon. By <a href="https://secure.everyaction.com/ErHZQLIeVE2lTxfHMPzslw2?ms=Blog_CTA_021120">clicking here</a>, you can submit your public comment opposing these regulations. We’ve created a simple, <a href="https://secure.everyaction.com/ErHZQLIeVE2lTxfHMPzslw2?ms=Blog_CTA_021120">one-click tool</a> for you to use – and please add a few words of personalization to your message for added impact.</p> <p>This latest administration attack on religious freedom for vulnerable Americans is unacceptable. Please help Americans United send that message today.</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-funded-discrimination" hreflang="en">Government-Funded 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> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Tags</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/faith-based-initiative" hreflang="en">faith-based initiative</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/trump-administration" hreflang="en">Trump Administration</a></div> </div> </div> Tue, 11 Feb 2020 16:14:11 +0000 boston 16034 at https://www.au.org Please Scale This Summit! Join Us Next Month In D.C. https://www.au.org/blogs/national-advocacy-summit <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Please Scale This Summit! Join Us Next Month In D.C.</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, 02/10/2020 - 08:46</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/Wash%20DC%20skyline%20.jpg?h=059ebd53&amp;itok=-MEsZpzk" width="1700" height="525" alt="DC skyline " title="Washington, D.C. " 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 <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/february-2020-church-state-magazine">February 2020 issue</a> </em><em>of AU's </em>Church &amp; State<em> magazine.</em></p> <p>March 22-24, Americans United is going to host our first-ever <a href="https://www.au.org/conference">National Advocacy Summit</a> in Washington, D.C. AU Vice President for State Outreach and En­gage­ment Sarah Gillooly, in conjunction with her department and many others at AU, is doing an incredible job of making the conference come to life. Space for the Summit is tight, so please head to our website at au.org and sign up ASAP if you haven’t already.</p> <p>Why should you join us, if possible, and why is the Summit an important milestone for AU? I can think of a few reasons:</p> <p><em>You’ll find your voice as a champion: </em>Even for those of us who know how vital church-state separation is, it isn’t always easy to find the words to express why, or to make the case to others about why they should care. The Summit will help. You will learn more about the intersections of our issue with issues like racial justice and LGBTQ rights and the current legal battles we are fighting; you can attend workshops on storytelling and poll-tested messaging; and you will hear directly from some of our plaintiffs, whose stories shine light on the urgency of our issue. Then, you can practice being an advocate when you take your message to Capitol Hill (see below).</p> <p><em>You’ll get inspired:</em> These days, with constant attacks on church-state separation and many other essential parts of our democracy, it’s not easy to feel hopeful. But we cannot be change agents if we don’t believe we can make a difference. Come to the Summit to witness the energy, strategy and diversity we have on our side. I promise you will be in great company. Think younger and older people; leaders from the nontheist, faith, LGBTQ and racial justice communities; people willing to put themselves at risk and be named plaintiffs in our cases; and people of different religious and ethnic backgrounds from across the country who, like you, are some of AU’s most dedicated supporters and activists. We have time built into the program for you to deepen your connections with your fellow separationists.</p> <p>For more inspiration, what could be better than our keynote speech featuring Jeff Sharlet (whose<a href="https://www.amazon.com/Family-Secret-Fundamentalism-Heart-American/dp/0060559799/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&amp;qid=&amp;sr="> book</a> on the covert Christian nationalist group <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/september-2009-church-state/featured/behind-the-green-door">The Family</a> has been turned into a popular Netflix series) followed by a musical performance by <a href="https://americansongwriter.com/scarlett-rabe/evan-schlansky/">Scarlett Rabe</a>, a talented singer and songwriter who’s also a self-described inter­sec­tional feminist and humanist?