The Wall of Separation Blog https://www.au.org/ en White Evangelical Christians Sticking With Trump Until The Bitter End https://www.au.org/blogs/white-evangelicals-trump <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">White Evangelical Christians Sticking With Trump Until The Bitter End</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 Jan 14, 2021 - 09:34</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/VVS%20crowd_0.jpg?h=20513853&amp;itok=eSSPAJTx" width="1700" height="525" alt="VVS crowd" title="Values Voter Summit" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>President Donald Trump yesterday managed the dubious achievement of becoming the only U.S. president to be <a href="https://apnews.com/article/trump-impeachment-vote-capitol-siege-0a6f2a348a6e43f27d5e1dc486027860">impeached twice</a>.</p> <p>While <a href="https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/trump-impeachment-removal-polls/">polls show</a> a majority of Americans favor impeachment, Trump’s most dogged supporters are furious. Who are these people? In the wake of last week’s insurrection, reporters have been analyzing the mob that attacked the U.S. Capitol. They’re finding a strange mishmash of conspiracy theorists, racists, xenophobes, militia cranks and right-wing populists.</p> <p>But there’s another element of Trump’s diehard coalition that we shouldn’t overlook: white evangelical Christians. <a href="https://religionnews.com/2021/01/12/the-faith-of-the-insurrectionists/">We know they were there</a> on Jan. 6; photos show them hoisting signs bearing crosses and references to Jesus.</p> <p>This isn’t surprising. White evangelicals have been among Trump’s strongest supporters. About 80% of them voted for Trump in 2016, a figure that more or less held steady in 2020.</p> <p>Scholar Ryan P. Burge at Eastern Illinois University <a href="https://religioninpublic.blog/2021/01/13/who-are-trumps-most-ardent-supporters/">analyzed data</a> from the Cooperative Congressional Election Study, which surveyed 18,000 Americans in November of 2019. As Burge put it, “They asked a number of questions that can help us start to generate a picture of Donald Trump’s most ardent supporters and may help us understand what factors led to the violent and despicable acts that were perpetrated on the American public [Jan. 6.]”</p> <p>When Burge examined the people who consider themselves “very conservative” and who said they “strongly approved” of Trump, he found something interesting about their religious beliefs: They don’t align with the rest of America. Nearly half of these people identified as evangelicals, while in the general population, that figure is much lower at about 22%.  </p> <p>Burge also found that Trump’s most ardent supporters are more likely to attend religious services than the rest of the population. He observed, “Clearly, Trump’s support is deeply intertwined with religious concerns and devotion to religion and to the 45th president are correlated.”</p> <p>I’ve observed this phenomenon firsthand. During the 2016 campaign and after Trump’s election, I sat in on meetings of Christian nationalist groups and observed members swoon as Trump spewed invective and bile. Over the past four years, I’ve read their websites and publications as they time and again found excuses for his crass behavior. Most recently I watched, disgusted, as they <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/blame-the-progressives">attempted to absolve him</a> for inciting a violent attack on the very symbol of American democracy.</p> <p>What can possibly explain this behavior? In his conclusion, Burge gets right to the heart of it, pointing out that right-wing evangelicals saw their support of Trump as a <em>quid pro quo</em> arrangement.</p> <p>“Donald Trump, first and foremost, is a showman who loves to reward his supporters who have shown unshakable devotion to him over the last four years,” wrote Burge. “His gift to these people is that he gave them what they wanted – a policy agenda that continued to shift to the right as each year passed of his administration. And in return, the most loyal portion of Trump’s constituency returned the favor by doing exactly what he asked them to do: storm the United States Capitol building to delay the counting of the electoral college votes. …”</p> <p>But at what cost? In just six days, Trump will no longer be president. It will take a long time to remove the stain of his rule from our national psyche. As for the right-wing evangelicals who enabled him, they’ll carry the shame forever.</p> <p><em>Photo: Trump supporters at the Christian nationalists’ Values Voter Summit meeting</em></p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Tags</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/religious-right-0" hreflang="en">Religious Right</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/donald-trump" hreflang="en">Donald Trump</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/values-voter-summit" hreflang="en">Values Voter Summit</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/evangelical-christianity" hreflang="en">Evangelical Christianity</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/polls" hreflang="en">polls</a></div> </div> </div> Thu, 14 Jan 2021 14:34:49 +0000 boston 16581 at https://www.au.org Top Southern Baptist Official Says Trump Must Go https://www.au.org/blogs/Moore-says-impeach <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Top Southern Baptist Official Says Trump Must Go</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 Jan 13, 2021 - 09:20</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/about/people/rob-boston" hreflang="und">Rob Boston</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image"> <label>Image</label> <div class="item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/banner/public/images/blog_post/trump%20crowd%202%20.png?h=072c3fbd&amp;itok=8b3pDsBb" width="1700" height="525" alt="crowd" title="Trump crowd" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>This blog has been <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/blame-the-progressives">highly critical</a> of evangelical Christian leaders who have continued to support President Donald Trump even in the face of his incitement of last week’s insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.</p> <p>In fairness, we should note that there is at least one prominent figure from this community who has taken a different approach, a man who has condemned Trump and unequivocally called for him to resign or be impeached: Russell D. Moore, president of the Ethics &amp; Religious Liberty Commission, the public policy unit of the Southern Baptist Convention.</p> <p>Moore and Americans United don’t see eye to eye on many issues, but there’s no denying that in this case, he’s taking a principled stand – one that might even cost him his job.