The Wall of Separation Blog https://www.au.org/blogs/feed en An Oregon Rancher Found Guilty Of Arson Wants To Teach Religion To Kids In Public Schools https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/an-oregon-rancher-found-guilty-of-arson-wants-to-teach-religion-to-kids-in <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">An Oregon Rancher Found Guilty Of Arson Wants To Teach Religion To Kids In Public Schools </span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/67749" lang="" about="/user/67749" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">Hassanein</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Fri, 07/20/2018 - 10:01</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/about/people/rokia-hassanein" hreflang="und">Rokia Hassanein</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/studentsandsuch.jpg?h=9d96f97f&amp;itok=f_N5Ic0T" width="1700" height="525" alt="Students " typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>An Oregon rancher who President Donald J. Trump pardoned recently has said his new goal <a href="https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2018/07/pardoned-oregon-rancher-to-focus-on-putting-god-in-public-schools/">is to put religion back in public schools</a>. </p> <p>Dwight Hammond Jr. <a href="https://www.justice.gov/usao-or/pr/eastern-oregon-ranchers-convicted-arson-resentenced-five-years-prison">was convicted in 2012</a> of committing arson on federal land. Hammond and his son had been illegally shooting deer on federal land and set the fire to cover up their actions. Government prosecutors said 139 acres of public land were destroyed. A jury found both men guilty, but Trump’s pardon removes those convictions.</p> <p>Nevertheless, this is probably not the kind of man you’d want to teach your kids about morals.  </p> <p>“As I said for a long time, this is not about me. This is not about our industry. It's about America and it's about our youth,” he<a href="https://articles.oregonlive.com/oregon-standoff/2018/07/oregon_rancher_pardoned_by_tru.amp?__twitter_impression=true"> told </a><a href="https://articles.oregonlive.com/oregon-standoff/2018/07/oregon_rancher_pardoned_by_tru.amp?__twitter_impression=true"><em>Oregonian</em></a>. “We don’t stand a snowball’s chance on a slow roll through hell of getting out of this situation until we are willing to let God lead us.”</p> <p>First, it’s not “about America” because America protects the religious freedom of all public school students, including non-religious students, thanks to church-state separation. Second, whatever “situation” he’s talking about seems to be stemming out of panic, since, according to Pew Research, <a href="http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/09/06/more-americans-now-say-theyre-spiritual-but-not-religious/">America is getting more secular</a>.</p> <p><a href="https://www.au.org/resources/publications/religion-in-public-schools">Americans United has noted many times</a> that students in public schools have the right to engage in voluntary prayer but cannot be compelled to take part in religious exercises.</p> <p>Parents should feel comfortable sending their children to public schools and not fear that they will be preached to or forced to pray according to someone else’s faith tradition. Students may engage in truly voluntary prayer, may read the Bible in a non-disruptive way and may form religious clubs that meet after school, but it has to be their choice. They can also talk to fellow students about religion, so long as it isn’t harassing. But public schools may not pressure students to engage in prayer or other religious activities.</p> <p>As <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/we-dont-need-to-bring-back-school-prayer-because-we-already-have-it">AU’s Director of Communications Rob Boston wrote previously</a>, students can also “read religious (or non-religious) books such as the Bible, the Quran, the Upanishads, the Book of Mormon, Buddhist meditations, a tome by Richard Dawkins, etc. during any free time they may have [and] a federal law called the <a href="https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/20/4071">Equal Access Act</a> allows students at secondary schools to form religious and non-religious clubs that meet during non-instructional time. These clubs are student run and entirely voluntary, and those who chose to join can pray, read religious texts, share personal testimony and so on.”</p> <p>So given this broad scope of voluntary freedoms, there’s no need for Hammond to crusade for coerced public school prayer and religion in classroom instruction.</p> <p>The separation of church and state ensures that your taxpayer money funds secular education, not religious education. No one should be forced to fund a religious education regardless of whether they agree or disagree with the content that’s taught. Public schools are for everyone, not just religious – specifically Christian – students.</p> <p>You can help us play a role in continuing to protect public school students. If you believe a <a href="https://www.au.org/get-involved/report-a-violation/form">violation of separation of church and state is occurring in your public school, please let us know by reporting the violation</a>, and our legal team will review it. </p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issues field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Issues</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/classroom-instruction" hreflang="en">Classroom Instruction</a></div> <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/religion-public-schools" hreflang="en">Religion in Public Schools</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/public-school-prayer" hreflang="en">Public School Prayer</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/religious-freedom" hreflang="en">religious freedom</a></div> </div> </div> Fri, 20 Jul 2018 14:01:48 +0000 Hassanein 14296 at https://www.au.org Once Again, Taxpayer-Funded Ark Park In Kentucky Fails To Reach Attendance Projections https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/once-again-taxpayer-funded-ark-park-in-kentucky-fails-to-reach-attendance <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Once Again, Taxpayer-Funded Ark Park In Kentucky Fails To Reach Attendance Projections</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, 07/19/2018 - 11:48</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/about/people/liz-hayes" hreflang="und">Liz Hayes</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image"> <label>Image</label> <div class="item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/banner/public/images/blog_post/Ark%20Encounter%20Wiki%20Jameywiki.jpg?h=f1b085d7&amp;itok=-G56MPSn" width="1700" height="525" alt="Ark Encounter in Kentucky" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>Creationist Ken Ham uses unscientific numbers to calculate the age of the Earth, so it should come as no surprise that Ham also has been accused of using fuzzy math to calculate attendance figures for the Ark Encounter, his Noah’s Ark-themed amusement park in Kentucky.</p> <p>As the biblically inspired Ark Park marks the second anniversary of its grand opening, city officials in the park’s hometown of Williamstown, Ky., are scaling back the revenue they expect to generate from safety fees that are connected to ticket sales.</p> <p>To help cover the cost of emergency services the small town now must provide to the visitors of a large amusement park within its borders, city officials last year initiated a 50-cent fee on the tickets sold at the ark and a few smaller amusement venues in Williamstown. (This is the fee Ham and his company, Answers in Genesis, tried to avoid paying last summer by <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/ken-ham-s-ark-park-does-a-u-turn-goes-back-to-being-for-profit">briefly switching the park’s status to nonprofit</a> – a move that would have had a crushing long-term impact on property tax generation for the community but also nearly resulted in the park losing its $18 million state tourism subsidy.)</p> <p>The local newspaper, the <em>Grant County News</em>, <a href="https://www.grantky.com/content/safety-fee-assessment-projections-fall-short">reported this month</a> that Williamstown had collected about $374,000 in amusement fee revenue from the Ark Park during the first 11 months of the 2017-18 fiscal year. While that’s a nice chunk of change, it’s barely half of what town officials had been led to believe they would collect from the attendance projections submitted by Ham.</p> <p>“Last year, we based [our] budget figure on attendance at the Ark Encounter at 1,400,000,” Williamstown Mayor Rick Skinner told the paper. “This year, we are more conservative and using 870,000 visitors.”