The Wall of Separation Blog https://www.au.org/ en Florida Public School Moment Of Silence Law Doesn’t Advance Religious Freedom https://www.au.org/blogs/Florida-Moment-Silence <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Florida Public School Moment Of Silence Law Doesn’t Advance Religious Freedom</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/69587" lang="" about="/user/69587" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">LHayes</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Wed Jun 16, 2021 - 09:23</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/School%20kids%20praying.jpg?h=119335f7&amp;itok=QemrwtNU" width="1700" height="525" alt="School kids praying" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed a bill June 14 that requires all public schools in the state to sponsor a one-minute moment of silence. It’s a completely unnecessary measure.</p> <p>Florida already had a law allowing for moments of silence, but the new law makes them mandatory. The old law was also unnecessary. Moment-of-silence laws exist in several states, and they are almost always about currying favor with religious voters, not protecting students’ rights.</p> <p>Despite what Christian nationalists believe, truly voluntary prayer has never been removed from public schools. In 1962 and ’63,<a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/march-2020-church-state/featured/the-voluntary-principle-the-us-supreme-court-had-made"> </a><a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/march-2020-church-state/featured/the-voluntary-principle-the-us-supreme-court-had-made">the Supreme Court struck down</a> laws that compelled or pressured students to take part in prayer and Bible reading. (The law that was struck down in 1962’s <em>Engel v. Vitale</em> would have allowed public schools to sponsor a so-called “non-denominational” prayer written by a government committee.) Those rulings left voluntary prayer by students intact. Furthermore, students can pray at the beginning of the day, over lunch, before they take a test or whenever they feel the need as long as they don’t disrupt others. They don’t need to confine themselves to a ritualized 60 seconds of silence at the start of the day.</p> <p>Formalizing a minute of silence in public schools, especially in the Bible Belt, usually has more to do with politics than religion. That appears to be the case here as well. The<a href="https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory/fla-governor-signs-bill-requiring-moment-school-prayer-78274980"> </a><a href="https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory/fla-governor-signs-bill-requiring-moment-school-prayer-78274980">Associated Press reported</a> that DeSantis signed the bill at an orthodox synagogue in the city of Surfside and that the ceremony had the “air of a campaign event.” Rabbi Sholom Lipskar of The Shul of Bal Harbour introduced DeSantis as a “great governor and future world leader.” (DeSantis is running for reelection next year, and there has been speculation that he might seek the presidency in 2024.)</p> <p>While the bill was considered in the legislature, lawmakers claimed it was just to give students a chance to stop and reflect. But during the signing, DeSantis remarked, “It’s something that’s important to be able to provide each student the ability, every day, to be able to reflect and to be able to pray as they see fit. The idea that you can just push God out of every institution, and be successful – I’m sorry, our Founding Fathers did not believe that.”</p> <p>No one is pushing God out of our institutions. What Americans United and others work for is ending government-sponsored force and pressure in matters of religion. DeSantis invoked the Founding Fathers, but he fails to understand what they believed: They were dead set against allowing the government to use its powers to compel anyone to take part in or support religion against his or her will.</p> <p>Americans United will continue to ensure that our public schools welcome students of all faiths and those who are non-religious. We can best do that by keeping the schools focused on teaching, not preaching.</p> <p>P.S. To learn more about the issue of prayer in public schools, see this<a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/march-2020-church-state"> </a><a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/march-2020-church-state">special issue</a> of AU’s <em>Church &amp; State</em> magazine.</p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issues field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Issues</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/schools" hreflang="en">Schools</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/school-sponsored-prayer" hreflang="en">School-Sponsored 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/florida" hreflang="en">Florida</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/moment-silence" hreflang="en">Moment of Silence</a></div> </div> </div> Wed, 16 Jun 2021 13:23:07 +0000 LHayes 16862 at https://www.au.org Conservative Evangelicals’ Embrace Of Conspiracy Theories Threatens Democracy https://www.au.org/blogs/evangelical-conspiracy-theories <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Conservative Evangelicals’ Embrace Of Conspiracy Theories Threatens Democracy</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 Jun 15, 2021 - 09:15</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/about/people/rob-boston" hreflang="und">Rob Boston</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image"> <label>Image</label> <div class="item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/banner/public/images/blog_post/Qanon%20Anthony%20Crider%20via%20flickr.jpg?h=2026e697&amp;itok=GQ35X9YP" width="1700" height="525" alt="QAnon" title="QAnon advocates " typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>A few weeks ago, Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) <a href="https://www.prri.org/research/qanon-conspiracy-american-politics-report/">released a report</a> noting that a quarter of white evangelical Protestants in America accept the major beliefs of the QAnon conspiracy theory.</p> <p>In case you’ve forgotten, QAnon, which began to gain traction online during the presidency of Donald Trump, holds that a ring of satanic pedophiles who are highly placed in government and the entertainment industry worked to undermine Trump because he planned to expose their trafficking of children. Its adherents believe that these pedophiles will be purged from public life, and some even insist that Trump will be “restored” to the White House in August.</p> <p>Ridiculous, right? Yep – yet tens of millions of Americans believe it. And some are moved to action: QAnon followers were among the insurrectionists who assaulted the U.S. Capitol Jan. 6.</p> <p>That’s troubling enough, but now <a href="https://www.baylor.edu/mediacommunications/news.php?action=story&amp;story=223733">another study</a> has been released about fundamentalists and conspiracy theories, and its findings are equally disturbing. Researchers at Baylor University found that biblical literalists, people who self-identify as “very religious” and those who attend church weekly are significantly more likely to believe in other conspiracy theories as well. Not only do they swallow the QAnon “Democrats-are-sex-traffickers-line,” they also believe that the 2020 election was fraudulent and that the COVID-19 vaccinations aren’t safe.  </p> <p>Paul Froese, Ph.D., director of the Baylor Religion Surveys and professor of sociology, said in a press statement, “The intersection of religion and politics makes the discrete religion effect on conspiratorial thinking hard to concisely determine, and we must note that there are lots of different types and expressions of religiosity. While Americans who most strongly assert their personal religiosity are, on average, more likely to believe these falsehoods, they still remain a minority of religious Americans overall.”</p> <p>That’s a bit of a cold comfort. Yes, these people are a minority, but they hold increasingly radicalized beliefs; some are open to violence. In the PRRI study, 15% of respondents overall backed the idea that violence may be necessary to save the country. That’s millions of people. Remember, on Jan. 6  it only took a mob numbering in the thousands whipped into a frenzy by a demagogue to overrun the Capitol, assault police and do at least <a href="https://www.npr.org/sections/insurrection-at-the-capitol/2021/02/24/970977612/architect-of-the-capitol-outlines-30-million-in-damages-from-pro-trump-riot">$30 million in damage</a>.</p> <p>Conspiracy theories have hurt America in other ways. COVID deniers fought in court to keep houses of worship open during the lockdowns, unfortunately winning a sympathetic ear at the Supreme Court. Vaccine skeptics are denying the country herd immunity and scaring people away from shots while spreading <a href="https://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/558144-woman-fails-to-prove-the-covid-19-vaccine-made-her-magnetic-during-ohio">all manner of nonsense</a>. Debunked conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election helped fuel voter suppression laws in several states. QAnon has <a href="https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/their-loved-ones-are-obsessed-with-qanon-conspiracies-its-tearing-their-families-apart">torn families apart</a>. It remains a festering sore on our body politic. QAnon’s leading proponent in Congress, U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), is a disruptive influence whose antics might be amusing if so many people didn’t take them seriously.</p> <p>There’s a sense among some political commentators that American democracy <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/jun/05/american-democracy-threat-republicans-donald-trump-voter-suppression">stands on a precipice</a>. Beyond the GOP-led assault on voting rights, we face a growing concern that democracy can’t function in a nation where so many people push facts aside in favor of nonsense that feeds their biases. Much to their shame, far-right evangelicals are forging the path that may take us over the cliff.</p> <p><em>(Photo by Anthony Crider via Creative Commons)</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/evangelical-christianity" hreflang="en">Evangelical Christianity</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/public-religion-research-prri" hreflang="en">Public Religion Research (PRRI)</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/religious-right-0" hreflang="en">Religious Right</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/donald-trump" hreflang="en">Donald Trump</a></div> </div> </div> Tue, 15 Jun 2021 13:15:13 +0000 boston 16861 at https://www.au.org It’s Time To Get Rid Of All The Bigotry In Tennessee’s Constitution https://www.au.org/blogs/Tenn-Constitution-change <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">It’s Time To Get Rid Of All The Bigotry In Tennessee’s Constitution</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/95" lang="" about="/user/95" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">boston</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Mon Jun 14, 2021 - 09:15</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/about/people/rob-boston" hreflang="und">Rob Boston</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image"> <label>Image</label> <div class="item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/banner/public/images/blog_post/voting%20line.jpg?h=119335f7&amp;itok=1VhjfY12" width="1700" height="525" alt="voting line" title="waiting to vote " typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>Tennessee’s constitution contains a provision banning public office to three classes of people: ministers, atheists and anyone who has fought in a duel or helped arrange one.</p> <p>The provision, found in <a href="https://www.capitol.tn.gov/about/docs/TN-Constitution.pdf">Article IX of the state’s constitution</a>, dates to 1796 and is clearly antiquated. In fact, the bans on atheists and ministers can’t be enforced, having been nullified by U.S. Supreme Court decisions in <a href="https://www.oyez.org/cases/1960/373">1961</a> and <a href="https://www.oyez.org/cases/1977/76-1427">1978</a> respectively. (Would-be duelists have apparently never tested the third section.) Now a legislator in Tennessee has proposed officially removing the section on ministers – but that’s all. Under a proposal put forth by state Sen. Mark Pody (R-Lebanon), the other two provisions would remain intact.</p> <p>Pody points out that even though the language banning ministers from serving in the legislature can’t be enforced, it’s evidence of past bigotry and ought to go. He’s right about that – but the same thing could be said about the ban on atheists. So why not ditch it as well?</p> <p>That question came up during the debate over Pody’s proposal. “If we’re going to do that, should we just clean up everything that’s currently in the Tennessee Constitution?” asked Senate Minority Leader Jeff Yarbro (D-Nashville). “We have numerous provisions that can be deleted. Seems like that would be a more sensible way of doing it and putting it on one resolution.”</p> <p>Pody’s reply was rather weak. He said he prefers to make changes <a href="https://friendlyatheist.patheos.com/2021/04/07/tn-gop-will-fix-statewide-ban-on-priests-in-government-but-atheist-ban-remains/">“one simple step at a time.”</a></p> <p>A more likely scenario is that Pody, who frequently promotes Christian nationalist ideas in the Tennessee legislature, doesn’t want to be seen as going to bat for atheists. But to leave the anti-atheist language in, even if it can’t be enforced, while repealing the ban for religious leaders, only serves to reinforce the idea that the state doesn’t care about the rights of non-religious people.</p> <p>Andrew L. Seidel, director of strategic response at the Freedom From Religion Foundation, put it well in <a href="https://www.tennessean.com/story/opinion/2021/06/08/tennessee-should-end-religious-tests-public-office-impartially/5270885001/">a recent column</a> in the Nashville <em>Tennessean</em>.