</p> <p><em>You’ll bring church-state separation to the halls of Congress:</em> You all know separation of religion and government, the linchpin of religious freedom, is central to the American experiment. But too many people think that we secured it back at our founding and don’t realize it’s under siege. That’s why we have to make more noise! One way the Summit will turn up the volume on our issue is through our lobby day on Tuesday, March 24. Yes, AU’s talented public policy staff serves as a critical resource on Capitol Hill. But there is no one members of Congress listen to more carefully and enthusiastically than their constituents. I can’t think of a more important moment for AU activists across the country to take to our feet in the halls of Congress and speak truth to power about the importance of church-state separation.</p> <p><em>You’ll be first to see our brand-new Visibility Cam­paign:</em> You will be present as we roll out our first-ever National Visibility Campaign, designed to inspire a new generation of leaders to invest in our movement and fight back against religious discrimination. There is a lot more I wish I could tell you, but it’s a surprise! This I can say: There will be swag – lots of swag.</p> <p><em>You’ll pump up AU’s staff: </em>If that’s not reason enough, come nourish our hardworking staff by showing them your investment in our cause and AU and expressing your appreciation for all they do, because believe me, there isn’t a member of this staff who doesn’t pour their blood, sweat and tears into protecting our freedom of conscience.</p> <p>Though planning the Summit is a large investment of time and energy, it has already provided a wonderful opportunity for cross-departmental collaboration and for AU’s staff to take pride in what they have ac­com­plished. And that’s even before we get to spend time with you.</p> <p>We can’t wait to see you there!</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/foundations-of-church-state-separation" hreflang="en">Foundations of Church-State Separation</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/legal-foundations-of-church-state-separation" hreflang="en">Legal Foundations of Church-State Separation</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/jeff-sharlet" hreflang="en">Jeff Sharlet</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/family" hreflang="en">The Family</a></div> </div> </div> Mon, 10 Feb 2020 13:46:22 +0000 boston 16031 at https://www.au.org After This Year’s Embarrassment, It’s Time To End The National Prayer Breakfast https://www.au.org/blogs/prayer-breakfast-fallout <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">After This Year’s Embarrassment, It’s Time To End The National Prayer Breakfast</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, 02/07/2020 - 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/NPB%202020%20.jpg?h=65a8e87a&amp;itok=34w9_YUR" width="1700" height="525" alt="prayer breakfast " title="NPB" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>Fallout continues from President Donald Trump’s petulant, and frankly immature, behavior during yesterday’s <a href="https://www.politico.com/news/2020/02/06/donald-trump-lashes-out-impeachment-national-prayer-breakfast-111379">National Prayer Breakfast</a>.</p> <p>The event is allegedly designed to bridge the partisan divide, at least temporarily, by bringing religious believers who work in government together for fellowship. Trump was having none of that. He used his time at the podium to attack U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), who had the temerity to vote to impeach Trump, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who has been a frequent Trump critic.</p> <p>Trump treated Pelosi with ill-disguised contempt. She was sitting just a few seats away from him on the dais, when Trump remarked, “Nor do I like people who say, ‘I’ll pray for you,’ when I know that is not so.”</p> <p>The petty remark was a slap at Pelosi, who has pointed out that even though she strongly disagrees with Trump on policy issues, <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-congress-pelosi/pelosi-says-she-prays-for-trump-after-accusing-him-of-cover-up-idUSKCN1SS26C">she prays for him</a>.</p> <p>The fact that Trump refuses to believe that Pelosi might pray for someone even if she doesn’t see eye to eye with that person says a lot about the stunted state of his theological beliefs and the unfortunate influence right-wing evangelicals have had on them.</p> <p>In fact, praying for a person you might consider a foe isn’t unusual. Kind, decent Christians do it all of the time. That’s not surprising because many Christians believe it is <a href="https://biblehub.com/matthew/5-44.htm">a clear commandment of Jesus</a>. The idea is alien only to those Christians who have elevated division, hate and fear above what many would consider to be the plain teachings of the faith’s founder.