</p> <p>Ham initially <a href="https://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/local/2016/10/24/more-than-400000-visitors-flood-ark-park/92523876/">projected 1.2 million people</a> would visit the Ark in the first year after it opened in July 2016, and that average yearly attendance going forward would be in the range of 1.4 million to 2.2 million people. On the first anniversary of the park’s opening, <a href="https://answersingenesis.org/about/press/2017/07/06/ark-encounter-makes-enormous-impact-in-first-year/">Ham said</a> about 1 million people visited in the first year, about 16 percent fewer than expected. But, Ham said he expected the 2017-18 attendance to be “closer to the high end” of the projections – in other words, close to 2.2 million people.</p> <p>Williamstown’s safety fee collection data indicates that not only will the Ark Park’s second-year attendance come nowhere close to 2.2 million, but it will be lucky to hit 1 million. Based on the revenue the city collected, about 750,000 tickets were sold to park visitors in 11 months. In order to hit 1 million paid visitors for 2017-18, Ark Encounter would need about 250,000 visitors in June – more 100,000 more than <a href="http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2018/07/07/grant-county-says-ark-encounters-attendance-is-even-lower-than-ken-ham-claims/">what’s been reported</a> as the best-performing month of the fiscal year, last July.</p> <p>The same day the <em>Grant County News</em> story was published, a <a href="https://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/2018/07/05/ark-encounter-reports-1-million-visitors-2nd-year/759704002/"><em>Cincinnati Enquirer</em> story</a> noted that Ark Encounter officials said they’d reached attendance of 1 million visitors in the past year, which they said was a 20 percent increase from the previous year. Which means about 800,000 people visited the Ark during its first year, not 1 million as Ham previously said and not 1.2 million as he’d projected.</p> <p>My big takeaway from all of this is that Ham can’t be trusted to accurately predict or report the attendance figures at the Ark Encounter. And if it were just a privately funded amusement park that wasn’t getting as many people in the door as its backers had hoped, that would be sad but not something that would be of interest to us at Americans United.</p> <p>But Ark Encounter wasn’t entirely privately funded. Williamstown issued $62 million in junk bonds to help finance the park’s construction and agreed to forgo 75 percent of the park’s property taxes for 30 years to pay back those bonds. As previously mentioned, the state gave the park $18 million in subsidies, plus <a href="https://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/politics/2016/04/22/should-kentucky-taxpayers-pay-ark-encounter-road/83360676/">paid about $10 million</a> to improve nearby roads. A Grant County economic development agency essentially donated 100 acres of land for the park.</p> <p>Local, county and state officials used the promise of economic development to justify using tax dollars to fund a religiously themed amusement park that is part of Ham’s mission of proselytization. But so far, the <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/creationist-ken-ham-s-ky-ark-park-fails-to-lift-all-boats">reports</a> from Williamstown (including this take by <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/comedian-john-oliver-exposes-meager-economic-benefits-of-ark-park-in">HBO comedian John Oliver</a>) have been about minimal development there so far – unless you count at the Ark Park itself, which <a href="https://www.grantky.com/content/ark-celebrates-2nd-year-eyes-expansion">plans continued expansion</a>.</p> <p>If Ham and company ever come back to the local government looking for more taxpayer-funded handouts, officials should proceed more cautiously. They ought to refrain from giving public money to fund religious facilities operated by people who don’t seem to be able to understand the ninth commandment.</p> <p><em>(Photo: The Ark Encounter in Williamstown, Ky., in July 2016 when it opened. Credit: <a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:ArkEncounter.jpg">Jameywiki via Wikimedia</a>)</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/government-support-of-religion" hreflang="en">Government Support Of Religion</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/taxpayer-funding-of-religion" hreflang="en">Taxpayer Funding Of Religion</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Tags</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/ark-park" hreflang="en">Ark Park</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/ken-ham" hreflang="en">Ken Ham</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/kentucky" hreflang="en">Kentucky</a></div> </div> </div> Thu, 19 Jul 2018 15:48:46 +0000 LHayes 14276 at https://www.au.org To Russia, With Love: Why The Religious Right Is Rootin’ For Putin https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/to-russia-with-love-why-the-religious-right-is-rootin-for-putin <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">To Russia, With Love: Why The Religious Right Is Rootin’ For Putin</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, 07/18/2018 - 09:59</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/Moscow%20red%20square%20cropped.jpg?h=5f9a1096&amp;itok=idk7jPhN" width="1700" height="525" alt="Red Square" title="Moscow" 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’s July 16 joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin has left political observers breathless. They’re running out of adjectives to describe it. (“Treasonous” seems to be <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2018/07/17/trump-putin-summit-news-headlines.html">a favorite</a>.)</p> <p>Appearing with Putin after the two leaders held a summit in Helsinki, Trump turned his back on reports from the FBI, CIA and other agencies that have concluded that the Russians interfered in the 2016 U.S. elections. Instead, Trump backed Putin, who insists nothing happened. (Trump’s now attempting to <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-returns-to-touting-his-summit-with-putin-a-day-after-doing-damage-control/2018/07/18/ff794dea-8a70-11e8-8aea-86e88ae760d8_story.html?utm_term=.6b2080c4624c">walk it all back</a>, but it’s not very persuasive.)</p> <p>While political observers are in shock – and <a href="https://twitter.com/newtgingrich/status/1018967261418344450">even some Republicans</a> seem willing to admit that this time Trump went too far, his allies in the Religious Right aren’t troubled by the president’s latest sellout to the former KGB autocrat. Many are continuing to <a href="http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2018/07/17/these-white-evangelical-leaders-praised-donald-trump-after-the-surrendersummit/">applaud him</a>.</p> <p>Why?</p> <p>Part of the reason is simple: Trump is delivering for the Religious Right. He has come through for the movement in many ways, especially when it comes to courts. The nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court is another potential win for <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/the-religious-right-cant-wait-to-get-brett-kavanaugh-on-the-supreme-court">budding theocrats</a>.</p> <p>But there may be a deeper reason as well: Like Trump, leaders and followers of the Religious Right admire Putin and the country he is building. They want the United States to be more like Russia.</p> <p>When it comes to religion and the interaction between church and state, Putin’s Russia is far removed from the official atheism of the Soviet era. Under Putin, the Russian Orthodox Church has assumed a prominent position, both culturally and politically, and the “traditional values” that church leaders champion are becoming government policy. In many ways, modern Russia is the Religious Right’s ideal society.</p> <p>Consider the following:</p> <p>* LGBTQ rights are <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-russia-lgbt-crime/lgbt-hate-crimes-double-in-russia-after-ban-on-gay-propaganda-idUSKBN1DL2FM">under attack in Russia</a>. A 2013 law that aims to ban the dissemination of “gay propaganda” to minors has been used to squelch public gatherings of gay people and detain gay-rights activists. Hate crimes against members of the LGBTQ community are soaring. Even health-related websites have been <a href="https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/05/10/russias-gay-propaganda-censor-attacks-health-website">shut down</a>. The mere act of <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/newsbeat-44765661">dispalying</a><a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/newsbeat-44765661"> a rainbow flag</a> can get you in trouble.