</p> <p><a href="https://www.russellmoore.com/2021/01/11/the-roman-road-from-insurrection/">In a recent essay</a>, Moore doesn’t hesitate to call the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol what it was: “an insurrection of domestic terrorists, incited and fomented by the President of the United States.”</p> <p>Observed Moore, “The President invited mobs to Washington – promising a ‘wild’ time – and told them to march to the Capitol. Despite the fact that there was not one thing that Vice President Pence could have lawfully done, the President called him a coward, and whipped up crowds against him who, many of them, then chanted ‘Hang Mike Pence!’ while constructing gallows on the Capitol grounds. An American flag was thrown down and replaced with a Trump flag, while another insurrectionist paraded a Confederate flag through the Capitol. Police officers were attacked. Congressional leaders hid while the doors buckled from mobs seeking to attack them. People are dead. The Capitol is ransacked. Administration officials are resigning in protest.”</p> <p>Added Moore, “If you read nothing else, read this: If you can defend this, you can defend <em>anything</em>. If you can wave this away with ‘well, what about…’ or by changing the subject to a private platform removing an account inciting violence as ‘Orwellian,’ then where, at long last, is your limit?”</p> <p>Moore goes on to debunk several Christian nationalist talking points. He noted that President-elect Joe Biden won fair and square and that the mob that assaulted the Capitol was not composed of antifa infiltrators.</p> <p>Moore doesn’t hesitate to call out right-wing evangelical hypocrisy, writing, “If President Obama tried to overturn an election, and incited his supporters to storm the Capitol, to desecrate the flag, to kill innocent people and to terrorize many others with pipe bombs and hand-ties and weapons, every evangelical Christian would be, rightly, denouncing such with the strongest possible terms (and many would be suggesting that we were in the reign of the Antichrist), and every one of us knows that is true.”</p> <p>Finally, Moore states without hesitation that Trump must go.</p> <p>“If I were the President, I would resign,” he writes. “If I were the Vice President, I would assemble the cabinet in accordance with the 25th Amendment. If I were a Member of Congress, I would vote to impeach. And if I were a United States senator, I would vote to convict. And I would be willing, if necessary, to lose my seat to do so. As a matter of fact, I am willing, if necessary, to lose this seat.”</p> <p>Moore’s essay is written in the context of Christian ethics and cites specific scripture references. This isn’t surprising, given Moore’s audience. In fact, it’s necessary. But no matter what you may believe or not believe about faith, Moore’s important statement is well worth some of your time.</p> <p><em>Photo: A mob attacks the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Screenshot from Washington Post video. </em></p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Tags</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/donald-trump" hreflang="en">Donald Trump</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/russell-moore" hreflang="en">Russell Moore</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/southern-baptist-convention" hreflang="en">Southern Baptist Convention</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/joe-biden" hreflang="en">Joe Biden</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/religious-right-0" hreflang="en">Religious Right</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/us-capitol" hreflang="en">U.S. Capitol</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/barack-obama" hreflang="en">Barack Obama</a></div> </div> </div> Wed, 13 Jan 2021 14:20:46 +0000 boston 16580 at https://www.au.org Christian Nationalists Are Now Blaming Trump’s Insurrection On Progressives https://www.au.org/blogs/blame-the-progressives <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Christian Nationalists Are Now Blaming Trump’s Insurrection On Progressives</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 Jan 12, 2021 - 09:44</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/about/people/rob-boston" hreflang="und">Rob Boston</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image"> <label>Image</label> <div class="item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/banner/public/images/blog_post/us%20cap%20clouds%20.jpg?h=54d03a78&amp;itok=rP0M_0kL" width="1700" height="525" alt="Capitol " title="US Capitol clouds " typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>It has been nearly a week since the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol Building, and Christian nationalists are continuing their offensive and desperate crusade to find someone other than President Donald Trump to blame for the appalling attack.</p> <p>First, they tried to pin it on antifa, an all-purpose bogeyman for the far right. That failed after the <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2021/01/08/fbi-says-no-indication-that-antifa-took-part-in-us-capitol-riot.html">FBI reported that it has uncovered no evidence</a> that antifa activists were present during the assault. A recent <a href="https://apnews.com/article/us-capitol-trump-supporters-1806ea8dc15a2c04f2a68acd6b55cace">Associated Press story</a> also debunks the claim, as do the numerous arrests that have occurred since the failed coup: They’re all Trump supporters. </p> <p>Perhaps sensing this lie has no legs, Religious Right groups are shifting gears and asserting that Trump never wanted to see violence like this, and the attack can actually be blamed on – wait for it – liberal Democrats.</p> <p>“There have been so many Trump rallies over the last several years,” talk radio show host Janet Mefferd <a href="https://onenewsnow.com/politics-govt/2021/01/11/dems-continue-selling-out-america-in-new-impeachment-push">told the American Family Association</a> (AFA). “I don’t think that he had any intention of turning that crowd into a bunch of rioters who would storm the Capitol. Why in the world would he want that to happen?”</p> <p>Anyone who lives in the real world knows why: Trump had spent the prior two months telling his supporters that an election that he clearly lost had been stolen from him. When he addressed the crowd prior to their attack, he made it clear that he wanted the mob to overrun the Capitol in the belief that it would secure him four more years. Today’s <em>Washington Post</em> <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-mob-failure/2021/01/11/36a46e2e-542e-11eb-a817-e5e7f8a406d6_story.html">reports</a> that Trump, while safely ensconced in the White House, enjoyed watching the throng rampaging through the Capitol on live television.