The Wall of Separation Blog https://www.au.org/ en Memo To Sen. Kennedy: Religious Tests Are Illegal In America https://www.au.org/blogs/dellinger-religious-test <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Memo To Sen. Kennedy: Religious Tests Are Illegal In America</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/95" lang="" about="/user/95" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">boston</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Fri Jul 30, 2021 - 09:26</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/about/people/rob-boston" hreflang="und">Rob Boston</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image"> <label>Image</label> <div class="item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/banner/public/images/blog_post/Sen%20Kennedy%20screenshot%202.png?h=516afbee&amp;itok=PwJRhkYz" width="1700" height="525" alt="Sen. Kennedy" title="Sen. Kennedy " typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>As Americans United President and CEO Rachel Laser <a href="https://www.au.org/media/press-releases/Kennedy-Religious-Test-Hearing">noted yesterday</a>, U.S. Sen. John N. Kennedy (R-La.) badgered Hampton Dellinger, President Joe Biden’s nominee to be assistant attorney general in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Policy, about his personal religious beliefs.</p> <p>This was highly inappropriate, and it also runs afoul of a section of the U.S. Constitution that specifically states that there can be no religious test for public office.</p> <p>The exchange occurred Wednesday during a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee after Kennedy began aggressively questioning Dellinger about a tweet Dellinger issued years ago in which he observed that most attempts to ban legal abortion come from Republican men.</p> <p>After lecturing Dellinger about abortion, Kennedy demanded to know, “Do you believe in god?” Dellinger attempted to reply that he is a man of faith, but Kennedy continued to talk over him. (You can see the video <a href="https://www.judiciary.senate.gov/meetings/07/21/2021/nominations">here</a> at 2:07:12.)</p> <p>There’s a question I’d like to ask Kennedy: Have you read <a href="https://constitutioncenter.org/interactive-constitution/article/article-vi">Article VI</a> of the U.S. Constitution? If you’ll take the time to do that, you’ll see the following: “[N]o religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”</p> <p>Let’s be clear about this: Whether Dellinger worships one god, five gods, 20 gods or no god has no bearing on his ability to be a lawyer for the U.S. government. Asking people about their religious beliefs during a job interview is <a href="https://www.thebalancecareers.com/how-to-answer-inappropriate-interview-questions-2061334#:~:text=During%20an%20interview%2C%20an%20interviewer%20can%20ask%20if%20you%20can,of%20worship%20or%20your%20beliefs.">illegal in most instances</a> – and it’s certainly inappropriate for a government position.</p> <p>What’s even more galling is that Kennedy was one of the GOP senators who went ballistic in 2017 after U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) asked Amy Coney Barrett, who at that time was under consideration for a federal judgeship, some admittedly clumsily worded questions about how her religious beliefs might affect her rulings.   </p> <p>Guess what? If Kennedy believes it wasn’t all right for Feinstein to question Barrett about her faith, it’s not all right for Kennedy to do it to Dellinger. There’s a word for believing that it is, as Laser noted yesterday – “hypocrisy.”</p> <p>“In a democracy that values the fundamental American principle of church-state separation, U.S. senators don’t get to ask a nominee for public office whether they believe in god during a Senate hearing,” Laser said. “That’s a flat-out violation of our Constitution’s promise that there is no religious test for public office. It’s also grossly hypocritical to witness Sen. Kennedy, who claims to be a champion of religious freedom, so blatantly deny that freedom to others.”</p> <p>Sen. Kennedy, you owe Hampton Dellinger an apology.</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/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/article-vi" hreflang="en">Article VI</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/doj" hreflang="en">DOJ</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/senate" hreflang="en">Senate</a></div> </div> </div> Fri, 30 Jul 2021 13:26:13 +0000 boston 16933 at https://www.au.org After 65 Years Of ‘In God We Trust,’ The Problems With The National Motto Have Never Been Clearer https://www.au.org/blogs/IGWT-at-65 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">After 65 Years Of ‘In God We Trust,’ The Problems With The National Motto Have Never Been Clearer</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 Jul 29, 2021 - 08:38</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/about/people/ethan-magistro" hreflang="en">Ethan Magistro</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/IGWT%20100.jpg?h=30fce0b8&amp;itok=okurfAPu" width="1700" height="525" alt="motto" title="IGWT motto" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>Sixty-five years ago tomorrow, President Dwight Eisenhower<a href="https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/84/hjres396/text"> </a><a href="https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/84/hjres396/text">signed into law</a> a resolution that enshrined “In God We Trust” as our nation’s official motto.