</p> <p>* Religion classes <a href="http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Religion-becomes-a-compulsory-subject-in-all-Russian-schools-23967.html">are mandatory</a> in Russian public schools. A 2012 law requires that Russian public schools teach a course called “Fundamentals of Religion” to elementary and secondary school students. Although the courses are offered in four religions – Orthodox Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Buddhism – with an ethics course being offered as well, critics have charged that many schools are <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/23/world/europe/23russia.html">steeped in Orthodoxy</a>. In addition, creationism is <a href="https://ncse.com/news/2010/06/creationism-russia-005566">on the upswing</a>. In 2010, an official with the Orthodox Church called for an end to the “monopoly of Darwinism” in Russian schools.</p> <p>* Women’s rights are in a <a href="https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/04/09/putins-war-on-women/">steady retreat</a> in Russia. Last year, legislators in effect decriminalized many forms of domestic abuse. Orthodox Church officials are pressing for women to remain confined to “traditional” gender roles. Some observers believe Putin will bow to pressure from church officials and <a href="https://foreignpolicy.com/2017/10/03/putins-next-target-is-russias-abortion-culture/">curb legal abortion</a>.</p> <p>* Russia does not respect freedom of conscience. Certain religions are banned there. The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom <a href="https://www.newsweek.com/jehovahs-witnesses-ban-russia-religion-590350">has labeled Russia</a> a “country of particular concern” for its violations of religious freedom.</p> <p>* Freedom of press in Russia is <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2017/11/27/opinions/russia-independent-press-opinion-fishman/index.html">rapidly disappearing</a>.</p> <p>The Religious Right’s love affair with Putin’s Russia is hardly a secret. Several writers <a href="http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/12/why-the-christian-right-shares-trumps-affection-for-putin.html">have</a> <a href="https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/02/how-russia-became-a-leader-of-the-worldwide-christian-right-214755">examined</a> <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/how-the-republican-right-found-allies-in-russia/2017/04/30/e2d83ff6-29d3-11e7-a616-d7c8a68c1a66_story.html?utm_term=.872fc489378d">it</a>. Russian operatives are eager to exploit the connection. Maria Butina, a Russian national who was arrested on Monday and charged with conspiracy and being an agent for the Russian government, sought to make inroads to U.S. conservative groups and <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/maria-butina-russian-gun-rights-advocate-charged-in-us-with-acting-as-russian-federation-agent/2018/07/16/d1d4832a-8929-11e8-85ae-511bc1146b0b_story.html?utm_term=.889ef09d98ea">attended the National Prayer Breakfast</a> for at least two years running.</p> <p>Most Americans have no trouble viewing Russia as what it is: a dangerous rogue state headed by a dictator, a place where human rights are crushed and freedom does not prosper. When Trump and the Religious Right look at Russia, they see something quite different: a model for the United States.</p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issues field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Issues</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/government-support-of-religion" hreflang="en">Government Support Of Religion</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Tags</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/president-donald-trump" hreflang="en">President Donald Trump</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/russia" hreflang="en">Russia</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/russian-orthodox-church" hreflang="en">Russian Orthodox Church</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/vladimir-putin" hreflang="en">Vladimir Putin</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/womens-rights" hreflang="en">women&#039;s rights</a></div> </div> </div> Wed, 18 Jul 2018 13:59:28 +0000 boston 14275 at https://www.au.org Winner Of AU’s 2018 Student Essay Contest, Rimpal Bajwa, Calls To Make America Accepting Again https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/winner-of-aus-2018-student-essay-contest-rimpal-bajwa-calls-to-make <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Winner Of AU’s 2018 Student Essay Contest, Rimpal Bajwa, Calls To Make America Accepting Again</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/73607" lang="" about="/user/73607" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">midyette</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Tue, 07/17/2018 - 11:04</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/about/people/emily-midyette" hreflang="en">Emily Midyette</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/Winner_0.jpg?h=366b443d&amp;itok=O9WbBiTV" width="1700" height="525" alt="Winner of the student essay contest " typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>“The Muslim ban is, in my opinion, the greatest threat to church-state separation not just in the past year but in my entire lifetime,” Rimpal Bajwa writes in her first-place winning essay titled “A Rising Tide Of Religious Discrimination In America Threatens To Wash Away America’s Tradition Of Tolerance.”</p> <p>Bajwa is a graduate of Puyallup High School in her hometown of Puyallup, Wash. Her essay highlighting the dangers of Islamophobia in American government and culture took first place in Americans United’s annual essay contest. Nearly 600 essays by high school juniors and seniors were submitted to AU. Each essay was inspired by the prompt, “What do you think has been the greatest threat to church-state separation in the past year and what have those in your community done to oppose it?”</p> <p>A $1,500 scholarship was awarded to Bajwa for her excellent work. Anastasia Hendricks, a senior from Albuquerque, N.M., who wrote about religion in public schools, earned second-place and a $1,000 scholarship. Third place went to Ariel Hall, a senior from Shaker Heights, Ohio, who also wrote about the Muslim ban and received $500. All three essays can be read <a href="http://www.austudents.org/essay-contest-winners">here</a>.</p> <p>In her essay, Bajwa addressed President Donald Trump’s Muslim Ban, which was <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/supreme-court-turns-its-back-on-religious-freedom-for-all">upheld by the Supreme Court</a> in June, and the harmful stereotypes that continue to plague the American-Muslim community. “People often see Islam as a religion of violence, when it is truly a religion of peace. They see Muslim religious symbols, such as the hijab, as oppression, when it really represents the decency and modesty,” she writes.</p> <p>These misunderstandings have profound impacts on Muslim communities in the United States. Bajwa explains that after 9/11, her Sikh-American parents were often mistaken for Muslims and verbally attacked. She also points out that the term “terrorist” is reserved for those who practice Islam. When Stephen Paddock, a white Christian man, committed a heinous crime that fit the definition of terrorism, he was not labeled “a terrorist” by the media or authorities, but was rather called “a lone wolf.”</p> <p>“According to the FBI, hate crimes against Muslims for 2016 shows a second straight year of increases,” Bajwa wrote. “In the last two years, the number of reported hate crimes has risen by nearly 12 percent.”</p> <p>Trump’s Muslim ban is endorsing these stereotypes, according to Bajwa. She remarks, “A powerful leader is openly endorsing a policy in the media that is born of prejudice and fear in the pretense of national security.”</p> <p>And that policy has implications for church/state separation. Bajwa continues, “He [Trump] is setting a dangerous precedent that discrimination on the sole basis of religion is acceptable, a precedent that could destabilize American society in the future.”</p> <p>What can we do to combat the growing Islamophobia in America? Bajwa suggests that we “empower Muslim voices to help them dispel rumors about their faith and provide factual information about their religion” and “stop labeling only Muslims as terrorists.” Learning to appreciate and respect the religions of others will help make America accepting again, she writes. Bajwa does her part by using her Speech &amp; Debate competitions as a platform to discuss conformity and the pressure immigrants face to assimilate. She performed her oratory piece on the topic at the National Individual Events Tournament of Champions in Denver.