</p> <p><em>Washington Post </em>columnist Michel Gerson, himself a conservative evangelical, <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trumps-politicization-of-the-national-prayer-breakfast-is-unholy-and-immoral/2020/02/06/529518e4-4931-11ea-bdbf-1dfb23249293_story.html">wrote that Trump’s latest outburst</a> should be a challenge to Trump’s evangelical band of sycophants.</p> <p>“They must also somehow justify his discomfort with a central teaching of the Sermon on the Mount and his use of a prayer meeting to attack and defame his enemies,” Gerson wrote. “These evangelical Christian leaders will, of course, find some way to bless Trump’s sacrilege. But he makes their job ever harder and their moral surrender ever more obvious.”</p> <p>Gerson also said he’d understand if Democrats chose to not attend the breakfast next year, and he recommended that “religious people of every background should no longer give credence to this parody of a prayer meeting.”</p> <p>Indeed. <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/trump-speech-NPB20">As we noted yesterday</a>, the National Prayer Breakfast, a private event, is sponsored by the <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/september-2009-church-state/featured/behind-the-green-door">Fellowship Foundation</a> (aka the Family), a far-right evangelical group whose theology and public policy goals exclude millions of Americans (members of the LGBTQ community, nontheists, non-Christians, progressives, feminists, etc.). Trump’s decision to use the event to mock conventional Christian theology – which, it’s worth pointing out, has been met with a veritable wall of silence from his Christian nationalist chorus – is only the latest embarrassment for this “God and country” charade.</p> <p>The National Prayer Breakfast is an anachronism. It’s also beyond reforming. After yesterday’s travesty, the best thing to do is shut it down.</p> <p>P.S. Want to learn more about the group behind the National Prayer Breakfast? Jeff Sharlet, an award-winning literary journalist and an expert on the group, will be the featured speaker at Americans United’s inaugural National Advocacy Summit in Washington, D.C., March 22-24. Sharlet is the author of <em>The New York Times</em> bestseller <em><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000SFZK3Y/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&amp;btkr=1">The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power</a></em> and <em><a href="https://www.amazon.com/Street-Fundamentalist-American-Democracy-Readers/dp/0316091065/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=c+street&amp;qid=1580919990&amp;s=books&amp;sr=1-1">C Street: The Fundamentalist Threat to American Democracy</a></em> as well as executive producer of a Netflix documentary series based on the books. More information about the Summit is <a href="https://www.au.org/conference">available here</a>.</p> <p><em>Photo: Screenshot from C-SPAN</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/donald-trump" hreflang="en">Donald Trump</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/national-prayer-breakfast" hreflang="en">National Prayer Breakfast</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/fellowship-foundation-0" hreflang="en">Fellowship Foundation</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/family" hreflang="en">The Family</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/jeff-sharlet" hreflang="en">Jeff Sharlet</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/evangelical-christianity" hreflang="en">Evangelical Christianity</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/michael-gerson" hreflang="en">Michael Gerson</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/nancy-pelosi" hreflang="en">Nancy Pelosi</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/mitt-romney" hreflang="en">Mitt Romney</a></div> </div> </div> Fri, 07 Feb 2020 15:57:52 +0000 boston 16030 at https://www.au.org Trump’s Call For Inclusion At The National Prayer Breakfast Rings Hollow https://www.au.org/blogs/trump-speech-NPB20 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Trump’s Call For Inclusion At The National Prayer Breakfast Rings Hollow</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, 02/06/2020 - 10:49</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/trump%20with%20newspaper%202.6.20%20.jpg?h=75fe8478&amp;itok=eAAfTG4d" width="1700" height="525" alt="trump with paper" title="headline " typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>The National Prayer Breakfast was this morning. It was pretty much what we’ve come to expect under President Donald Trump: a lot of gloating mixed with Christian nationalist rhetoric. Trump’s speech was also marked by claims that this administration is protecting religious freedom – an assertion that falls apart under even casual scrutiny.