</p> <p>“It’s great that Tennessee is attempting to fix its Constitution, but it must do so objectively,” Seidel wrote. “Pody claims to be erasing relics of invidious discrimination, but he’s discriminating while doing so. He wants to erase the text that discriminates against ministers but leave the text that treats atheists as second-class citizens.”</p> <p>Bingo. Since all three disqualifications are found in Article IX of the Tennessee Constitution, the obvious answer is to ask voters to repeal the entire article. Removing the section that bans ministers while leaving the ban on atheists in place only serves to perpetuate the bigotry Pody claims to oppose.</p> <p>P.S. <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/april-2020-church-state-magazine/featured/prejudiced-provisions-what-eight-state">Several other states</a> retain antiquated provisions barring atheists from holding public office in their constitutions. It’s time for all of them to go.</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/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/tennessee" hreflang="en">Tennessee</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/voting-and-religion" hreflang="en">voting and religion</a></div> </div> </div> Mon, 14 Jun 2021 13:15:38 +0000 boston 16860 at https://www.au.org There’s No Contradiction: Religious Leaders Celebrate The Colors Of Pride https://www.au.org/blogs/clergy-celebrate-pride <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">There’s No Contradiction: Religious Leaders Celebrate The Colors Of Pride</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 Jun 10, 2021 - 09:22</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/about/people/sabrina-e-dent-dmin" hreflang="en">Sabrina E. Dent, DMin</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/woman%20with%20lgbtq%20flag%20.jpg?h=9c33a359&amp;itok=bAZ3CBDd" width="1700" height="525" alt="woman with LGBTQ flag" title="woman with LGBTQ flag " typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, June continues to be a significant month for commemorating observances in American culture. For many people, this includes Juneteenth and Pride Month. Both are two distinctive celebrations signifying freedom and the declaration of joy in one’s identity and full existence in society. The origins of these celebrations stem from different events and experiences of marginalized groups in this country (which should never be compared). However, one cannot deny the connection of the struggle for human rights tied to these landmark events observed in June.</p> <p>Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, is an annual celebration that marks the emancipation of Blacks from slavery in the United States. It was on June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, to announce that President Abraham Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862, declaring the freedom of all enslaved people. Although this executive order was not issued until January 1, 1863, Juneteenth remains a symbolic day in American history as a catalyst to affirming the liberation of Black people.</p> <p>At the same time, June is recognized as Pride Month, a yearly celebration that was established to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall riots that took place in New York’s Greenwich Village. This uprising was a series of demonstrations that occurred after police raided the Stonewall Inn, a bar that provided a safe haven for gay patrons. It was illegal to provide such protections during this time. Since 1970, Pride gatherings for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) communities embody public acceptance and honor the strides in this movement toward equality. Progress has occurred, but much more advocacy needs to be prioritized to secure the civil and human rights of all people in this country.</p> <p>Religious leaders continue to play a critical role in raising awareness about many social justice issues that impact marginalized people. This year, Americans United has joined a coalition of advocacy and faith-based community partners to co-sponsor “<a href="https://www.equalitytime.org/cop-join.html">The Colors of Pride</a>,” a week of activities that will bring together faith leaders and their congregations in support of LGBTQ equality. The Colors of Pride Week of Action (June 11-19) will provide opportunities for allyship between and within the queer community, Black and Brown communities, and congregations. Activities will focus on the intersectionality of queerness, racial justice and religious identity. These events include a virtual Juneteenth celebration honoring the resilience of African Americans as well as advocacy actions prioritizing trans women of color and voting rights. </p> <p>A <a href="https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/publications/lgbt-religiosity-us/">report published by the UCLA Williams Institute</a> found that 5.3 million LGBTQ adults are religious. Of the 1.2 million Black LBGTQ adults living in the United States, 71% identified as religious.</p> <p>This is significant in remembering the legacies of <a href="https://www.biography.com/activist/marsha-p-johnson?li_source=LI&amp;li_medium=m2m-rcw-history">Marsha P. Johnson</a> and <a href="https://www.pbs.org/wnet/african-americans-many-rivers-to-cross/history/100-amazing-facts/who-designed-the-march-on-washington/">Bayard Rustin</a>. Both were African American activists, people of faith, and members of the LGBTQ community who fought tirelessly to advance human and civil rights in a society that sometimes shunned their Blackness and queerness. Johnson was a transgender Black woman credited for being an instigator of the Stonewall riots. She was an outspoken advocate for LGBTQ people and especially trans women of color despite the challenges that she faced, including homelessness. Rustin, a Quaker, was an influential leader during the civil rights movement who served as an adviser to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and was the main organizer for the 1963 March on Washington. Unfortunately, the taboo associated with his sexual identity as a Black gay man during that era resulted in Rustin taking a less visible role in the movement.</p> <p>Yet, Americans United is honored to work alongside <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/june-2021-church-state-magazine/featured/keeping-the-faithful-americans-united-unveils">Faith Advisory Council</a> members like Rev. Naomi Washington-Leapheart who offered affirming words last week during the Samuel DeWitt <a href="https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?v=1165637727242280&amp;ref=search">Proctor Conference’s Pride Prayerdemic Facebook live event</a>. Wearing a black T-shirt with the words “My Black Wife Makes Me Smile,” she offered an empowering prayer by saying, “God, thank you for making me Black and Queer … Thank you for allowing your imagination to run deep for molding us and shaping us in our blackness and queerness.” Toward the end, she said, “Push us <em>all</em> to Black freedom.” These affirming words resonated with the viewers as endless hearts and likes filled the chat. It served as a reminder for many that there is no contradiction in proclaiming one’s sexual identity or faith – both can, will, and do coexist – even in a world that creates a false narrative about LGBTQ people of faith.