</p> <p>Bajwa will be taking her activism to Washington, D.C., this coming fall where she will attend the Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. Bajwa will be majoring in international politics and plans to become a civil rights lawyer. Her essay and a profile about her was published in the <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/julyaugust-2018-church-state-magazine/featured/au-student-essay-contest-winner-a">July-August edition of AU’s <em>Church &amp; State</em> magazine</a>.</p> <p>Those interested in learning more about AU’s youth activism can visit our Students for Church/State Separation site <a href="http://www.austudents.org/#students">here</a>.</p> <p><em>(Pictured above: Essay contest winner Rimpal Bajwa. Pictured below: Bajwa, second place winner Anastasia Hendricks and third place winner Ariel </em><em>Hall.</em><em>) </em></p> <p><img alt="The three winners of the essay contest" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="34c83980-8a39-48ce-a8aa-35fdf27ad09d" src="/sites/default/files/inline-images/essaycontest18_winners-socialmedia_0.jpg" /></p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issues field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Issues</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/religious-freedom" hreflang="en">Religious Freedom</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/religious-minorities-rights" hreflang="en">Religious Minorities&#039; Rights</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Tags</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/students-for-churchstate-separation" hreflang="en">Students for Church/State Separation</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/essay-contest" hreflang="en">Essay Contest</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/youth-activism" hreflang="en">Youth Activism</a></div> </div> </div> Tue, 17 Jul 2018 15:04:25 +0000 midyette 14273 at https://www.au.org Ignoring The Best Interest Of Kids, House Republicans Pass Amendment To Allow Adoption Agencies To Discriminate https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/ignoring-the-best-interest-of-kids-house-republicans-pass-amendment-to <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Ignoring The Best Interest Of Kids, House Republicans Pass Amendment To Allow Adoption Agencies To Discriminate</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/69587" lang="" about="/user/69587" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">LHayes</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Mon, 07/16/2018 - 14:47</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/author/samantha-sokol" hreflang="und">Samantha Sokol</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/Sad%20kid%20on%20swing_0.jpg?h=318ce33a&amp;itok=wcbHCy_Q" width="1700" height="525" alt="Sad boy on swingset" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>A congressional committee <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nj8f2KL5FmI">debated</a> a <a href="https://docs.house.gov/meetings/AP/AP07/20180615/108431/BILLS-115-SC-AP-FY2019-LaborHHS-LaborBill.pdf">bill</a> last week that determines how much money the Departments of Labor, Education and Health and Human Services can spend next year. But House Republicans weren’t content to just pass a bill to fund vital government services.</p> <p>Instead, Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.), with support from Reps. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) and Tom Cole (R-Okla.), tacked on an amendment to allow child welfare agencies, which get money from the bill, to use religion to discriminate. Unfortunately, the amendment passed by a vote of 29-23 with just one Republican – Rep. Scott Taylor (R-Va.) – voting against it.</p> <p>This amendment permits adoption and foster care agencies that receive federal funding to discriminate against qualified prospective parents and children in need based on the agency’s religious beliefs. The result: Kids who are in need of stable homes could be denied the opportunity to join a loving family because prospective parents are LGBTQ, single, previously divorced or even the “wrong religion.” And kids could languish for years in the system.</p> <p>These taxpayer-funded agencies could also refuse to offer assistance to kids without a home. The agency could refuse to provide a foster home to an LGBTQ teen, provide necessary health care to a child who has been sexually assaulted or allow a kid in foster care to attend her church.</p> <p>Religious freedom gives Americans the right to believe, or not, but it does not give us the right to use our religious beliefs to discriminate against kids and families. That’s especially true when organizations, like these adoption and foster care agencies, get taxpayer funding to provide a service on behalf of the government. Taxpayer money should never fund discrimination.</p> <p>And what’s more, this measure goes against everything our child welfare system is supposed to stand for. When the government makes decisions on a child’s behalf, it is supposed to consider the best interest of the child over all else. But this amendment puts the religious beliefs of government-funded adoption and foster care agencies above the best interest of kids – ignoring the bedrock standard.</p> <p>Several states have encouraged similar policies to this one, and the results are appalling: <a href="https://www.greenvilleonline.com/story/news/2018/03/01/miracle-hill-foster-care/362560002/">An experienced foster mom in South Carolina</a> was blocked from mentoring kids because she’s Jewish, <a href="https://broadly.vice.com/en_us/article/a3amze/we-were-rejected-from-adopting-foster-children-because-we-are-gay">a lesbian couple in Michigan</a> was not allowed to adopt foster children because they are gay and <a href="https://www.lambdalegal.org/news/dc_20180220_hhs-sued-after-lesbian-couple-blocked-from-serving-as-foster-parents">a lesbian couple in Texas</a> was told they could not foster refugee children because they don’t “mirror the Holy Family.” This amendment would requires states to allow these shocking policies nationwide, and punishes any states or localities that do not permit such discrimination.</p> <blockquote> <p>Religious freedom gives Americans the right to believe, or not, but it does not give us the right to use our religious beliefs to discriminate against kids and families. </p> </blockquote> <p>Fortunately, several representatives have spoken out against this measure. We were thankful to hear Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Mark Pocan (D-Wisc.), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) and Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) all <a href="https://twitter.com/protectneighbor/status/1017088010628804608">speak out</a> during the hearing.</p> <p><a href="https://twitter.com/HRC/status/1017493764447854592">DeLauro</a> noted that the amendment allowed religion to be used to harm others. She said that this amendment “harms vulnerable children in the foster care system and disregards the best interest of a child.”</p> <p><a href="https://twitter.com/RepKClark/status/1017086663707779084">Clark</a> spoke to reiterate that children’s needs should come first: “A religious litmus test on adoptive parents? The cardinal rule of adoption-foster care is to put the interest of the child first: finding permanent loving homes.”</p> <p>And the next day, <a href="https://www.democraticleader.gov/newsroom/71118-4/">House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)</a> released a statement declaring that “House Democrats will fight this disgusting, deeply immoral and profoundly offensive effort with all our strength.” We’ll be supporting their fight.</p> <p>Although a congressional committee has approved this amendment, several critical steps remain in the process. We will urge legislators to strip this harmful section from the bill at every step of the way. <a href="https://www.au.org/get-involved/updates">Sign up for our emails</a> so that we can keep you informed about what you can do to fight this amendment, and all other efforts in Congress, that allow religion to be used as an excuse to harm others.</p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issues field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Issues</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/discrimination-in-the-name-of-religion" hreflang="en">Discrimination In The Name of Religion</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/government-funded-discrimination" hreflang="en">Government-Funded Discrimination</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/lgbtq-rights" hreflang="en">LGBTQ Rights</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/denials-of-service" hreflang="en">Denials of Service</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Tags</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/adoption" hreflang="en">Adoption</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/congress" hreflang="en">Congress</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/protect-thy-neighbor" hreflang="en">Protect Thy Neighbor</a></div> </div> </div> Mon, 16 Jul 2018 18:47:22 +0000 LHayes 14254 at https://www.au.org Today Members Of Congress Have The Opportunity To Protect the Johnson Amendment. Will They? https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/today-members-of-congress-have-the-opportunity-to-protect-the-johnson <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Today Members Of Congress Have The Opportunity To Protect the Johnson Amendment. Will They?