</p> <p>This behavior should not surprise anyone. Trump has <a href="https://www.vox.com/21506029/trump-violence-tweets-racist-hate-speech">a long history of inciting violence</a> and egging on the behavior of extremists. Remember, this is the guy who couldn’t even find the words to condemn the neo-Nazis who marched in Charlottesville, Va.</p> <p>In the same AFA story, another far-right Christian radio host, Alex McFarland, asserts that Democrats are to blame. You see, they made conservatives angry because “for years [liberals] have built their platform on class envy [and] power at any cost….”</p> <p>Let’s unpack this remarkable statement: Some conservatives were upset over things Democrats said and did politically – and in McFarland’s mind, that apparently justified a violent assault on the Capitol during which the mob <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/08/us/brian-sicknick-police-capitol-dies.html">murdered one police officer</a>, <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2021/01/07/four-dead-after-pro-trump-rioters-storm-capitol.html">assaulted others</a>, <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/07/us/rioters-capitol-building-damage-photos-trnd/index.html">vandalized</a> the seat of American democracy, <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-cyber/laptop-stolen-from-pelosis-office-during-storming-of-us-capitol-says-aide-idUSKBN29D2HA">stole property</a> and, it increasingly appears, <a href="https://www.cbsnews.com/news/capitol-riots-zip-ties-larry-brock-eric-munchel-arrested/">plotted to abduct members of Congress</a>. (And don’t get me started on McFarland’s claim that it’s Democrats who want to hold on to power at any cost in light of the dozens of meritless post-election lawsuits filed by Trump and his allies challenging the results.)</p> <p>Christian nationalists, who are normally so quick to judge others, would benefit from some soul-searching right now. But despite their claims to be the holders of a superior form of morality thanks to their fundamentalist beliefs, they are incapable of any serious form of reflection. Instead, they take their marching orders from the Gospel of Tucker Carlson and look for ways to exonerate Trump and shift the blame for his treasonous acts onto innocent parties.</p> <p>It won’t work. Trump will either be forced from office or leave on Jan. 20. Either way, he’ll depart in disgrace. Sadly, it’s unlikely his deluded Religious Right lackeys will follow him out the door.</p> <p> </p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Tags</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/donald-trump" hreflang="en">Donald Trump</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/religious-right-0" hreflang="en">Religious Right</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/us-capitol" hreflang="en">U.S. Capitol</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/afa" hreflang="en">AFA</a></div> </div> </div> Tue, 12 Jan 2021 14:44:22 +0000 boston 16578 at https://www.au.org Nebraska’s Legislature Loses A Champion Of Church-State Separation https://www.au.org/blogs/ernie-chambers-nebraska <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Nebraska’s Legislature Loses A Champion Of Church-State Separation</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 Jan 11, 2021 - 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/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/e%20chambers.png?h=47804ddf&amp;itok=cVqP8LTO" width="1700" height="525" alt="chambers" title="Ernie Chambers " typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>All of the drama swirling around the invasion of the U.S. Capitol, the U.S. Senate elections in Georgia and the certification of the presidential election in Congress last week obscured some other interesting political news of note.</p> <p>Consider this item from Nebraska: State senator Ernie Chambers <a href="https://omaha.com/news/state-and-regional/govt-and-politics/ernie-chambers-tenure-in-the-legislature-is-ending-again-but-his-devotion-to-his-causes/article_40861684-4bb1-11eb-88bf-332e591472cc.html">has retired</a> (again). You may not know Chambers’ name, but you should. He has had an amazing career – one marked by steadfast support for separation of church and state.</p> <p>Chambers was first elected to Nebraska’s unicameral legislature in 1970, representing a district in North Omaha. He was re-elected for the next 34 years and became the state’s longest-serving senator (as well as the first Black person to win election to that body).</p> <p>Advocates of church-state separation may remember Chambers as the plaintiff in a case that reached the <a href="https://www.oyez.org/cases/1982/82-23">Supreme Court in 1983</a>. Chambers, who has been open about his lack of religious beliefs, sued to end Nebraska’s practice of employing a taxpayer-funded chaplain to lead prayers before the Senate’s sessions. Although he lost the case, Chambers’ valiant battle highlighted the issue and made the question of the appropriateness of “civil religion” in a multi-faith, multi-philosophy society part of the public debate. Thanks to Chambers, we are still having that conversation many years later.</p> <p>During his decades in office, Chambers was a stalwart voice for progressive causes. He bothered some people, as those who speak truths often do. His style was plain-spoken but powerful. In 2016, I heard him speak during a conference sponsored by the American Humanist Association, where Chambers was being given a <a href="https://thehumanist.com/commentary/lifetime-service-celebrating-ernie-chambers/">Lifetime Achievement Award</a>. It was a powerful speech that included some thought-provoking material. Days later, I was still thinking about it.   </p> <p>In 2008, term limits forced Chambers out of office for one term. But he ran again in 2012 and won easily. He has now been pushed out due to term limits again, and at age 83 he’s not sure if he’ll run again.</p> <p>Ernie Chambers’ distinguished career has likely come to an end. The people of Nebraska are poorer for that.