</p> <p>Over the next month, more Faith Advisory Council members like Circle Sanctuary’s the Rev. Selena Fox will continue raising their voices in support of LGBTQ equality and racial justice. We are encouraging our <a href="https://www.au.org/get-involved/religious-outreach">Faith Leaders United</a> members to join us in participating in the Colors of Pride Week of Action by showing their support for the <a href="https://www.au.org/tags/equality-act">Equality Act</a>, racial and religious minorities of color, and LGBTQ people who are often discriminated against in areas of housing, education, health care and many more.  <a href="https://www.equalitytime.org/cop-join.html">Click here to sign up for any of the week’s activities!</a></p> <p>In the words of AU friend and Hindu leader Dr. Murali Balaji, “Being an ally means more than just putting up social media symbols and sharing hashtags. It means doing the work of empathy-based action, to ensure our LGBTQI+ family members know we will join them in causing ‘good trouble’ for equality. Most importantly, we need to be there for queer and trans community members of color who need our support as they practice self-care and resilience in the face of homophobia, transphobia, and racism.”</p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issues field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Issues</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/lgbtq-rights" hreflang="en">LGBTQ Rights</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/discrimination-in-the-name-of-religion" hreflang="en">Discrimination In The Name of Religion</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Tags</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/pride-month" hreflang="en">Pride Month</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/equality-act" hreflang="en">Equality Act</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/racial-justice-and-religious-freedom" hreflang="en">Racial Justice and Religious Freedom</a></div> </div> </div> Thu, 10 Jun 2021 13:22:06 +0000 boston 16859 at https://www.au.org During Pride Month, Commit To Supporting Transgender Rights https://www.au.org/blogs/support-trans-rights <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">During Pride Month, Commit To Supporting Transgender Rights</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 Jun 09, 2021 - 09:22</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/trans%20flag%20.jpg?h=119335f7&amp;itok=dxCaj0O1" width="1700" height="525" alt="trans flag" title="trans flag " typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>President Joe Biden has taken welcome steps to roll back mean-spirited policies promulgated by the Trump administration that targeted members of the LGBTQ community, especially transgender Americans.</p> <p>Biden <a href="https://apnews.com/article/biden-reverse-ban-transgender-military-f0ace4f9866e0ca0df021eba75b3af20">reversed</a> Trump’s ill-considered ban on trans troops in the military and <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/HHS-trans-policy">ditched</a> other Trump policies that negatively affected LGBTQ people, often under the false guise of “religious freedom.” Biden also spoke directly to trans people during his April 28 joint address to Congress, <a href="https://news.yahoo.com/biden-tells-transgender-americans-your-president-has-your-back-023259977.html">remarking</a>, “To all the transgender Americans watching at home, especially the young people who are so brave, I want you to know that your president has your back.”</p> <p>It’s a refreshing change of tone in Washington, D.C., but it’s just a start. Many of the changes Biden has made are through executive orders, which can be reversed by a future president. We need passage of legislation like the <a href="https://www.au.org/tags/equality-act">Equality Act</a> and the <a href="https://www.au.org/tags/do-no-harm-act">Do No Harm Act</a> to provide a uniform guarantee of rights for LGTBQ people from coast to coast.</p> <p>It’s also important that Americans who support LGBTQ equality understand what we’re up against. Yes, cultural attitudes have changed markedly, and most Americans now support equality. That only infuriates Christian nationalists even more. Having lost the battle over marriage equality, they’ve shifted tactics and are targeting trans rights, which they’re attacking in several state legislatures. Anti-trans bills have passed in a number of states, <a href="https://www.advocate.com/transgender/2021/6/01/florida-gov-ron-desantis-signs-anti-trans-bill-time-pride">most recently in Florida</a>. At the same time, the legal arm of Christian nationalism is working to <a href="https://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/byron-tanner-cross-reinstated-transgender-pronouns-virginia/2695040/">undermine trans rights in the courts</a>.</p> <p>During this Pride Month, get a handle on what’s going on nationwide by reading <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/june-2021-church-state-magazine/cover-story/transparently-cruel-how-transgender-rights">this story</a> by Emily Starbuck Gerson in the June <em>Church &amp; State</em>. Visit the website of our allies at the <a href="https://transequality.org/">National Center for Transgender Equality</a>. Arm yourself with the facts to debunk Christian nationalists’ anti-trans hate.</p> <p>Twenty years ago, few would have thought we would have made the great strides we have in safeguarding LGBTQ equality. But there is still much work to do, and it’s important that the trans community not be left behind. <a href="https://www.au.org/become-a-member">Join Americans United</a>, and help us keep moving everyone forward.</p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issues field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Issues</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/lgbtq-rights" hreflang="en">LGBTQ Rights</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/discrimination-in-the-name-of-religion" hreflang="en">Discrimination In The Name of Religion</a></div> </div> </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/national-center-for-transgender-equality" hreflang="en">National Center for Transgender Equality</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/religious-right-0" hreflang="en">Religious Right</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/equality-act" hreflang="en">Equality Act</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/do-no-harm-act" hreflang="en">Do No Harm Act</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/florida" hreflang="en">Florida</a></div> </div> </div> Wed, 09 Jun 2021 13:22:04 +0000 boston 16858 at https://www.au.org Six Years Later, We Can Learn Some Lessons From The Fight Over Marriage Equality https://www.au.org/blogs/lessons-from-marriage-equality <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Six Years Later, We Can Learn Some Lessons From The Fight Over Marriage Equality</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 Jun 08, 2021 - 09:11</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/about/people/rob-boston" hreflang="und">Rob Boston</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image"> <label>Image</label> <div class="item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/banner/public/images/blog_post/marriage%20equality%20.jpg?h=35021be5&amp;itok=ra-AivhZ" width="1700" height="525" alt="marriage" title="marriage" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>The Supreme Court ruling in <a href="https://www.oyez.org/cases/2014/14-556"><em>Obergefell v. Hodges</em></a> that had the effect of legalizing marriage equality nationwide is now almost six years old. Christian nationalists were certain that this decision would spark massive resistance and other things, <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/four-years-later-the-religious-rights-hysterics-over-marriage-equality">none of which happened</a>. In fact, the American people have accepted marriage equality.