</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/69587" lang="" about="/user/69587" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">LHayes</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Mon, 07/16/2018 - 10:37</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/author/elise-helgesen-aguilar" hreflang="und">Elise Helgesen Aguilar </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/DSC_0070.jpg?h=32f25c35&amp;itok=bJkZgwxo" width="1700" height="525" alt="Faith Leaders gather at the Capitol in support of the Johnson Amendment" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>Later today, the House Rules Committee will take up a bill that contains language to weaken the <a href="http://projectfairplay.squarespace.com/the-johnson-amendment/#johnson-amendment">Johnson Amendment</a>. The bill – which includes funding for governmental entities like the IRS, the city of Washington, D.C.,  and others for fiscal year 2019 – could have profound implications on houses of worship and their ability to remain free from partisan campaign politics.</p> <p>The Johnson Amendment is the portion of the tax code that prevents political campaigns and candidates from pressuring tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organizations like houses of worship for endorsements. <a href="https://static1.squarespace.com/static/568e979c40667a5cc6a4eaf1/t/5b19a0f403ce64a767c700f0/1528406261516/June+2018+FV+Letter+with+Signers.pdf">Faith leaders</a>, <a href="https://static1.squarespace.com/static/568e979c40667a5cc6a4eaf1/t/5b05bdf7575d1f67cf96cb6e/1527102968178/Faith+Org+Letter+106+signers.pdf">religious organizations</a> and <a href="https://www.givevoice.org/sites/default/files/community-letter-in-support-of-nonpartisanship-5-12-update.pdf">nonprofit organizations</a> across the country support the Johnson Amendment because the current law allows them to maintain their free speech rights and their ability to speak to political and social issues, while at the same time preventing political candidates from using them as tools for their own gain. Still, members of Congress are pushing to all but repeal this law.</p> <p>The language included in the bill would weaken the Johnson Amendment by making it nearly impossible to enforce. It would place administrative barriers to enforcement, such as requiring consent from the IRS commissioner, notification to two committees in Congress and a 90-day waiting period. And, even though the Johnson Amendment applies to all 501(c)(3) organizations, this language would apply only to violations by houses of worship, making it likely to violate the First Amendment.</p> <p>Last month, when the <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/the-johnson-amendment-is-under-attack-again-you-can-help-au-defend-it">House Appropriations Committee debated the bill</a>, U.S. Representatives Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) and Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) offered an amendment to remove the Johnson Amendment language. The amendment failed on a party line vote, and the Johnson Amendment language stayed in the committee-passed bill.</p> <p>The next stop before this bill goes to the floor for a vote by the full House is to go before the Rules Committee so that members of the committee can decide which amendments they will allow on the bill. During the Rules Committee debate, Wasserman Schultz will once again offer her amendment to strip the Johnson Amendment language. U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) will also offer an amendment to strike the problematic language.</p> <p>Americans United has joined a <a href="https://static1.squarespace.com/static/568e979c40667a5cc6a4eaf1/t/5b4ca772575d1f504db45b12/1531750259274/07-13-18+House+Rules+Sign+On+Letter+FINAL.pdf">letter</a> along with 144 other organizations that was sent to the committee asking its members to support the Wasserman Schultz and Lewis amendments. If your representative is on the Rules Committee, you can also help – <a href="https://secure.everyaction.com/KqKvxCgNv0OkyEsY6P5ecw2">take action</a> to urge your member of Congress to remove the language that would weaken the Johnson Amendment.</p> <p>Thanks to the advocacy of our members and supporters, along with our coalition partners and allies, we’ve been successful in keeping the Johnson Amendment in place, despite the <a href="https://projectfairplay.squarespace.com/new-page">many attacks</a> to the law we’ve seen over the past year. And we will continue to fight back all attempts to undermine or repeal the Johnson Amendment.</p> <p>To learn more about the Johnson Amendment, check our <a href="http://projectfairplay.squarespace.com/">Project Fair Play</a>, and to take action, see our <a href="https://secure.everyaction.com/KqKvxCgNv0OkyEsY6P5ecw2">action page</a> on how you can contact your members of Congress to support the Johnson Amendment. </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/churches-and-elections" hreflang="en">Churches and Elections</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/johnson-amendment" hreflang="en">Johnson Amendment</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/congress" hreflang="en">Congress</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/debbie-wasserman-schultz" hreflang="en">Debbie Wasserman Schultz</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/barbara-lee" hreflang="en">Barbara Lee</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/john-lewis" hreflang="en">John Lewis</a></div> </div> </div> Mon, 16 Jul 2018 14:37:36 +0000 LHayes 14250 at https://www.au.org A Month Of Action In A Lifetime Of Commitment https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/a-month-of-action-in-a-lifetime-of-commitment <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">A Month Of Action In A Lifetime Of Commitment</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">Fri, 07/13/2018 - 09:53</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/Rachel%20Speaking%20Cropped_0.jpg?h=47d2f24d&amp;itok=w7-aL6yf" width="1700" height="525" alt="AU President and CEO Rachel Laser speaks at rally protesting Supreme Court&#039;s Masterpiece Cakeshop ruling" 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 blog post by AU President and CEO Rachel Laser originally appeared in the <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/julyaugust-2018-church-state-magazine/perspective/a-month-of-action-in-a-lifetime-of">July/August 2018 issue of AU's </a></em><a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/julyaugust-2018-church-state-magazine/perspective/a-month-of-action-in-a-lifetime-of">Church &amp; State</a><em><a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/julyaugust-2018-church-state-magazine/perspective/a-month-of-action-in-a-lifetime-of"> magazine</a>.</em></p> <p>What a month June was! From marching in Washington, D.C.’s pride parade, to deciphering the Supreme Court’s odd decision in <em>Masterpiece Cakeshop</em> to speaking out against the Court’s abhorrent ruling in the Muslim ban case, the entire staff has been incredibly hard at work.</p> <p>There is so much to say about each of these moments, but perhaps most interesting is what they have in common. At heart, they all connect to today’s emboldened movement to use religion to stop America’s steady progress toward its most inclusive self. And they all relate to that same movement’s desire to assert the dominance of far-right evangelical Christians.         </p> <p><a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/americans-united-was-proud-to-bring-the-message-of-church-state-separation">Americans United joined the Capital Pride festivities</a> because we wanted to make clear that religion should never be used to discriminate against or cause harm to our LGBTQ family, supporters and neighbors. Our banner and T-shirts read: “Keep your dogma off my rights!” And the crowd’s whoops and cheers as we marched by made clear that they strongly agreed. No one needs to explain to any member of the LGBTQ community that “religious freedom” is being politicized to privilege one religious group’s particular viewpoint and deny them full equality.</p> <p><a href="http://www.protectthyneighbor.org/masterpiece">The <em>Masterpiece Cakeshop</em> case</a> is an outgrowth of the legal arm of this same movement. Brought by a Religious Right legal group, <em>Masterpiece </em>was an attempt to get our highest court to assert that free exercise of one’s religion means a business can refuse to serve people based on their sexual orientation – even if a state non-discrimination law is in place.