</p> <p>Before he spoke, Trump waved newspapers proclaiming his Senate acquittal in his impeachment trial and later told the crowd that the country had been “put through a terrible ordeal by some very dishonest and corrupt people.” He praised Republican senators for doing “what everyone knows was right” and criticized political leaders who, as he put it, "use their faith as justification for doing what they know is wrong; nor do I like people who say, ‘I pray for you,’ when they know that that’s not so" – a not-so-subtle dig at U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), who <a href="https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/invoking-faith-emotional-mitt-romney-announces-hell-vote/story?id=68779768">cited his faith</a> when announcing he’d be the lone Republican to vote to impeach, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who was sitting a few chairs away from Trump on the prayer breakfast stage. (Pelosi, a Catholic, has said she <a href="https://www.ncronline.org/news/opinion/signs-times/why-nancy-pelosi-doesnt-hate-president-and-prays-him-instead">prays for Trump regularly</a>.)</p> <p>From there, Trump went on to make his usual bombastic claims about religion, lauding “historic action” he has allegedly taken to protect our freedoms. He singled out his administration’s recent guidance on school prayer, once again falsely claimed to have made it possible for religious leaders to endorse candidates in partisan political campaigns and touted his administration’s anti-abortion record.</p> <p>Although much of Trump’s speech was his usual braggadocio, one line stood out for its disingenuousness. “Together we are building the world’s most prosperous and inclusive society,” Trump said. “We are lifting up citizens of every race, color, religion and creed.”</p> <p>Really? Are members of the LGBTQ community, whose rights have been <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/december-2018-church-state/cover-story/reversal-of-fortune-lgbtq-rights-in-america">under constant attack</a> from this administration, being lifted up? How are millions of American women, whose reproductive health care is being steadily eroded, faring in this supposedly “inclusive” atmosphere? Are the Muslims who <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/people-are-being-harmed-by-president-trumps-muslim-ban-here-are-some-of">have been banned</a> from traveling to this nation for no other reason than their religion included in Trump’s America? What about the growing number of non-Christians, especially nontheists (whose existence Trump never even bothers to acknowledge)? Are they feeling welcome by an administration that embraces Christian nationalism and assaults church-state separation at every turn?</p> <p>Talk about civility, decency and the need to love one another marks the National Prayer Breakfast, but there’s reason to be skeptical. The event is sponsored by <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/september-2009-church-state/featured/behind-the-green-door">the Fellowship Foundation</a> (aka “the Family”), a secretive and aggressive band of Christian nationalists whose theocratic vision for America excludes millions of people who are the “wrong” type of Christian, the “wrong” type of believer or simply don’t believe at all. Allied with groups like <a href="https://www.au.org/tags/project-blitz">Project Blitz</a>, the Family and a host of other Religious Right organizations seek to remake America in their own narrow image of what constitutes authentic faith.</p> <p>Today they may speak nice words about all of us getting along. Tomorrow they’ll be right back in the state legislatures and in Congress working to pass legislation that elevates their religious privilege and forces all of us to live under and subsidize a version of fundamentalist Christianity that is far from kind, loving or inclusive.</p> <p>Americans United will keep fighting them, every day, with all we’ve got. <a href="https://www.au.org/become-a-member">With your help</a>, we’ll continue working toward a nation based on true inclusion, not the faux version proffered by Trump and his evangelical allies. We’ll build a nation where you’re free to practice a faith, or no faith at all, as long as you don’t harm others and where no one is compelled to live under the rule of someone else’s religion.