</p> <p>How did this happen? Writing in <em>The Washington Post</em> recently, <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/why-the-battle-for-gay-marriage-was-won-so-easily/2021/06/03/b63d3d62-c47e-11eb-93f5-ee9558eecf4b_story.html">journalist Sasha Isenberg posits</a> that, despite the claims of Christian nationalists, marriage equality didn’t threaten anyone’s rights – and Americans could see that.</p> <p>To be sure, Christian nationalists tried to make the argument that marriage equality was a threat, but it was unpersuasive. They made vague claims that somehow allowing men and women to marry same-sex partners would harm children. Courts didn’t buy it.</p> <p>Christian nationalists also asserted that members of the clergy would be compelled to preside at same-sex ceremonies, a ridiculous claim that the American people had no trouble seeing right through. It simply hasn’t happened, and it can’t – not as long as we have the First Amendment.</p> <p>Isenberg notes that once marriage equality gained a foothold in Massachusetts in 2004 after a state court ruling, people quickly saw that the “sky is falling” claims of Christian nationalists never materialized. As Isenberg writes, “even the most cynical observers of events in Massachusetts and the states that followed its lead could not point to any societal decay that gay marriage brought.”</p> <p>Six years after the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling, marriage equality is widely accepted and has faded into the background. A few Christian nationalist groups are still making noise about it, but most Americans have moved on.</p> <p>That’s the good news. The bad news is that Christian nationalists have learned there’s power in portraying themselves as victims. As Isenberg notes, a new flock of cases are anchored in religious freedom claims. A Colorado baker who refused to make wedding cakes for same-sex couples <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/the-supreme-courts-masterpiece-cakeshop-ruling-what-really-happened">got a sympathetic hearing</a> at the high court, and the conservative bloc of justices <a href="https://religionnews.com/2021/05/28/the-fulton-supreme-court-decision-could-increase-discrimination-against-religious-minorities/">may soon rule</a> that officials in Philadelphia can’t stop contracting with a Catholic foster care agency even though it won’t work with LGBTQ people, a violation of its contract with the city.</p> <p>During the fight over marriage equality, the stories of same-sex couples who were denied the legal right to love and care for one another tugged at Americans’ hearts and challenged their consciences.</p> <p>Our job today – which we’ll be able to do thanks to <a href="https://www.au.org/become-a-member">your support</a> – is to lift up the experiences of people who suffer real harm because of religion-based discrimination so that Americans understand what’s at stake. Perhaps then, they won’t swallow Christian nationalists’ misguided claims of victimization and put the sympathy where it belongs: with the people who, because of religious bias, have been denied services in secular businesses and tax-funded agencies.</p> <p> </p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issues field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Issues</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/lgbtq-rights" hreflang="en">LGBTQ Rights</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/marriage-equality" hreflang="en">Marriage Equality</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/discrimination-by-public-officials" hreflang="en">Discrimination by Public Officials</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/religious-right-0" hreflang="en">Religious Right</a></div> </div> </div> Tue, 08 Jun 2021 13:11:26 +0000 boston 16857 at https://www.au.org Americans United Celebrates Pride By Standing Against Religious Extremists https://www.au.org/blogs/AU-supports-pride <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Americans United Celebrates Pride By Standing Against Religious Extremists</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 Jun 07, 2021 - 10:37</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/about/people/rob-boston" hreflang="und">Rob Boston</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image"> <label>Image</label> <div class="item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/banner/public/images/blog_post/pride%20photo%20.jpg?h=119335f7&amp;itok=tTvqpC_c" width="1700" height="525" alt="pride" title="pride celebration " typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>If this were a normal year, Americans United staff members would be making plans to attend Capital Pride, the annual festival celebrating LGBTQ rights in the nation’s capital. For years Americans United has sponsored a table at the event, where we distribute information about our work (as well as AU-themed swag), talk with attendees and answer questions.</p> <p>Alas, this isn’t a normal year – not yet, anyway. While people are starting to reemerge from the pandemic, the lifting of restrictions didn’t happen soon enough to hold all of the in-person Pride festivities in D.C. this year. We look forward to seeing everyone in 2022!</p> <p>LGBTQ equality has made a lot of progress in recent years. Support for non-discrimination laws, marriage equality and other LGBTQ-friendly policies are at an all-time high. But we know there’s still a lot of work to do. Christian nationalist organizations remain a powerful political presence in Congress and in state legislatures, and they’re doing all they can to block LGBTQ rights.</p> <p>With that thought in mind, here are some important steps we need to take to ensure that LGBTQ Americans have the full measure of rights:</p> <p><strong><em>Support the Equality Act. </em></strong>Currently, LGBTQ Americans are subject to a patchwork of state and local laws. Some places provide a lot of protection, others provide none. We simply can’t have a system where a person’s rights vacillate wildly as he or she crosses state borders. It’s time to pass the <a href="https://www.au.org/tags/equality-act">Equality Act</a>, federal legislation that would provide clear, consistent protections for LGBTQ Americans (as well as for women, people of color and others) in key areas, such as employment, housing, credit, education, public spaces and services, federally funded programs and jury service. The act would also ensure that religious freedom is not misused to create loopholes to undermine these protections.