</p> <p>Even though <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/the-supreme-courts-masterpiece-cakeshop-ruling-what-really-happened">the court technically ruled</a> in favor of Masterpiece Cakeshop (on the grounds that there was animus towards the baker’s religion during his hearing before the Colorado Civil Rights Commission), the decision also affirmed: “[I]t is a general rule that [religious and philosophical] objections do not allow business owners and other actors in the economy and in society to deny protected persons equal access to goods and services under a neutral and generally applicable public accommodations law.”</p> <p>Although this case represents a strange sort of “win” for inclusion, it is also j<a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/the-ripple-effect-of-the-supreme-courts-masterpiece-cakeshop-decision">ust one of a slew of such legal challenges</a> the Religious Right continues to bring arguing for a business’s right to use religion to discriminate. In essence, these cases seek to codify one set of religious beliefs as being supreme over all belief systems, including American law!</p> <p>So how does the <a href="https://www.au.org/tags/muslim-ban">Muslim ban case</a> relate to these first two examples? The Muslim ban fulfills President Donald Trump’s campaign promise of a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims.” It blocks those who do not fit into the narrow vision of a white Christian America from coming to our country.       </p> <blockquote> <p>There is so much to say about each of these moments, but perhaps most interesting is what they have in common. At heart, they all connect to today’s emboldened movement to use religion to stop America’s steady progress toward its most inclusive self. And they all relate to that same movement’s desire to assert the dominance of far-right evangelical Christians.          </p> </blockquote> <p><a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/supreme-court-turns-its-back-on-religious-freedom-for-all">The court’s decision to allow the ban to stand</a> is a tragedy for the many Muslims who are separated from their loved ones, and a stain on our country. I have no doubt that history will judge this shameful ban for what it is: an effort to narrow the space for religious diversity in our society.</p> <p>At the time of this writing, our talented and dedicated staff and <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/americans-uniteds-interns-reflect-on-an-action-filled-week-of-church-state">many interns</a> were still recovering from rallying outside of the Supreme Court all morning in the hot sun, standing with our Muslim and other allies to protest the court’s ruling. This is what I wrote to them that evening, referencing my much-needed earlier trip to Dunkin’ Donuts:</p> <p>“My lame attempt to feed you all donuts (the Jewish mother in me, I admit) could not adequately thank everyone for your hard work, or console everyone about today’s decision. In moments like this, we must remind ourselves that our individual efforts, even more so when they are all coordinating as they did today, really matter in this battle we are waging over America’s soul. You all have an incredible amount to contribute, and you are doing it. This is what is going to change the tides in our country. So, go home, rest, put some aloe on your sunburns, hydrate and allow yourselves some space to feel sad today, because tomorrow there is even more to do. And this country needs you all badly.”</p> <p>We need you all badly too. Keep fighting.</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/denials-of-service" hreflang="en">Denials of Service</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/discrimination-in-the-name-of-religion" hreflang="en">Discrimination In The Name of Religion</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/discrimination-against-customers" hreflang="en">Discrimination Against Customers</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/religious-freedom" hreflang="en">Religious Freedom</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/religious-minorities-rights" hreflang="en">Religious Minorities&#039; Rights</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Tags</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/capital-pride" hreflang="en">Capital Pride</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/protect-thy-neighbor" hreflang="en">Protect Thy Neighbor</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/supreme-court" hreflang="en">Supreme Court</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/muslim-ban" hreflang="en">Muslim Ban</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-lawsuits field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Lawsuits</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/lawsuit/masterpiece-cakeshop-v-colorado-civil-rights-commission" hreflang="en">Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/lawsuit/iaab-v-trump" hreflang="en">IAAB v. Trump</a></div> </div> </div> Fri, 13 Jul 2018 13:53:17 +0000 LHayes 14218 at https://www.au.org The Religious Right Can’t Wait To Get Brett Kavanaugh On The Supreme Court. That Should Concern Us. https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/the-religious-right-cant-wait-to-get-brett-kavanaugh-on-the-supreme-court <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">The Religious Right Can’t Wait To Get Brett Kavanaugh On The Supreme Court. That Should Concern Us. </span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/67749" lang="" about="/user/67749" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">Hassanein</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Thu, 07/12/2018 - 11:28</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/about/people/rokia-hassanein" hreflang="und">Rokia Hassanein</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/Crowd%20Cheering%20cropped_0.jpg?h=20513853&amp;itok=2f6dtAJW" width="1700" height="525" alt="Values Voters " typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>Earlier this week, President Donald J. <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/brett-kavanaugh-is-the-wrong-choice-for-the-supreme-court">Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh to be</a> the next U.S. Supreme Court justice. Americans United opposes Kavanaugh’s nomination because his record as an attorney and federal judge indicates that he won’t uphold church-state separation.</p> <p>Not surprisingly, leaders of the Religious Right feel differently. They’re fired up over the prospect of Justice Kavanaugh.  </p> <p>Among <a href="https://www.charismanews.com/politics/72049-rodriguez-graham-laud-president-s-nomination-of-kavanaugh-for-supreme-court">the Religious Right leaders supporting Kavanaugh’s nomination</a> is Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council.</p> <p>“From the day Justice Kennedy retired, the Left has sought to make this vacancy all about abortion – even though many other significant issues are at stake including religious freedom and free speech,” Perkins said. “Under the Obama administration, we saw a growing assault on religious freedom, and the courts became a battleground for secularists seeking to remove faith from the public square. Judge Kavanaugh resisted this trend in at least two instances – an HHS contraceptive mandate case and in an opinion supporting inauguration prayers.”</p> <p>Perkins is, of course, praising Kavanaugh’s record of supporting religion being used to harm others, public-school-sponsored prayer and taxpayer money funding religious activities.</p> <p>Far-right groups vetted Kavanaugh. <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/commentary/ct-perspec-goldberg-trump-supreme-court-justice-confirmation-0704-story.html">According to the </a><a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/commentary/ct-perspec-goldberg-trump-supreme-court-justice-confirmation-0704-story.html"><em>Chicago Tribune</em></a>, Kavanaugh has been currying favor with the Religious Right and “had been outsourced to, and approved by, the conservative legal organization the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.”</p> <p>Other groups are equally enthused. In an email to supporters, Faith and Freedom Coalition Chairman Ralph Reed went as far as to assert that Kavanaugh <a href="http://fafc.convio.net/site/MessageViewer?em_id=3722.0&amp;dlv_id=7941">would be a justice “in the model of Antonin Scalia.</a>”</p> <p>And Paula White, Trump’s spiritual advisor, said: “[I]f President Trump hit a home run with Justice Gorsuch, in the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh he’s hit a grand slam.”