</p> <p><em>Photo: Screenshot from C-SPAN</em></p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issues field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Issues</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/religious-freedom" hreflang="en">Religious Freedom</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/nontheists-rights" hreflang="en">Nontheists&#039; Rights</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/family" hreflang="en">The Family</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/national-prayer-breakfast" hreflang="en">National Prayer Breakfast</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/project-blitz" hreflang="en">Project Blitz</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/donald-trump" hreflang="en">Donald Trump</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/nancy-pelosi" hreflang="en">Nancy Pelosi</a></div> </div> </div> Thu, 06 Feb 2020 15:49:02 +0000 boston 16029 at https://www.au.org The National Prayer Breakfast Is Tomorrow. Get Ready For Another Serving Of ‘God And Country’ Rhetoric https://www.au.org/blogs/prayer-breakfast-coming <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">The National Prayer Breakfast Is Tomorrow. Get Ready For Another Serving Of ‘God And Country’ Rhetoric</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, 02/05/2020 - 11:34</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/trump%20prayer%20bfast%202019.jpg?h=66aefa9c&amp;itok=UJe2co4Z" width="1700" height="525" alt="trump prayer bfast" title="NPB " typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>One would think President Donald Trump would need a break after spewing the fusillade of nonsense that was his State of the Union address, but no such luck – he’ll be back tomorrow with more at the National Prayer Breakfast (NPB).</p> <p>We don’t know what Trump will say at the NPB. Being Trump, it could be anything. But we do know he’ll take full advantage of this platform to pander to his base of evangelical Christian supporters. In 2017, Trump used the event to announce that he was signing <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/march-2017-church-state/people-events/trump-vows-to-destroy-johnson-amendment-rule">an executive order</a> undermining the Johnson Amendment, a federal law that protects the integrity of houses of worship by ensuring that they don’t get ensnared in partisan politics. The order was a typical Trump bombast – it was a lot of words but <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/february-2019-church-state-magazine/featured/johnson-amendment-undestroyed-trump-vowed">didn’t do anything</a>. As a federal law, the Johnson Amendment can’t be overturned by an executive order.</p> <p>At last year’s breakfast, Trump touted his administration’s efforts to allow taxpayer-funded, faith-based foster care and adoption agencies to reject qualified parents who are the “wrong” religion or LGBTQ – a policy that harms the nearly half-million children in foster care nationwide in search of loving families. And in 2018, Trump claimed, “America’s a nation of believers, and together we are strengthened by the power of prayer” – an insult to the millions of Americans who are not religious, do not pray or do not believe in a god.</p> <p>We at Americans United will be watching tomorrow and will be ready to fight back against any attacks on religious freedom.</p> <p>And in case anyone has forgotten, the Prayer Breakfast is a private event sponsored by the Family. Featured in a recent Netflix documentary, the Family is a secretive Christian nationalist organization that has built extensive and deep networks to influence high-level government officials both in the U.S. and around the world. Like Project Blitz, it’s part of the thriving and emboldened Christian nationalist political movement in America that is determined to undermine our constitutional commitment to religious freedom through the separation of religion and government.</p> <p>Like Project Blitz, the Family operates largely behind closed doors. As the late Doug Coe, leader of the Family, said, “The more invisible you can make your organization, the more influence it will have.” These secretive societies meet year-round in private with federal and state lawmakers and their allies to lobby for policies that promote a regressive social agenda particularly harmful to LGBTQ people, women, religious minorities and the nonreligious.</p> <p>It would be smart for U.S. elected officials to avoid the National Prayer Breakfast and the agenda it promotes. The president doesn’t have to attend, but they always do. Its roots go back to the 1950s and the administration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the era when “civil religion” became so prominent in American public life.</p> <p>The breakfast has devolved into a litany of offensive “God and country” bromides that fail to take into account the <a href="https://www.pewforum.org/2019/10/17/in-u-s-decline-of-christianity-continues-at-rapid-pace/">rapidly changing religious demographics</a> of the United States. With more and more Americans considering themselves nonreligious, the last thing we need is a bevy of political leaders implying that to be a true American, you must also be religious. Yet that’s often what we hear at the NPB.</p> <p>The National Prayer Breakfast has outlived its usefulness – if it ever had any to begin with. Trump, who loves nothing more than to kowtow to his evangelical base, may revel in it, but it’s time for everyone else to skip this breakfast.