</p> <p><em>Photo: Ernie Chambers addresses attendees at an anti-racism rally. Screenshot from KMTV-TV</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/chaplains" hreflang="en">chaplains</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/legislative-prayer" hreflang="en">legislative prayer</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/nebraska" hreflang="en">Nebraska</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/aha" hreflang="en">AHA</a></div> </div> </div> Mon, 11 Jan 2021 14:14:20 +0000 boston 16577 at https://www.au.org Fans Of Public Education And Church-State Separation Won’t Miss Betsy DeVos https://www.au.org/blogs/devos-has-resigned <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Fans Of Public Education And Church-State Separation Won’t Miss Betsy DeVos</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 Jan 08, 2021 - 11:41</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/about/people/rob-boston" hreflang="und">Rob Boston</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image"> <label>Image</label> <div class="item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/banner/public/images/blog_post/Betsy%20Devos%203%20Cropped.png?h=7a8ca430&amp;itok=vAtfyGs8" width="1700" height="525" alt="DeVos" title="Betsy DeVos" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>We’re still seeing fallout from Wednesday’s abortive coup attempt by a raging mob inspired by President Donald Trump. The incident seems to have been a turning point for some of Trump’s most ardent backers, who are finally jumping ship. The latest to go is Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who<a href="https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/07/politics/betsy-devos-donald-trump/index.html"> </a><a href="https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/07/politics/betsy-devos-donald-trump/index.html">announced her resignation</a> last night.</p> <p>DeVos has been one of Trump’s most loyal backers and stayed with him all four years. During that time, she ignored the needs of public schools and relentlessly promoted school vouchers.</p> <p>When Trump announced he would appoint DeVos to the top education slot after the 2016 election, Americans United was quick to<a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/4-things-we-learned-about-betsy-devos-at-her-confirmation-hearing"> </a><a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/4-things-we-learned-about-betsy-devos-at-her-confirmation-hearing">sound the alarm</a>. We had been following her career for years and knew that not only did DeVos have no experience working in public education, she was hostile to the very concept. In her native Michigan, she pushed voucher plans incessantly, taking her advocacy of these schemes nationwide through <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/september-2010-church-state/featured/sneak-attack">a front group</a> she called American Federation for Children. (It originally had a more honest name: Advocates for School Choice.)</p> <p>Sure enough, DeVos spent the past four years acting as a cheerleader for privatization, although she was never able to get a national voucher plan into law. Under her scheme, private schools should be able to tap the public purse yet remain largely unaccountable. She would allow even schools receiving public funds to ignore federal laws that protect students with disabilities, dodge even the most basic forms of oversight and teach junk science and other questionable curriculum materials.</p> <p>Driven by an extreme privatization-at-all-costs ideology, DeVos ignored inconvenient truths. She refused to acknowledge the numerous studies showing that vouchers<a href="https://www.ncpecoalition.org/academic-achievement"> </a><a href="https://www.ncpecoalition.org/academic-achievement">don’t improve student performance</a>, and she simply overlooked the fact that most Americans<a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/january-2019-church-state/featured/the-people-have-spoken-private-school-vouchers-have"> </a><a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/january-2019-church-state/featured/the-people-have-spoken-private-school-vouchers-have">don’t support</a> these schemes and have, time and again, rejected them at the ballot box.</p> <p>In America, 90 percent of our young people attend public schools. Unlike private schools, which have the right to pick and choose among students, our public schools welcome everyone, regardless of race, religion, socioeconomic background or other factors. The best way to ensure success for all is to focus on the public system. DeVos either didn’t know this or didn’t care.</p> <p>President-elect Joe Biden<a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-biden-education/biden-names-former-public-school-teacher-miguel-cardona-for-secretary-of-education-idUSKBN28X01I"> </a><a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-biden-education/biden-names-former-public-school-teacher-miguel-cardona-for-secretary-of-education-idUSKBN28X01I">has nominated Miguel Cardona</a> to be his education secretary. Unlike DeVos, Cardona has had a long and distinguished career in public education. He has been a classroom teacher and an administrator. Most recently, he served as Connecticut’s commissioner of education.</p> <p>At Americans United, we’re hopeful for a new day at the Education Department. Assuming he is confirmed, Cardona will have a lot of work to do to clean up the mess left behind by DeVos and her wrecking crew. Job one will be getting the department’s focus back where it belongs: strengthening, improving and adequately funding the public school system for the benefit of all Americans.</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/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/betsy-devos" hreflang="en">Betsy DeVos</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/donald-trump" hreflang="en">Donald Trump</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/us-department-education" hreflang="en">U.S. Department of Education</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/neo-vouchers" hreflang="en">neo-vouchers</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/public-education" hreflang="en">public education</a></div> </div> </div> Fri, 08 Jan 2021 16:41:55 +0000 boston 16575 at https://www.au.org Christian Nationalists Try To Blame Trump’s Riot On Antifa https://www.au.org/blogs/Religious-Right-blame-antifa <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Christian Nationalists Try To Blame Trump’s Riot On Antifa</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 Jan 07, 2021 - 13:59</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%20nuts%20.png?h=e29b5231&amp;itok=m8p6ny7z" width="1700" height="525" alt="trump coup" title="coup supporters" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>Anyone watching the violence unfold at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday had to wonder how President Donald Trump’s Christian nationalist sycophants were possibly going to spin this one.</p> <p>The images were stark: Bands of marauding Trump supporters plowed through barricades, broke windows and forced their way into the Capitol building where they rampaged for hours until police restored order. They did these things in part because, earlier in the day, Trump had delivered an incendiary speech urging his supporters to head to the Capitol and continued to insist, against all evidence, that the election had been stolen from him.</p> <p>How do you possibly put a good face on this? You can’t, so the Religious Right has decided to take a page from Trump’s playbook and construct a “fake news” version of events: Trump supporters were not responsible for the violence at the Capitol, antifa was.