</p> <p>Still other Religious Right figures, such as Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas and a <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/julyaugust-2018-church-state-magazine/featured/the-apostle-of-trump-the-rev-robert">frequent far-right evangelical apologist</a> for Trump, sees the Kavanaugh nomination as another Trump sop to the Religious Right for its loyalty to him.</p> <p>“Evangelicals are ecstatic because in less than two years, President Trump has filled a second Supreme Court vacancy with a second conservative – just as he promised,” Jeffress said. “The fact that the president chose another conservative justice is more important than the name of that justice. This is a huge win for President Trump.”</p> <p>Evangelist Franklin Graham said that Kavanaugh, “if confirmed, could shape the judicial landscape of this country for decades to come. … We need to thank God for this long-awaited opportunity to change the makeup of the U.S. Supreme Court.”</p> <p>Kavanaugh’s definition of religious freedom, like the Religious Right’s, is narrow, not inclusive. In <a href="https://www.au.org/sites/default/files/2018-07/Brett%20Kavanaugh%20Report%20July%202018.pdf">Americans United’s new report</a> on Kavanaugh’s record, we highlighted how he would likely undermine religious freedom in various ways, including ruling in favor of religion being used as an excuse to discriminate against others, supporting school-sponsored prayer and public funding of religious institutions and prioritizing Christian beliefs over religious and nonreligious minority rights.</p> <p>We can’t let that happen. </p> <p>The separation of church and state is the linchpin of religious freedom. We can’t afford to have a Supreme Court that would undermine it. By nominating Kavanaugh to the court, Trump threatens the vision of religious freedom for which Americans United has fought over the last 70 years. That’s why Americans United is opposing him.</p> <p>It’s not as if the Religious Right knows something the rest of us don’t. In fact, Kavanaugh’s record is quite clear: He’s hostile to church-state separation – and that is exactly why these groups are so excited about him.</p> <p>This process is just getting started, and there’s plenty of time to act. Please urge your senators to reject Kavanaugh’s confirmation. You can do that <a href="https://secure.everyaction.com/AA7G4YCHskeBYDviNGk_GQ2">right here</a>. </p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issues field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Issues</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/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/supreme-court" hreflang="en">Supreme Court</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/brett-kavanaugh" hreflang="en">Brett Kavanaugh</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/religious-right-0" hreflang="en">Religious Right</a></div> </div> </div> Thu, 12 Jul 2018 15:28:46 +0000 Hassanein 14217 at https://www.au.org Brett Kavanaugh Could Be A Disaster For America’s Schoolchildren https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/brett-kavanaugh-could-be-a-disaster-for-americas-schoolchildren <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Brett Kavanaugh Could Be A Disaster For America’s Schoolchildren</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, 07/11/2018 - 09:57</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/about/people/rob-boston" hreflang="und">Rob Boston</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image"> <label>Image</label> <div class="item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/banner/public/images/blog_post/classroom%20cropped_1.jpg?h=0bfc1159&amp;itok=RFVrx3Sb" width="1700" height="525" alt="school classroom" title="kids in class" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>We're hearing a lot of talk about how the elevation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court might affect the rights of women and LGBTQ Americans. But there’s another group whose rights could take a hit as well: America’s schoolchildren.</p> <p>Kavanaugh has an extensive <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/kavanaugh-record-suggests-he-would-favor-religious-interests-in-school-debates/2018/07/10/a805323c-8475-11e8-8f6c-46cb43e3f306_story.html?utm_term=.946178635acc">track record</a> on education issues – and it’s not good. As Americans United detailed in a <a href="https://www.au.org/sites/default/files/2018-07/Brett%20Kavanaugh%20Report%20July%202018.pdf">new report</a>, Kavanaugh, while in private practice in 2000, authored a brief on behalf of two far-right members of Congress in a school prayer case pending before the Supreme Court. The case dealt with school-sponsored but ostensibly student-led prayers being recited over a loudspeaker before football games at a Texas high school, and Kavanaugh made the extreme argument that not only should the prayers be permitted, in some cases they might be <em>required</em>.</p> <p>Kavanaugh went on to criticize the Supreme Court’s line of decisions striking down school-sponsored prayers at graduation ceremonies and at the beginning of the school day – rulings that stretch back <a href="https://www.oyez.org/cases/1961/468">nearly 60 years</a>. He asserted that these prayers could be upheld on the grounds that they “are deeply rooted in our history and tradition.”</p> <p>What about the kids who might not want to participate in someone else’s prayers? What about youngsters grappling with undue pressure to take part in religious worship when they don’t want to? What about the right of parents to decide what religion, if any, their children are raised in? Kavanaugh showed zero concern for any of that. (Thankfully, the Supreme Court rejected Kavanaugh’s argument and <a href="https://www.oyez.org/cases/1999/99-62">struck down</a> the school’s prayer practice 6-3.)</p> <p>Evidence also indicates that Kavanaugh is a fan of vouchers and other forms of taxpayer aid to religious institutions. In his brief in the Texas school prayer case, Kavanaugh attacked high court rulings that prohibit the use of taxpayer money to pay for religious activities, calling those decisions “of questionable validity.”</p> <p>In a speech delivered just last year to the American Enterprise Institute, Kavanaugh opined that “religious schools and religious institutions” should be able to receive “funding or benefits from the government so long as the funding [is] pursuant to a neutral program that, among other things, include[s] religious and nonreligious institutions alike.” (In plain English, he said that if the government funds secular institutions, it might also be required to fund a host of religious ones.)</p> <p>Kavanaugh’s legal theory, if extrapolated, could wipe out the no-aid-to-religion amendments that curb taxpayer support to religion in 38 state constitutions. Indeed, some people are already <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/mikemcshane/2018/07/10/does-a-justice-kavanaugh-mean-that-blaine-amendments-are-history/#11fd4d1c6e74">salivating at that idea</a>.</p> <p>“Please think of the children” has become a cliché and sometimes even <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3jFqhjaGh30">a punchline</a>, but in this case, it’s something you need to do. Ninety percent of American children attend public schools. Those kids deserve well-funded institutions that don’t have to compete with private religious schools, which are unaccountable to the public, for scarce tax dollars. Our students also deserve public schools that are free from religious coercion and pressure.</p> <p>Kavanaugh seems to be oblivious to the important role secular public education – a system that welcomes all youngsters regardless of what they believe or don’t believe about religion – plays in our society. That’s a pretty compelling reason why you should tell your senators to <a href="https://secure.everyaction.com/AA7G4YCHskeBYDviNGk_GQ2">reject his nomination</a>.