</p> <p>P.S. The Family’s agenda and the extent of its influence on American democracy was exposed by the meticulous investigating of Jeff Sharlet, an award-winning literary journalist, author of <em>The New York Times</em> bestseller <em><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000SFZK3Y/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&amp;btkr=1">The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power</a></em> and <em><a href="https://www.amazon.com/Street-Fundamentalist-American-Democracy-Readers/dp/0316091065/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=c+street&amp;qid=1580919990&amp;s=books&amp;sr=1-1">C Street: The Fundamentalist Threat to American Democracy</a></em> and executive producer of the Netflix documentary series based on the books. Sharlet will be the featured speaker at Americans United’s inaugural National Advocacy Summit in Washington, D.C., March 22-24. More information is <a href="https://www.au.org/conference">available here</a>.</p> <p><em>Photo: Screenshot of the 2019 National Prayer Breakfast from C-SPAN </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/religious-freedom" hreflang="en">Religious Freedom</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/nontheists-rights" hreflang="en">Nontheists&#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/donald-trump" hreflang="en">Donald Trump</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/family" hreflang="en">The Family</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/national-prayer-breakfast" hreflang="en">National Prayer Breakfast</a></div> </div> </div> Wed, 05 Feb 2020 16:34:22 +0000 boston 16027 at https://www.au.org Trump Is Preparing To Push A Nationwide Voucher Plan. Here’s What You Need To Know. https://www.au.org/blogs/trump-SOTU-vouchers <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Trump Is Preparing To Push A Nationwide Voucher Plan. Here’s What You Need To Know. </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, 02/04/2020 - 09:25</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/about/people/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_0.jpg?h=3e5942b1&amp;itok=H-97FmRo" 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>Several media outlets have reported that during tonight’s State of the Union address, President Donald Trump<a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/trump-plans-to-tout-school-choice-in-state-of-the-union/2020/02/01/0553a136-4526-11ea-b503-2b077c436617_story.html"> </a><a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/trump-plans-to-tout-school-choice-in-state-of-the-union/2020/02/01/0553a136-4526-11ea-b503-2b077c436617_story.html">will highlight</a> a scheme to funnel taxpayer money to private schools – in other words, a nationwide voucher plan.</p> <p><em>The Washington Post</em> reported that under the plan, euphemistically called “Education Freedom Scholarships,” individuals and corporations would receive a 100 percent tax credit for money they donate to subsidize vouchers. The plan, cooked up Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, has a price tag of a whopping $5 billion. (And despite what DeVos claims, that's taxpayer money, <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2019/04/05/lets-fact-check-this-betsy-devos-tweet-about-trumps-billion-school-tax-credit-proposal/">not private funding</a>.)</p> <p>Since this plan is likely to get a lot of attention in the days and weeks to come, it’s important to brush up on the dangers of vouchers. The<a href="https://www.ncpecoalition.org/"> </a><a href="https://www.ncpecoalition.org/">National Coalition for Public Education</a>, which Americans United co-chairs, has a lot of material on its website that you can use to debunk the claims of voucher proponents.</p> <p>Here are some key talking points to keep in mind:</p> <p><em>Vouchers subsidize religious education with public dollars: </em>Most private schools are religious in nature. They should be supported by the people who believe in the faith they spread, not government funds. Yet, voucher plans use taxpayer funds to support these schools, rather than using those funds to support our public schools.</p> <p><em>Vouchers don’t work:</em> Vouchers are supposed to boost student achievement – but they don’t. Objective studies of existing voucher plans in states like Louisiana, Ohio, Indiana and in the city of Washington, D.C., have shown that students offered vouchers<a href="https://www.ncpecoalition.org/academic-achievement"> </a><a href="https://www.ncpecoalition.org/academic-achievement">showed no improvement</a> in reading or math over those not in the program. In some states, students in voucher school actually performed worse than their public school counterparts.