</p> <p>“In God We Trust” is the nation’s first official motto — the <em>de facto</em> motto “<em>E Pluribus Unum” </em>(out of many, one) was never legally codified. That same day, July 30, 1956, the 84th Congress also passed a measure to require all American currency to include “In God We Trust,” which is why your Abe Lincolns and Alexander Hamiltons have the phrase on their backsides.</p> <p>The phrase<a href="https://www.treasury.gov/about/education/pages/in-god-we-trust.aspx"> </a><a href="https://www.treasury.gov/about/education/pages/in-god-we-trust.aspx">first appeared</a> on U.S.  coins to respond to increased religiosity during the Civil War, being stamped on a two-cent coin issued in 1864. After appearing on most coins until 1873, the motto disappeared but would sometimes reappear. It wasn’t until the Eisenhower administration that it was permanently enshrined on American currency.</p> <p>There are various reasons offered for the introduction of “In God We Trust” in the 1950s. The most oft-cited reason – and the one mentioned by U.S. Rep. Charles Bennet (D-Fla.) on the House floor – was to distinguish the United States from the Soviet Union, which enforced state atheism. Bennet proclaimed, “In these days when imperialistic and materialistic communism seeks to attack and destroy freedom, we should continually look for ways to strengthen the foundations of our freedom.” He continued by arguing that “while the sentiment of trust in God is universal and timeless, these particular four words ‘In God We Trust’ are indigenous to our country.”</p> <p>Yet the Cold War narrative hides more than it reveals. In his book <em>One Nation Under God</em>, <a href="https://history.princeton.edu/about/publications/one-nation-under-god-how-corporate-america-invented-christian-america">Kevin M. Kruse</a>, a professor of history at Princeton University, points toward Eisenhower’s revolutionizing of religion in American society as a catalyst for the motto change. Eisenhower is the only president to have been baptized during his time in office. He was close friends with Billy Graham, instituted opening prayer before cabinet meetings and cemented the idea that America is, should be, and always was, a religious nation.</p> <p>Kruse goes on to argue that corporations in America were the head engineers of this religious revival, but the historical picture he paints of Eisenhower and the religious extremists before him is damning for the Cold War argument about the adoption of “In God We Trust.” That legacy makes it much more difficult to believe that adoption of the motto had a secular rationale, as advocates sometimes claim.</p> <p>While the jurisprudence around the issue, which largely argues that the phrase has become<a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/march-2015-church-state/featured/symbols-and-civil-religion"> </a><a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/march-2015-church-state/featured/symbols-and-civil-religion">so ceremonial</a> that it has lost any religious favor, is often invoked by motto defenders, it is ultimately unconvincing. The phrase <em>is</em> religious, and, above all, reflects Christian principles. “In God” evokes a traditional, singular god, a belief that excludes some religions. The “We” groups all Americans, religious or not, into a crowd of singular believers; should you not believe, you feel less American. And with “Trust,” it asks of Americans to have faith in a divine providence many <em>don’t</em> trust.</p> <p>The language of the motto, combined with a history that pushed church-state separation to its limits, makes “In God We Trust” anything but the secular ceremonial phrase many people believe it to be. Perhaps it’s time we let the phrase go. Ultimately, people of all religions and none should feel like they are a part of the United States without having to profess a trust in God. Those who do trust in God should be able to express that belief freely, so long as they do not abuse the law to impose their religious beliefs on others.</p> <p>As for a replacement motto, there are a lot of possibilities. <em>E Pluribus Unum </em>is always a great one to fall back on, but the state motto of Oregon, “She Flies with Her Own Wings,” has a nice ring to it, too. I’m personally a fan of “Cultivate Peace and Harmony with All '' or “Moderation, Perseverance, and Firmness,” two phrases from George Washington’s<a href="https://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/resources/pdf/Washingtons_Farewell_Address.pdf"> </a><a href="https://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/resources/pdf/Washingtons_Farewell_Address.pdf">farewell address</a>. Any of these are more inclusive, and truer to American ideals, than “In God We Trust.”