</p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issues field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Issues</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/schools" hreflang="en">Schools</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/school-sponsored-prayer" hreflang="en">School-Sponsored Prayer</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/private-school-vouchers" hreflang="en">Private School Vouchers</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/government-support-of-religion" hreflang="en">Government Support Of Religion</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/taxpayer-funding-of-religion" hreflang="en">Taxpayer Funding Of Religion</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Tags</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/brett-kavanaugh" hreflang="en">Brett Kavanaugh</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/supreme-court" hreflang="en">Supreme Court</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/no-aid-clauses" hreflang="en">no-aid clauses</a></div> </div> </div> Wed, 11 Jul 2018 13:57:53 +0000 boston 14177 at https://www.au.org Brett Kavanaugh Is The Wrong Choice For The Supreme Court https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/brett-kavanaugh-is-the-wrong-choice-for-the-supreme-court <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Brett Kavanaugh Is The Wrong Choice For The Supreme Court</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/95" lang="" about="/user/95" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">boston</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Tue, 07/10/2018 - 12:32</span> <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-Kavanaugh%20cropped.jpg?h=fdf5cb61&amp;itok=u6YOCO1c" width="1700" height="525" alt="Trump Kavanaugh" title="Kavanaugh Trump " 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 announced last night that Brett Kavanaugh is his nominee to be the next U.S. Supreme Court justice. The president has shown that he has little respect for the separation of church and state, so it is no surprise that he has chosen a nominee who rejects this fundamental value as well. In fact, Kavanaugh <a href="http://www.aei.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/From-the-Bench.pdf">believes</a> that the “wall of separation” metaphor, invoked by Thomas Jefferson and long used to explain the protections guaranteed to us in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, “was wrong as a matter of law and history.”</p> <p>The separation of church and state is the linchpin of religious freedom. We can’t afford to have a Supreme Court that would undermine it. By nominating Kavanaugh to the court, Trump threatens the vision of religious freedom for which Americans United has fought over the last 70 years. That’s why Americans United must oppose him.</p> <p>Trump chose Kavanaugh, who currently sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, from a <a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/president-donald-j-trumps-supreme-court-list/">list</a> of conservative judges that the <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/commentary/ct-perspec-goldberg-trump-supreme-court-justice-confirmation-0704-story.html"><em>Chicago Tribune</em></a><em> </em>explained “had been outsourced to, and approved by, the conservative legal organization the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.” And according to <em><a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/religious-liberty-becomes-a-main-focus-for-conservatives-in-supreme-court-nomination/2018/07/07/45503c2c-807e-11e8-b0ef-fffcabeff946_story.html?noredirect=on&amp;utm_term=.172716bebca5">The Washington Post</a></em>, conservatives were looking for a nominee “willing to shield religious objectors from progressive policies or soften the boundaries between church and state.” They want a justice who will allow religion to be used to undermine antidiscrimination laws that protect LGBTQ people and to obstruct women’s access to health care, including birth control.</p> <p>According to a <a href="https://www.au.org/sites/default/files/2018-07/Brett%20Kavanaugh%20Report%20July%202018.pdf">new report</a> by Americans United, Kavanaugh’s record demonstrates that he would likely undermine religious freedom in a number of ways.</p> <p>First, Kavanaugh would likely grant religious exemptions to businesses and nonprofit organizations even where the exemption could cause real harm to other people. In his dissenting opinion in <a href="https://www.cadc.uscourts.gov/internet/opinions.nsf/425C0AE29F10AFD785257E4B00767BF5/$file/13-5368.pdf"><em>Priests for Life</em></a><a href="https://www.cadc.uscourts.gov/internet/opinions.nsf/425C0AE29F10AFD785257E4B00767BF5/$file/13-5368.pdf"> </a><a href="https://www.cadc.uscourts.gov/internet/opinions.nsf/425C0AE29F10AFD785257E4B00767BF5/$file/13-5368.pdf"><em>v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services</em></a>, Kavanaugh argued that employers can cite religious beliefs to obstruct their employees’ access to contraception. Kavanaugh’s dissent suggests that he would permit the government to grant religious exemptions in future Supreme Court cases even if they result in the denial of health care or discrimination against women, LGBTQ people, or religious minorities. The court could distort religious freedom from a shield to protect religion into a sword to harm others.</p> <p>Second, Kavanaugh is critical of five decades of Supreme Court rulings that prohibit public schools from sponsoring prayer. As an attorney, Kavanaugh wrote a <a href="https://www.au.org/sites/default/files/2018-07/Santa%20Fe%20Independent%20School%20Dist%20v%20Doe%20amicus%20brief.pdf">friend-of-the-court brief</a> in <em>Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe</em>, defending a public school that broadcast student-delivered prayers at its football games. Kavanaugh implied that practices “deeply rooted in our history and tradition” should be permitted even if they “favor or promote religion over non-religion.” The Supreme Court disagreed with Kavanaugh. So does Americans United: Religious freedom requires that the government treat <em>all</em> religions equally, including belief systems that are nontheistic.</p> <p>Third, in friend-of-the-court briefs in both <em>Santa Fe</em> and <a href="https://www.findlawimages.com/efile/supreme/briefs/99-2036/99-2036fo7.pdf"><em>Good News Club v. Milford Central School</em></a>, as well as in a 2017 <a href="http://www.aei.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/From-the-Bench.pdf">speech</a>, Kavanaugh argued against long-standing precedent prohibiting the use of public funds for religious activities. If the Supreme Court were to adopt Kavanaugh’s views on public funding of religion, that would upend the bedrock constitutional principle that we each get to decide for ourselves whether and how our money goes to support religion.</p> <p>When you add all this up, Kavanaugh proves to be the wrong pick for the Supreme Court. With this nomination, the court could be in a position to play favorites and approve practices that promote the majority religion while harming schoolchildren, nonreligious people, women, LGBTQ people, taxpayers and others.</p> <p>It is crucial that the Senate reject Kavanaugh’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. Religious freedom for all Americans hangs in the balance.</p> <p>You can read <a href="https://www.au.org/sites/default/files/2018-07/Brett%20Kavanaugh%20Report%20July%202018.pdf">Americans United's report</a> on Judge Kavanaugh record and you can take action to tell your senators to reject his nomination <a href="https://secure.everyaction.com/AA7G4YCHskeBYDviNGk_GQ2">here</a>.</p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issues field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Issues</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/government-funded-discrimination" hreflang="en">Government-Funded Discrimination</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/denials-of-service" hreflang="en">Denials of Service</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/discrimination-in-health-care" hreflang="en">Discrimination In Health Care</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/reproductive-rights" hreflang="en">Reproductive Rights</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/contraception" hreflang="en">Contraception</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/denials-of-health-care" hreflang="en">Denials of Health Care</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/lgbtq-rights" hreflang="en">LGBTQ Rights</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/displays" hreflang="en">Displays</a></div> <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 class="item"><a href="/issues/private-school-vouchers" hreflang="en">Private School Vouchers</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/government-support-of-religion" hreflang="en">Government Support Of Religion</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/taxpayer-funding-of-religion" hreflang="en">Taxpayer Funding Of Religion</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Tags</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/brett-kavanaugh" hreflang="en">Brett Kavanaugh</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/donald-trump" hreflang="en">Donald Trump</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/anthony-kennedy" hreflang="en">Anthony Kennedy</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/supreme-court" hreflang="en">Supreme Court</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/protect-thy-neighbor" hreflang="en">Protect Thy Neighbor</a></div> </div> </div> Tue, 10 Jul 2018 16:32:55 +0000 boston 14160 at https://www.au.org