</p> <p><em>Vouchers subsidize schools that discriminate: </em>Unlike public schools, private schools are under no obligation to educate the masses. They can and do deny admission to or expel students for being LGBTQ (or even for having parents who are the same gender), for being the “wrong” religion or for running afoul of religious rules. In addition, faculty and staff at these schools have little protection when it comes to employment.</p> <p><em>Vouchers harm public education:</em> 90 percent of America’s schoolchildren attend public schools. These schools welcome all children, regardless of race, religion, income level, sexual orientation, special needs status, etc. Our scarce tax dollars should be reserved for the system that serves everyone, not funneled to private schools that lack the capacity to educate the masses.</p> <p><em>Vouchers are not what the American people want: </em>Every time voters have had an opportunity to vote on voucher plans directly through ballot initiatives, they have rejected these schemes – usually by wide margins. Most recently, voters in the conservative state of Arizona<a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/january-2019-church-state/cover-story/saving-arizona-far-right-forces-were-eager-to"> </a><a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/january-2019-church-state/cover-story/saving-arizona-far-right-forces-were-eager-to">turned back</a> a plan to create a statewide voucher plan, with 65 percent voting against it. </p> <p>Visit<a href="https://www.ncpecoalition.org/"> </a><a href="https://www.ncpecoalition.org/">NCPE’s website</a> to learn more about the dangers of vouchers, and <a href="https://secure.everyaction.com/vIuroUC4KE-0J_25RWKRrQ2?ms=Lightbox_PublicSchools_012020">sign this petition</a> to make it clear that you support public funds for public schools. Also, please<a href="https://www.au.org/become-a-member"> </a><a href="https://www.au.org/become-a-member">join Americans United</a> as we work to oppose this misguided Trump scheme and all voucher boondoggles.</p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issues field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Issues</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/private-school-vouchers" hreflang="en">Private School Vouchers</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Tags</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/ncpe" hreflang="en">NCPE</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/trump-administration" hreflang="en">Trump Administration</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/betsy-devos" hreflang="en">Betsy DeVos</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/education" hreflang="en">Education</a></div> </div> </div> Tue, 04 Feb 2020 14:25:21 +0000 boston 16026 at https://www.au.org We Are All ‘Militant Secularists’ Now https://www.au.org/blogs/william-barr-secularists <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">We Are All ‘Militant Secularists’ Now</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, 02/03/2020 - 09:31</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/about/people/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_0.PNG?h=ca66d86e&amp;itok=UMp9AicB" width="1700" height="525" alt="W. Barr " title="Barr " typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>Attorney General William Barr is at it again.</p> <p><a href="https://www.nationalreview.com/news/barr-warns-cardinal-dolan-of-militant-secular-effort-to-curtail-religious-freedom/">Appearing on a radio show</a> hosted by New York Roman Catholic Cardinal Timothy Dolan last week, Barr tore into church-state separation once more, this time blaming “militant secularists” for a host of problems.</p> <p>“I feel today religion is being driven out of the marketplace of ideas, and there’s an organized, militant secular effort to drive religion out of our lives,” Barr said. “To me, the problem today is not that religious people are trying to impose their views on non-religious people. It’s the opposite. It’s that militant secularists are trying to impose their values on religious people, and they’re not accommodating the freedom of religion of people of faith.”</p> <p>When you read something like this, you really can’t help but ask yourself a pertinent question: <em>What planet does Barr live on? </em></p> <p>For the past three years, the Trump administration has been laboring to turn religious freedom into an instrument of discrimination, a device to treat some people (LGBTQ folks, women, Muslims and other religious minorities, nonbelievers, etc.) as if they have second-class status.  </p> <p>This administration has repeatedly sought to <a href="https://www.au.org/media/press-releases/us-supreme-court-should-affirm-that-trump-birth-control-rules-violate">deny people access to contraceptives</a> because some bosses claim it offends their religious beliefs. It has backed religious discrimination in taxpayer-funded <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/april-2019-church-state-magazine/cover-story/fostering-discrimination-catholic-aimee">foster care and adoption programs</a>. It <a href="https://www.au.org/media/press-releases/trump-uses-religious-freedom-day-to-violate-religious-freedom-for-public">has issued rules</a> that put the most vulnerable members of our society – the poor, the homeless, those grappling with addictions – at risk by stripping away their protections in “faith-based” programs. It has traded in crude stereotypes against Muslims and <a href="https://www.au.org/media/press-releases/americans-united-denounces-president-trumps-muslim-ban-expansion-as-continued">undermined their right to travel</a> to the U.S. It has argued that government has the right to <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/january-2019-church-state/featured/church-state-separation-at-the-crossroads-will-the">display towering crosses</a>, the central symbol of the Christian faith, on public property, and charge the taxpayer for it. It kicked transgender people <a href="https://www.thedailybeast.com/trumps-transgender-military-ban-takes-effect-today">out of the military</a> because the Religious Right doesn’t like them. It supports immersing houses of worship in <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/february-2019-church-state-magazine/featured/johnson-amendment-undestroyed-trump-vowed">partisan politics</a>. It has worked to <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/24/us/politics/trump-abortion-march-life.html">end reproductive freedoms</a>. It told the Supreme Court that taxpayers should be <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/oral-argument-montana">compelled to support</a> religious groups and religious schools.</p> <p>The administration did these things – yet we’re to believe that “militant secularists” are the problem? That “militant secularists” are the ones trying to force their views onto people?</p> <p>Please.</p> <p>Barr, like his boss Trump, is a master gaslighter. He <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/december-2019-church-state-magazine/cover-story/whos-afraid-of-secularism-the-us">repeatedly asserts</a> that things are the opposite of the way they really are. In his strange world, up is down, black is white and you can’t believe the evidence of your own eyes. </p> <p>Key to this is Barr’s use of words – and how he defines them. To Christian nationalists, “militant” is anyone who dares to stand up to them and expose their theocratic agenda for the freedom-crushing miasma that it is. And a “secularist” to Barr and his allies must be someone who hates religion.</p> <p>Let’s consider those two words. Are we at AU militant? If that term means we’re going to forcefully and powerfully oppose the schemes of Barr, Trump and their Christian nationalist allies to merge religion and government, then yes, we’re militant. Are we secularists? Sure, we are because we back secular government – just like our Founding Fathers. But that in no way makes us anti-religion – quite the opposite. Some of AU’s members are believers and some are not, but all support secular government because they know it’s the best vehicle for protecting the rights of everyone, from the most committed Christian to the most ardent atheist.</p> <p>So, in the end, what Barr intends as a smear is actually a badge of honor. Let’s wear it with pride as we remind Barr at every turn that millions of Americans oppose his narrow vision for our nation and will fight it with every legal and moral means at our disposal.</p> <p>We hope you’ll <a href="https://www.au.org/become-a-member">get involved</a>. In light of this administration’s relentless assault on church-state separation, the nation could use a few more militant secularists right now.</p> <p><em>Photo: William Barr speaking at the University of Notre Dame. Screenshot from The Wall Street Journal. </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/discrimination-in-the-name-of-religion" hreflang="en">Discrimination In The Name of Religion</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/government-support-of-religion" hreflang="en">Government Support Of Religion</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/private-school-vouchers" hreflang="en">Private School Vouchers</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/display-of-religious-symbols" hreflang="en">display of religious symbols</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/trump-administration" hreflang="en">Trump Administration</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/william-barr" hreflang="en">William Barr</a></div> </div> </div> Mon, 03 Feb 2020 14:31:31 +0000 boston 16016 at https://www.au.org