</p> <p>Even as events were unfolding, evangelist Franklin Graham <a href="https://religionnews.com/2021/01/06/faith-leaders-react-to-mob-at-capitol-with-prayers-calls-for-end-to-violence/">issued a statement</a> reading, “The people who broke the windows in the Capital [sic] did not look like the people out there demonstrating. Most likely it was antifa.” (Nope – they were one and the same: Trump supporters.)</p> <p>Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, <a href="https://twitter.com/sarahposner/status/1347208198051278850">opined during a radio broadcast</a> that it is “still uncertain as to the full composition of the group that breached security and made their way into the Capitol.” (Not really. They were Trump supporters.)</p> <p>Richard Land, former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, implied that a few bad apples got out of control. Land asserted that while law-breaking is always bad, “there are always some of those amongst us ever ready to riot at the first whiff of disorder.” But anyone who watched the videos knows there were many, many bad apples in that bunch yesterday. (And guess what, they're still Trump supporters.)  </p> <p>But it was Sandy Rios of American Family Radio who really went <a href="https://afr.net/podcasts/sandy-rios-in-the-morning/2021/january/congress-accepts-electoral-college-count-and-clare-lopez-discusses-the-events-at-the-capitol-and-around-dc/">around the bend</a>. Listening to Rios recount the day’s events, you had to wonder what planet she was visiting Jan. 6. According to her version of events, 1.5 million people came to the D.C. event – but no media outlet is putting the number anywhere near that high. These are people, Rios said, “who love the country.” They enjoyed Trump’s “inspiring speech” and were angry over “the fraud that took place in their states.”</p> <p>According to Rios, it wasn’t the crowd that rioted but rather the media’s <em>interpretation</em> of what happened that “spun out of control.”</p> <p>Rios acknowledged that there were some Trump supporters in the crowd that stormed the Capitol but quickly added, “in their midst were members of antifa.” She claims to have seen a tweet (conveniently since deleted) that instructed people to dress up like Trump supporters and cause trouble.</p> <p>Said Rios, “I’m telling you, it was incitement. … They were dressed in black with Trump hats.” (What more evidence do you need?)</p> <p>Meanwhile, back in the real world, we all know what happened: A crazed mob of Trump supporters was whipped into a frenzy by his incendiary speech and attacked the Capitol (and, in a very real sense, American democracy) because he told them to and because they believed Trump’s drumbeat of lies, which he has issued incessantly since Nov. 3, that the election had been stolen.</p> <p>These people did not try to hide who they were: They took selfies, made videos and posted to social media even as they rampaged – and when the police collect that material and start arresting the offenders, I’m going to bet there won’t be an antifa member among them.</p> <p>Former Americans United staffer Steve Benen, now Rachel Maddow’s blogger, has handily <a href="https://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/right-s-new-conspiracy-theory-blame-left-capitol-riot-n1253250">debunked this nonsense</a>. But it’s already making the rounds on Fox News and is infiltrating social media. It’s pretty clear that “blame antifa” is going to become the white Christian nationalists’ post-truth narrative.</p> <p>This should not surprise anyone. Trump and his enablers began his administration with a litany of lies about the size of the crowd for his inauguration, and they kept the lies coming for four years. Now, at the end of Trump’s term, his supporters are ending it with one more <em>über-</em>lie about the riot they caused but would like to pin on others.   </p> <p>Nice try – but even in the waning days of Trump, facts still matter, and the truth has a way of coming out.</p> <p><em>Photo: Trump supporters converge in Washington, D.C. Screenshot via Washington Post. </em></p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Tags</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/religious-right-0" hreflang="en">Religious Right</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/donald-trump" hreflang="en">Donald Trump</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/tony-perkins" hreflang="en">Tony Perkins</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/frc-0" hreflang="en">FRC</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/sandy-rios" hreflang="en">Sandy Rios</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/richard-land" hreflang="en">richard land</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/franklin-graham" hreflang="en">Franklin Graham</a></div> </div> </div> Thu, 07 Jan 2021 18:59:29 +0000 boston 16573 at https://www.au.org In The Wake Of Yesterday’s Coup Attempt, Our Nation Needs Accountability https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/Accountability-Needed-Capitol-Coup <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">In The Wake Of Yesterday’s Coup Attempt, Our Nation Needs Accountability</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 Jan 07, 2021 - 09:49</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/Capitol%20Building%20Ominous.jpg?h=1f767aef&amp;itok=P3ZbsczA" width="1700" height="525" alt="capitol building" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>Let’s be clear about what happened in Washington, D.C., yesterday: It was an attempted <em>coup d’état</em>, an appalling end to four years of rule by a deranged demagogue whose disconnection from reality has so poisoned millions of Americans that some of them, motivated by his fever dreams of a stolen election, resorted to violence.</p> <p>There’s a lot of blame to go around, and, of course, we must put the brunt of it squarely where it belongs: on the shoulders of President Donald Trump, who prodded protestors to come to the nation’s capital for <a href="https://news.yahoo.com/trump-promises-wild-protests-washington-165055313.html">a “wild” time</a> and spoon-fed them fantasies of how they could overturn the election. The result was a calculated, violent effort to disrupt what is normally a ceremonial vote to begin a transfer of power.</p> <p>Trump will bear the judgment of history for his actions, but his enablers are not off the hook, not by a long shot. The leaders of various far-right groups, including Christian nationalist organizations, knew Trump lost the election on Nov. 3. If they had told him that, if they had reached out to President-elect Joe Biden and acknowledged his clear win, if they had challenged Trump’s stream of lies, things might have turned out differently.</p> <p>They didn’t do that. Instead, <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/january-2021-church-state-magazine/featured/welcome-to-fantasy-island-donald-trump">they poured gasoline</a> on the fires that fuel Trump’s unhinged visions. They told him that he really won. They fed his delusions. And in doing so, they betrayed democracy and enabled yesterday’s display of domestic terrorism.