</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 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/god-we-trust" hreflang="en">in god we trust</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/ceremonial-deism" hreflang="en">Ceremonial Deism</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/dwight-eisenhower" hreflang="en">Dwight Eisenhower</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/russia" hreflang="en">Russia</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/atheism" hreflang="en">Atheism</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/congress" hreflang="en">Congress</a></div> </div> </div> Thu, 29 Jul 2021 12:38:53 +0000 boston 16931 at https://www.au.org To Understand Christian Nationalism, Read These Two Articles https://www.au.org/blogs/read-two-articles <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">To Understand Christian Nationalism, Read These Two Articles</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 Jul 28, 2021 - 09:24</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/religion%20politics%20sign.jpg?h=a5eb5da0&amp;itok=QVpoVtxe" width="1700" height="525" alt="sign" title="sign" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>Two important articles have just been published about Christian nationalism and the political goals of its adherents.</p> <p>At <em>Salon</em>, writer Paul Rosenberg has an <a href="https://www.salon.com/2021/07/24/the-christian-nationalist-assault-on-democracy-goes-stealth--but-the-pushback-is-working/">insightful piece</a> about the latest news concerning Project Blitz, a Christian nationalist effort to pass repressive, theocratic laws in as many states as possible.</p> <p>As Rosenberg notes, exposure of Project Blitz by Frederick Clarkson, a longtime AU ally and researcher, and a coalition of groups including AU has led its backers to try to engage in stealth tactics. But when your goal is to pass bills in states, you can only be so quiet about it. Rosenberg also gives a shout-out to AU President and CEO Rachel Laser, quoting Clarkson who lauds Laser for making opposition to Project Blitz “a signature campaign of her presidency.”</p> <p>Rosenberg’s story is lengthy, but it’s packed with useful information, including an important historical analysis that puts Project Blitz in context with the current backlash against critical race theory and outlines what we might expect next from these religious extremists.</p> <p>The second must-read is <a href="https://religiondispatches.org/how-far-will-white-christians-go-to-maintain-power-an-interview-with-robert-jones/">an interview</a> with Robert P. Jones, founder of Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), at Religion Dispatches. PRRI regularly publishes compelling research that helps us understand white Christian nationalism and the people who cling to it.</p> <p>Jones, author of the recent book <a href="https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/White-Too-Long/Robert-P-Jones/9781982122874"><em>White Too Long: The Legacy of White Sup­remacy in American Christianity</em>, </a>points out the profound demographic trends under way in America – and how they might push Christian nationalists to embrace even more extreme views.</p> <p>“We’ve gone from 54% white Christian to just 44% since Obama was first elected, or a drop of about 1% per year,” Jones told Religion Dispatches. “Previous generations of white Christians had the convenience of being able to support participation for all, at least at the rhetorical level, because their dominance wasn’t under threat. Today the question is whether these Christians only support democracy in instrumental ways. And the answer we are getting from many quarters is that they were supportive of democracy as long as they were in charge.”</p> <p>(Jones penned a powerful article for <em>Church &amp; State</em> recently, which you can <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/april-2021-church-state-magazine/featured/a-troubling-legacy-revealing-the-white">read here</a>.)</p> <p>Knowledge is power. Read these articles to get both.</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/religious-right-0" hreflang="en">Religious Right</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/fred-clarkson" hreflang="en">Fred Clarkson</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/project-blitz" hreflang="en">Project Blitz</a></div> </div> </div> Wed, 28 Jul 2021 13:24:19 +0000 boston 16930 at https://www.au.org Litigation Over A School’s Name Change Displays Christian Nationalist Paranoia At Its Finest https://www.au.org/blogs/canyon-hills-case <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Litigation Over A School’s Name Change Displays Christian Nationalist Paranoia At Its Finest</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 Jul 27, 2021 - 08:47</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/about/people/ethan-magistro" hreflang="en">Ethan Magistro</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/junipero%20serra.jpg?h=5674d3e6&amp;itok=gQsPc92P" width="1700" height="525" alt="serra" title="J Serra" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>Most of the time when social conservatives air their grievances about removing Confederate statues or renaming schools that honor racist figures, they are inspired by a sense of cultural resentment of changing times. A recent<a href="https://eadn-wc01-1479010.nxedge.io/cdn/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Complaint-Serra-HS.pdf"> </a><a href="https://eadn-wc01-1479010.nxedge.io/cdn/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Complaint-Serra-HS.pdf">lawsuit</a> filed by the Thomas More Society, a conservative law firm associated with the Religious Right, makes that resentment painfully obvious.