</p> <p><strong><em>Support the Do No Harm Act. </em></strong>The <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/DNHA-real-harm">Do No Harm Act</a> would amend a 1993 federal law called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) to make it clear that assertions of religious freedom can’t be used to take away the rights of others or do them harm. For LGBTQ people, the ramifications could be far-reaching. The Do No Harm Act would protect them from discrimination and denials of services by both government agencies and private entities.</p> <p><strong><em>Oppose attacks on transgender rights.</em></strong> Transgender rights have become Christian nationalists’ <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/june-2021-church-state-magazine/cover-story/transparently-cruel-how-transgender-rights">new front in the culture wars</a>. Across the country, a slew of bills is being considered that would roll back the rights of transgender Americans in public education and other settings. (Some have already become law.) Other bills would protect cruel fundamentalists who mis-gender trans people and refuse to respect their rights and indeed their very identities. In addition to pushing bills, Christian nationalist legal groups are attacking trans rights in court. AU and its allies have been heartened to see the Biden administration lift discriminatory anti-trans policies, such as the ban on trans troops in the military, but there’s more to be done.</p> <p><strong><em>Be a good ally by opposing hate. </em></strong>Even as support for LGBTQ rights hits new highs, religious extremists continue to spew hate. Part of this is defensive; these groups know they’re on the losing side of history. The culture has moved beyond their narrow views – but they don’t intend to go down quietly. By exposing the hateful views of Christian nationalists, which AU does regularly on this blog and in the pages of <em>Church &amp; State</em>, we aim to help even more Americans understand the threat of religious extremism and equip them with the tools to fight it.  </p> <p>Americans United’s work has helped bring us closer to our country’s ideals of freedom and equality for everyone, where all are welcome and respected and religious extremists have no power to relegate some people to second-class citizenship because of who they are or who they love.</p> <p>That is our vision. We are proud of it. We work toward it every day. <a href="https://www.au.org/get-involved/donate/form">Your support</a> helps us bring it to life.</p> <p> </p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issues field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Issues</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/lgbtq-rights" hreflang="en">LGBTQ Rights</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/discrimination-in-the-name-of-religion" hreflang="en">Discrimination In The Name of Religion</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Tags</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/civil-marriage" hreflang="en">civil marriage</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/do-no-harm-act" hreflang="en">Do No Harm Act</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/equality-act" hreflang="en">Equality Act</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/religious-right-0" hreflang="en">Religious Right</a></div> </div> </div> Mon, 07 Jun 2021 14:37:37 +0000 boston 16856 at https://www.au.org White House Adviser’s Oath A Reminder: No One Has To Swear An Oath Of Office On A Bible https://www.au.org/blogs/science-adviser-oath <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">White House Adviser’s Oath A Reminder: No One Has To Swear An Oath Of Office On A Bible</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 Jun 03, 2021 - 10:04</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/oath%202%20.jpg?h=119335f7&amp;itok=L852nvpq" width="1700" height="525" alt="oath" title="swearing oath" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>Eric Lander, the new director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, was sworn in yesterday. <a href="https://www.jta.org/quick-reads/white-house-science-advisor-eric-lander-sworn-in-on-pirkei-avot-published-in-1492">He took the Oath of Office</a> on a 529-year-old copy of the ancient Jewish text Pirkei Avot, courtesy of the Library of Congress.</p> <p>Public officials who choose to take oaths of office on texts other than the Bible often <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/february-2007-church-state/editorial/rep-ellison-s-oath-on-jefferson-s-quran">spark Christian nationalist outrage</a>. (Muslim public officials who use Qurans really get them going.) Many Christian nationalists, including Q-Anon crank U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/qanon-oaths-office">have insisted</a> that the law requires that the Bible be used for swearing-in ceremonies.</p> <p>It does not. Here are the facts:</p> <p><strong><em>Nothing in the Constitution requires that a Bible be used when the president takes the Oath of Office</em></strong><em>. </em><a href="https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/articleii">Article 2, Section 1</a>, of the U.S. Constitution deals with the Oath of Office for the president. It lists the wording for the oath – which, by the way, does not end with the words “So help me, God” – but says nothing about Bibles.</p> <p>To be sure, many public officials do take their oaths of office on Bible. But that’s a matter of tradition and personal choice, not a requirement.</p> <p><strong><em>Members of Congress and state and local lawmakers are not required to use Bibles either.</em></strong><em> </em><a href="https://constitution.congress.gov/browse/article-6/clause-3/">Article VI, Section 3</a>, of the Constitution outlines how members of Congress, members of state legislatures and others are to take their oaths. It states, “The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all execu­tive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution.” No wording is specified, and no books are mentioned.</p> <p>Members of Congress are officially sworn in <em>en masse</em> during a brief ceremony, and no books, religious or otherwise, are used. It is only during private ceremonies that are held later for the purpose of a photo-op that books are commonly used.</p> <p><strong><em>A public official can use a religious text other than the Bible.</em></strong><em> </em>If he or she chooses, a public official can take the Oath of Office on texts reflecting the beliefs of Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Wicca or another faith. Many have done so. In 2007, former U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) <a href="https://www.loc.gov/item/prn-07-001/">took the oath</a> on a copy of the Quran that had been owned by Thomas Jefferson.