</p> <p>Yet they continue to pose as patriots. They continue to pose as defenders of the democracy that yesterday they tried to tear down. They continue to say that they love a country that they’ve spent weeks since Nov. 3 plotting to destroy.</p> <p>Yesterday they showed us exactly what they think of this country and its institutions. When all of this is over, there will be no going back to business as usual. Everyone who had a hand in this disgraceful chapter must be held accountable by the law, by public opinion and by the rules of simple morality.</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/christian-nationalism" hreflang="en">Christian nationalism</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/congress" hreflang="en">Congress</a></div> </div> </div> Thu, 07 Jan 2021 14:49:43 +0000 LHayes 16572 at https://www.au.org Being Violent, Misogynistic And Racist Is Nothing To Be Proud Of https://www.au.org/blogs/racists-in-DC <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Being Violent, Misogynistic And Racist Is Nothing To Be Proud Of</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 Jan 06, 2021 - 08:45</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/candles.jpg?h=aeabf24b&amp;itok=f-L9dWmq" width="1700" height="525" alt="candles" title="church candles" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>Americans United <a href="https://www.au.org/media/press-releases/Protect-Black-Churches-From-Proud-Boys">noted yesterday</a> that Black churches and other institutions in Washington, D.C., are on high alert today because of an invasion of violent white supremacists known as <a href="https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/group/proud-boys">Proud Boys</a>. They’re coming to the nation’s capital to support President Donald Trump’s latest (and doomed) effort to subvert democracy and steal an election that he plainly lost.</p> <p>As AU’s Sarah Gillooly <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/attacks-on-D.C.-churches">wrote recently</a>, “True religious freedom includes the right to worship without the threat of violence and terror. But for Black and brown Americans, the promise of religious freedom has long been rife with hypocrisy.”</p> <p>And make no mistake, violence and terror are what the Proud Boys are all about.</p> <p>When these thugs were in town last month, <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/social-issues/historic-black-churches-attacked-during-pro-trump-rallies-saturday/2020/12/13/d897bfb0-3d54-11eb-8bc0-ae155bee4aff_story.html">they attacked several Black churches</a>. In one case, they ripped a Black Lives Matter banner from Asbury United Methodist, a historic Black church in D.C., and set the sign on fire. Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio later admitted to <em>The Washington Post</em> that he was involved in the vandalism and boasted that he would gladly return to Washington if charges are filed against him.</p> <p>“I’ll fly there on my own dime,” <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/enrique-tarrio-proud-boys-black-lives-matter-sign/2020/12/18/c056c05e-415a-11eb-8db8-395dedaaa036_story.html">Tarrio told <em>The Post</em></a>. “I have nothing to hide. So let me make this simple: I did it.” Two days ago, Tarrio, who lives in Miami, flew to Washington in advance of today’s march and was <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/04/politics/proud-boys-arrest-black-lives-matter-banner/index.html">promptly arrested</a> by D.C. police under a warrant that had been issued after the December incident. At the time of his arrest, Tarrio was found to be in possession of two high-capacity firearms magazines, which are illegal in D.C. He will likely face weapons charges as well and has been ordered to stay out of Washington until a June court appearance.</p> <p>Tarrio’s arrest is a welcome development, but it’s not the only way to shut down the violent antics of his gang. Two days ago, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law <a href="http://religionclause.blogspot.com/2021/01/dc-church-sues-proud-boys-for-over.html">announced that it is suing</a> Tarrio and the Proud Boys, citing a <a href="https://code.dccouncil.us/dc/council/code/titles/22/chapters/37/">D.C. law</a> that bans bias-related crimes and a <a href="https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/248">federal law</a> that makes it illegal to intentionally damage or destroy “the property of a place of religious worship.”</p> <p>“White supremacists like the Proud Boys, would rather see the country burn than to see it united together under justice and freedom for all,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee, in a <a href="https://lawyerscommittee.org/lawsuit-filed-to-hold-proud-boys-accountable-for-racist-attack-on-historic-black-church-in-d-c/">press release</a>. “Black churches and other religious institutions have a long and ugly history of being targeted by white supremacists in racist and violent attacks meant to intimidate and create fear. Our lawsuit aims to hold those who engage in such action accountable.”  </p> <p>To be clear, any group has the right to come to Washington and peacefully demonstrate, even organizations that hold ugly views. But the extremist Proud Boys don’t do that. Their standard operating procedure is to roam cities, engaging in street brawls and committing acts of vandalism. (Despite their love of violence, the Proud Boys have the support of Trump, who has refused to denounce them. During a Sept. 29 presidential debate, <a href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2020/09/29/trump-debate-white-supremacists-stand-back-stand-by/3583339001/">Trump told members of the group</a> to “stand back and stand by.”)</p> <p>Counter-protestors have been advised to stay out of D.C. today. The police have promised to provide enhanced protection for houses of worship, and the National Guard has been mobilized. But that doesn’t mean decent people are rolling over. Religious leaders in D.C. are encouraging non-violent forms of protest and have asked other congregations to place candles in their windows as a show of solidarity.</p> <p>It’s tempting to want to stand up to the kind of hate peddled by the Proud Boys face to face on the streets, but in this case, that’s a recipe for more violence. The Lawyers’ Committee and D.C. clergy are showing us that there’s a better way: meet and defeat the forces of hate in courts of law and in the marketplace of ideas.    </p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issues field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Issues</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/religious-freedom" hreflang="en">Religious Freedom</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Tags</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/racism" hreflang="en">Racism</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/donald-trump" hreflang="en">Donald Trump</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/vandalism" hreflang="en">vandalism</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/black-lives-matter" hreflang="en">Black Lives Matter</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/christian-nationalism" hreflang="en">Christian nationalism</a></div> </div> </div> Wed, 06 Jan 2021 13:45:38 +0000 boston 16568 at https://www.au.org Christian Nationalists May Extend Our Coronavirus Misery https://www.au.org/blogs/pandemic-christian-nationalists <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Christian Nationalists May Extend Our Coronavirus Misery</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 Jan 05, 2021 - 08:39</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/vaccine%20shot%201.5.21.jpg?h=1290ba5b&amp;itok=4Y3wH5NK" width="1700" height="525" alt="shot" title="vaccine" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>The year 2020 had its share of bad news, but it ended on a bright note when several companies released vaccines to combat the coronavirus pandemic that has claimed more than 350,000 lives in the United States.</p> <p>True to form, the Trump administration has <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2020/12/30/trump-blames-states-as-he-faces-criticism-for-slow-covid-vaccine-rollout.html">bungled the initial rollout</a> of the vaccines. President Donald Trump has spent his time <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/03/us/politics/trump-raffensperger-call-georgia.html?action=click&amp;module=Top%20Stories&amp;pgtype=Homepage">threatening state election officials</a> for failing to find ways to cheat for him instead of providing anything like leadership on combating the coronavirus pandemic. We can only hope that the incoming Joe Biden/Kamala Harris administration will change course and spearhead an effective national plan for vaccine distribution.</p> <p>But as the vaccine becomes widely available, we may face another challenge in reaching herd immunity: anti-science views harbored by Christian nationalists.</p> <p>A <a href="https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/christian-nationalism-s-covid-vaccine-doubt-threatens-america-s-herd-ncna1252515">fascinating column</a> by Andrew L. Whitehead and Samuel L. Perry, co-authors of <a href="https://global.oup.com/academic/product/taking-america-back-for-god-9780190057886?cc=us&amp;lang=en&amp;"><em>Taking America Back for God: Christian Nationalism in the United States</em></a>, shows what we’re up against.</p> <p>“Americans have found all sorts of reasons to be suspicious of vaccines," the two write. “One community that appears disproportionately opposed is Christian nationalists. In fact, we find in a <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2378023120977727">new study</a> that Americans who strongly embrace Christian nationalism – close to a quarter of the population – are much more likely to question the safety of vaccines and to be misinformed about them (e.g., believing that vaccines cause autism or don’t work or that those who administer them are dishonest). If enough of these Americans resist a Covid-19 vaccine based on suspicions rooted in misinformation, the results would be disastrous for achieving herd immunity and reducing the spread of the virus.”</p> <p>Throughout the pandemic, one of the most discouraging things we’ve seen is Christian nationalist religious leaders simply refusing to be responsible. While the vast majority of America’s clergy did the right thing and either canceled in-person religious services or moved them online, several far-right pastors have either ignored public health orders designed to protect us all or fought them in court. (To be fair, they’ve had support from other faith communities, such as <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/november-2020-church-state-magazine/people-events/hasidic-groups-resist-governors">ultra-Orthodox Jews</a> and some <a href="https://dcist.com/story/20/12/14/archdiocese-washington-sue-lawsuit-dc-covid-gathering-restrictions-church/">Roman Catholic leaders</a>.)</p> <p>Some Christian nationalists have gone out of their way to endanger communities. Among them are Sean Feucht, an evangelical singer, and former child actor Kirk Cameron, both of whom have been hosting large public events despite stay-at-home orders.</p> <p>As the <em>Los Angeles Times</em> <a href="https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-01-01/sean-feucht-kirk-cameron-gatherings-new-years-eve">reported</a> about one Feucht event, “Despite the risks of spreading the coronavirus amid a deadly surge in the pandemic, people could be seen standing shoulder to shoulder while jumping, singing and shouting in a video posted by Feucht’s Instagram account. Most in the crowd did not wear face coverings.”</p> <p>As part of their study, Whitehead and Perry surveyed a sample of people nationwide to gauge their attitudes toward vaccines. They also asked several questions to determine participants’ level of support for Christian nationalist ideology and then cross-tabulated the results.</p> <p>What they found is disturbing: “Americans who agreed with the various measures of Christian nationalism were much more likely to espouse anti-vaccine attitudes, even after controlling for other influences, such as political party, political ideology, religiosity, race or even education.”</p> <p>As we’ve noted in <em>Church &amp; State</em> and on this blog, Christian nationalists have <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/may-2020-church-state-magazine/featured/outbreak-of-nonsense-christian-nationalists-at">waged war against reality</a> since the pandemic erupted. They’ve denied its severity, resisted common-sense recommendations such as mask-wearing, embraced magical thinking and spread conspiracy theories.</p> <p>We’ve now reached the first sign of real hope – the creation of effective vaccines – and Christian nationalists seemed poised to stand in the way of progress yet again.</p> <p>P.S. <a href="https://www.au.org/tags/protecting-religious-freedom-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic">AU has been working to oppose the machinations</a> of Christian nationalists in courts, in legislative chambers and in the arena of public opinion. <a href="https://www.au.org/become-a-member">Your support</a> will help us continue this important work. </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/protecting-religious-freedom-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic" hreflang="en">Protecting Religious Freedom During the Coronavirus Pandemic</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/religious-right-0" hreflang="en">Religious Right</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/joe-biden" hreflang="en">Joe Biden</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/donald-trump" hreflang="en">Donald Trump</a></div> </div> </div> Tue, 05 Jan 2021 13:39:32 +0000 boston 16567 at https://www.au.org New Year, New Administration, New Strategies: Americans United Is Ready For 2021 https://www.au.org/blogs/happy-new-year-21 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">New Year, New Administration, New Strategies: Americans United Is Ready For 2021</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 Jan 04, 2021 - 08:49</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/about/people/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/new%20year%2021%20goals.jpg?h=b4092066&amp;itok=Nt_o7fZI" width="1700" height="525" alt="New Year " title="New Year 2021" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p><em>Editor’s note: This post by AU President and CEO Rachel Laser originally appeared in the <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/january-2021-church-state-magazine">January 2021 issue</a> of AU’s </em>Church &amp; State<em> magazine.</em></p> <p>Happy New Year!</p> <p>Those words have never rung more true than this year, as we finally say goodbye to 2020 and welcome a new year of promising coronavirus vaccines and a president who is much friendlier to our cause. There is much to celebrate.</p> <p>At the same time, AU has some new puzzles to solve to maximize our chances of this new administration acting on the 10-point religious freedom agenda we have offered it.</p> <p>There are some basic questions, and then there are more challenging tasks, such as reassuring the adminis­tration that embracing the separation of religion and government does not feed into any perceived religion problem. Let me explain.</p> <p> No matter what Democrats do, they are labeled by conservatives as being anti-religion. Take, for example, Georgia senatorial candidate the Rev. Raphael Warnock – the pastor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s former church, whom conservatives attacked as anti-Christian based on his pro-choice values and progressive stances on issues.</p> <p>Democrats always face this unfair label because con­servatives, many of whom disguise their regressive social goals in religious garb, claim religion as theirs and de­cry progressives’ criticism of their policies as “anti-reli­gi­on.”</p> <p>Hence, it is not unusual to find Democrats demon­stra­ting their “faith-friendliness” by responding with <em>conser­vatives’</em> definition of what’s “pro-religion” – which too of­ten means compromising on church-state separation. We saw this, for example, when President Barack Obama left in place Bush-era policies allowing faith-based recipients of federal grants and contracts to hire employees based on religion, thus continuing taxpayer-funded discrimin­ation.</p> <p>President-elect Joe Biden has a good record on church-state separation and has already committed to reversing some of the problematic policies Trump has adopted. But we want to make sure that his administration does not pivot to religious exemptions when they feel on the defen­sive on religious issues.</p> <p>AU’s challenge – and opportunity – is to show the Biden-Harris administration that it can win the support of Christians, religious minorities and the nonreligious alike by supporting, instead of undermining, the separa­tion of religion and government. Connecting not just with Christians, but also with the nonreligious and religious minorities should matter to this administration; these last two groups’ rights and freedom are equally important – also together they were crucial to Biden’s victory.</p> <p>In fact, advancing church-state separation is the perfect way to build unity in our country. That’s because most Americans understand that keeping religion and govern­ment separate is the only way to secure freedom of con­science for all of us. Whether you are deeply religious, deeply nonreligious or somewhere in between, the major­ity of us value living in a country where the government cannot impose any set of religious views on us, and where our religious institu­tions stay free of government influence.</p> <p> We know our issue is a great way for the Biden admin­istration to address religious concerns and win broad support, but we also realize that AU has to be able to dem­onstrate this popularity in numbers. A national poll we did last year made clear that Americans across all religious demographics are considerably more, rather than less, likely to support a candidate who is for church-state sep­aration. We’re now undertaking more polling. It will guide us as we hone our messages, including how best to combat conservatives’ claims that “religious freedom” means a right to discriminate. It will also continue to uncover the positive values that inspire Americans to support our cause. AU will be able to offer the new administration valu­able data and insights from this research soon.</p> <p>We also know that we need a cadre of faith leaders who, alongside secular leaders, can support our issue and vali­date any positive actions this administration takes on church-state separation. AU already has a robust list of over 1,000 clergy from across the country whom we will continue to activate. I’m excited to announce that we are also on the verge of rolling out our first-ever national Faith Advisory Council. This Council of a dozen prominent and diverse faith leaders will use their extensive networks to garner greater faith support for our issue, and they will use their platforms to be key spokespeople to the press.</p> <p>With this new year in parti­cu­lar, AU has an opportunity to move the country toward our vision where every person is free to practice their faith or no faith, as long as they don’t harm others. Let me reassure you, we are not only up to the task, we are eager to dive in</p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issues field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Issues</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/religious-freedom" hreflang="en">Religious Freedom</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Tags</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/joe-biden" hreflang="en">Joe Biden</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/donald-trump" hreflang="en">Donald Trump</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/martin-luther-king-jr" hreflang="en">Martin Luther King Jr.</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/georgia" hreflang="en">Georgia</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/faith-based-initiative" hreflang="en">faith-based initiative</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/barack-obama" hreflang="en">Barack Obama</a></div> </div> </div> Mon, 04 Jan 2021 13:49:30 +0000 boston 16564 at https://www.au.org