</p> <p><strong><em>A public official can use a non-religious book.</em></strong><em> </em>In January 2020, three newly elected members of the Manilus, N.Y., Town Board <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/february-2020-church-state-magazine/people-events/ny-town-lawmakers-take-oath-of">took their oaths</a> on a book containing the town code. Other political leaders have used <a href="https://thehill.com/homenews/house/423813-kyrsten-sinema-swears-in-to-congress-using-law-book-instead-of-bible">copies of the U.S. Constitution</a>. In 2019, Kelli Dunaway, a newly elected member of the St. Louis County Council in Missouri, <a href="https://abcnews.go.com/US/missouri-councilwoman-dr-seuss-book-sworn-office/story?id=65096396">chose to be sworn in</a> on a copy of <em>Oh, The Places You’ll Go!</em>, a book by famous children’s author Dr. Seuss. You don’t even have to use a physical book. In 2014, when Suzan G. LeVine was sworn in as U.S. ambassador to Switzerland and Lichtenstein<a href="https://thepolitic.org/an-interview-with-suzan-levine">, she took the oath</a> on a copy of the U.S. Constitution that had been downloaded to a Kindle. She was reportedly the first federal official sworn in on an e-reader.</p> <p>Leaving this to individual choice makes perfect sense. Despite the cries of outrage from Christian nationalists, nothing would be gained by compelling people to swear an oath on a religious book that holds no meaning to them. In fact, that would grossly violate the right of conscience and make a mockery of the religious freedom our First Amendment protects.</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/oaths" hreflang="en">oaths</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/religious-right-0" hreflang="en">Religious Right</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/bibles" hreflang="en">Bibles</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/keith-ellison" hreflang="en">Keith Ellison</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/thomas-jefferson" hreflang="en">thomas jefferson</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/quran" hreflang="en">Quran</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/ceremonial-deism" hreflang="en">Ceremonial Deism</a></div> </div> </div> Thu, 03 Jun 2021 14:04:12 +0000 boston 16854 at https://www.au.org As We Start To Reemerge, Here Are Some Things I Learned During The Pandemic https://www.au.org/blogs/we-are-emerging <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">As We Start To Reemerge, Here Are Some Things I Learned During The Pandemic</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 Jun 02, 2021 - 08:54</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/about/people/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/family%20gathering.jpg?h=119335f7&amp;itok=JsTclnSv" width="1700" height="525" alt="family " title="family gathering" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p><strong><em>Editor’s Note:</em></strong> <em>This post by Americans United President and CEO Rachel Laser originally appeared in the <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/june-2021-church-state-magazine">June 2021 issue</a> of AU’s </em>Church &amp; State<em> magazine. To subscribe and get </em>Church &amp; State<em> delivered to your door every month, </em><a href="https://www.au.org/become-a-member"><em>become a member</em></a><em> of AU.</em></p> <p>I still can’t quite believe it as I write this, but with so many people in my circles now fully vaccinated and infection rates dropping, the coronavirus seems to be winding down. </p> <p>My life appears to be speeding back towards “nor­mal.” In the past month alone, I have been able to safely attend celebratory family occasions, including my niece’s bat mitzvah in Chicago, my middle daughter’s college graduation in Nashville and my great uncle’s 100th birthday parade near Cleveland. It felt incredible to be back with my extended family, giving hugs, eating inside restaurants and not feeling afraid.</p> <p>You know you’re leaving a period of your life behind when you can reflect back on it. So here are some thoughts about what these past long 15 months — replete with an authoritarian president and a deadly pandemic — taught me about church-state separation:</p> <p><strong><em>Opponents of church-state separation will take advantage of crises to assert religious privilege</em></strong><strong>. </strong>Remember<strong> </strong>the coronavirus stimulus money, the Pay­check Protection Program, that directly funded clergy salaries and funneled billions of additional taxpayer dollars to private religious schools? Or how about the 50+ cases where Americans United filed friend-of-the-court briefs because religious extremists were suing state and local governments to ask for a religious ex­emp­tion from public safety orders that temporarily restricted indoor gatherings?</p> <p><strong><em>Opponents of church-state separation are often opponents of science</em></strong><strong>. </strong>The same folks who backed Trump to curry government favor for their religious beliefs also thwarted science repeatedly — with disregard for human life. They defied public safety orders and met during the most dangerous stages of the pandemic despite the many documented instances of massive virus spread from such gatherings. Now many refuse to be vaccinated.</p> <p>Unfortunately, this same base has support from a majority of Supreme Court justices who are just as keen to entangle religion and government and reject science. Who could forget Justice Elena Kagan’s deservingly harsh words accusing the Court’s ultra-conservative majority of practicing “armchair epidemiology” for continuing to ignore science and rule in favor of religious exemptions from COVID-19 gathering restrictions?</p> <p><strong><em>Opponents of church-state separation reject demo­cracy</em></strong><strong>.</strong> I’m thinking here of the Jesus flags and disgusting “Camp Auschwitz” T-shirts at the Jan.  6 insurrection at our Capitol. I’m also thinking about the white Christian nationalist groups mobilizing support for voter suppres­sion laws in several states in order to depress the Black vote. We know already that resisting church-state sep­ara­tion is one form of rejecting democracy, but now we have witnessed stark attacks on <em>other </em>core aspects of democracy from the same crowd.</p> <p><strong><em>Opponents of church-state separation are not just fighting for religious (mostly one narrow form of Chris­tian) privilege, they are also fighting for white, straight, cisgender, male privilege</em></strong><strong>. </strong>This intersectionality has been on display <em>everywhere</em>. Trump’s Muslim and Africa Bans targeted <em>both</em> religious minorities and Black and Brown people. Trump’s Evangelical Advisory Council boasted that <em>they</em> were the ones behind his ban on trans troops in the military.  So many of Trump’s executive orders creating gaping religious exemptions were blows against religious freedom, LGBTQ equality <em>and </em>repro­duc­tive freedom all at once.</p> <p>Take, for example, the Denial of Care rule or the federal contractor rule that allowed a religious litmus test to be used to deny people health care or a govern­ment-funded job respectively. Consider that the same Supreme Court that has been steadily chipping away at the wall of separation has just taken a case reconsid­ering the core tenet of <em>Roe v. Wade</em>.</p> <p>What a rough period we all lived through! What’s amazing, though, is that in America, we can make change if we act. And act we did. People took to the streets in Black Lives Matter protests and spoke out against Trump’s anti-LGBTQ policies and attacks on reproductive freedom. They went to court. They donated to AU and called out Chris­tian nationalism. They voted. And Trump was ousted.</p> <p>Obviously, we still have a lot to accomplish, but the re­pair work has begun.</p> <p>As we continue to emerge from the pandemic, my hope is this: As we all get close enough again to hug, may we continue to do all we can to re-separate religion and gov­ern­ment so that both can be healthy and thrive.</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> </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/protecting-religious-freedom-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic" hreflang="en">Protecting Religious Freedom During the Coronavirus Pandemic</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/us-capitol" hreflang="en">U.S. Capitol</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/donald-trump" hreflang="en">Donald Trump</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/supreme-court" hreflang="en">Supreme Court</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/abortion" hreflang="en">Abortion</a></div> </div> </div> Wed, 02 Jun 2021 12:54:40 +0000 boston 16853 at https://www.au.org ‘Christian Nationalist’ Bible Promotes False Story Of The Origins Of U.S. Law https://www.au.org/blogs/christian-nationalist-bible <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">‘Christian Nationalist’ Bible Promotes False Story Of The Origins Of U.S. Law</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/95" lang="" about="/user/95" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">boston</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Tue Jun 01, 2021 - 10:12</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/about/people/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/person%20with%20bible%20.jpg?h=119335f7&amp;itok=NwvdcVHB" width="1700" height="525" alt="person holds Bible" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>Among Christian nationalists, it’s an article of faith that the U.S. government is based on the Bible.</p> <p>They believe this fervently and have, over the years, produced a steady stream of books, DVDs, websites and other material that promotes the fallacious “Christian nation” view.</p> <p>Now they’re even getting their own Bible.</p> <p><a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/religion/2021/05/28/new-bible-constitution-christian-nationalism/">“The God Bless the USA Bible”</a> will go on sale this September. The Bible, a King James Version, includes the text of the U.S. Constitution, the Pledge of Allegiance and the words to “God Bless the U.S.A.,” by singer Lee Greenwood.</p> <p>This particular version is attracting some critical attention because of the way it attempts to link the Bible to American government.</p> <p>Anthea Butler, a professor of religion at the University of Pennsylvania and author of the new book, <a href="https://uncpress.org/book/9781469661179/white-evangelical-racism/"><em>White Evangelical Racism: The Politics of Morality in America</em></a>, put it well: “You put a document made for a nation up against what many people believe are the words of God and say those things are equal. Are you telling us these documents are equal? They’re not even meant to be compared. For many Christians, it would be offensive.”</p> <p>Other folks will be offended as well – for example, anyone who respects U.S. history. Put simply, our government is not based on the Bible. There’s no model for America’s republican model of government in that religious text. The Bible, when it speaks of government at all, offers the products of its time: theocratic states and nations run by autocratic kings.</p> <p>Features like democracy, representative governing bodies like senates and features like separation of powers come from different historical eras and were refined even further by our founders (who still got a lot of things wrong by ignoring the rights of enslaved people and women).</p> <p>In 2003, a group of <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/june-2003-church-state/people-events/us-law-not-based-on-ten-commandments-law-profs">legal scholars and historians came together</a> to write a court brief debunking the assertion that U.S. law is based on the Ten Commandments. In doing so, they also exposed the lie of a biblical origin of our law.</p> <p>The scholars pointed out that various sources influenced American government, among them English common and statutory law, Roman law, the civil law of continental Europe and private international law. The writings of figures such as William Blackstone, John Locke, Adam Smith and others as well as the Magna Carta, the Federalist Papers and other sources also played a role.</p> <p>"Each of these documents had a far greater influence on America's laws than the Ten Commandments," asserted the scholars’ brief. "Indeed, the legal and historical record does not include significant and meaningful references to the Ten Commandments, the Pentateuch or to biblical law generally." (For more on this history, I recommend Andrew Seidel’s book <a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07JN4K3PY/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&amp;btkr=1"><em>The Founding Myth: Why Christian Nationalism Is Un-American</em></a>.) The final nail in the Christian nationalist coffin comes from the text of the Constitution itself, a secular document that contains no preference for, or even recognition of, Christianity.</p> <p>To be clear, in America anyone has the right to produce any version of the Bible they like and add whatever commentary they see fit. But, despite what some Trumpian conservatives seem to believe these days, simply saying something over and over again in an aggressive manner does not make it fact.</p> <p>Christian nationalists have been loudly proclaiming the Christian nation point of view for decades now. While no one can deny that they’re spirited, they continue to lack just one thing: evidence.</p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issues field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Issues</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/history-and-origins-of-church-state-separation" hreflang="en">History and Origins of Church-State Separation</a></div> </div> </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/bibles" hreflang="en">Bibles</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/federalist-papers" hreflang="en">Federalist Papers</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/christian-nationalism" hreflang="en">Christian nationalism</a></div> </div> </div> Tue, 01 Jun 2021 14:12:03 +0000 boston 16847 at https://www.au.org