</p> <p>Canyon Hills High School, a school in San Diego, recently voted to drop the name Junipero Serra High School, after a student-led campaign called for a name change.<a href="https://www.britannica.com/biography/Saint-Junipero-Serra"> </a><a href="https://www.britannica.com/biography/Saint-Junipero-Serra">Junipero Serra</a> was a Catholic missionary in California in the 1700s and has a controversial legacy as a colonialist and abuser of Native Americans. In response, the Thomas More Society filed a lawsuit against the school on behalf of local residents. The lawsuit alleges that the renaming disfavors Catholicism and failed to follow proper procedures.</p> <p>Before getting into the nitty-gritty of this complaint, we should first remember that the Thomas More Society was<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/31/us/trump-election-lie.html"> </a><a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/31/us/trump-election-lie.html">deeply involved</a> with Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election and that most of their election lawsuits were quickly thrown out of court. We ought to keep those embarrassing lawsuits in mind as we investigate this one.</p> <p>Let’s first tackle their portrayal of Serra, who in 2015 was named a saint by the Catholic Church. You would think that a complaint that so aggressively argues that the school board misrepresented history by portraying Serra as a colonialist would try to be more evenhanded, but the Thomas More Society holds no bars in stretching the facts. The Society often claims the historiographical record holds Serra as a holy, unimpeachable figure, yet historians have been<a href="https://www.ucpress.edu/book/9780520295391/the-worlds-of-junipero-serra"> </a><a href="https://www.ucpress.edu/book/9780520295391/the-worlds-of-junipero-serra">anything but conclusive</a> on him. While Serra is acknowledged to have done some things right, he<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/23/pope-francis-junipero-serra-sainthood-washington-california"> </a><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/23/pope-francis-junipero-serra-sainthood-washington-california">forced Native Americans to convert to Christianity</a> and abused Native converts who rebelled. Serra was fundamentally a colonialist, a fact that one cannot historically argue against; he came to the United States under the command of the Spanish crown, and he operated his mission under Spanish control.</p> <p>Another odd claim by the complaint is that removing a saint’s name from the school somehow violates church-state separation since the new name supposedly favors indigenous religion. But removing the name of a Catholic saint from a public school seems like something that would <em>satisfy</em> constitutional protections for church-state separation, considering that “Canyon Hills” (contrary to the complaint’s assertions that it’s an indigenous name) is<a href="https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/education/story/2021-03-09/san-diego-unified-changes-name-of-junipero-serra-high-school-conquistador-mascot-after-students-said-they-were"> </a><a href="https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/education/story/2021-03-09/san-diego-unified-changes-name-of-junipero-serra-high-school-conquistador-mascot-after-students-said-they-were">based on the geography</a> of the school’s region – an area with canyons that is occasionally referred to as “the Island in the Hills” – so, in other words, is an entirely secular name.</p> <p>The Thomas More Society also seems to believe that picking a rattlesnake as the school’s mascot favors indigenous religion because the rattlesnake is “a sacred symbol” of local indigenous tribes. It’s quite unlikely that the school had any religious motivation in picking the new mascot; more likely, the school chose the rattlesnake because it is perceived to be a “fierce” creature, like mountain lions, bears, eagles, etc. (No one ever names a football team after, say, mice.)</p> <p>But more obvious than the contradictions posed by The Thomas More Society’s lawsuit is the Christian nationalist animosity toward changing times and paranoia that their regressive view of society is being “persecuted.” It only takes two paragraphs for the Thomas More lawyers to dip their toes into right-wing culture wars:</p> <p>“In the summer of 2020, Black Lives Matter protests and other demonstrations swept across the county, sparking an acute interest in Critical Race Theory and public erasure of symbols of colonialism – including Serra himself. Statues of Serra were defaced and attacked, and one of his churches was burned in an attack that represented animosity toward the Catholic faith and its role in California history.”</p> <p>The inclusion of<a href="https://www.americanbar.org/groups/crsj/publications/human_rights_magazine_home/civil-rights-reimagining-policing/a-lesson-on-critical-race-theory/"> </a><a href="https://www.americanbar.org/groups/crsj/publications/human_rights_magazine_home/civil-rights-reimagining-policing/a-lesson-on-critical-race-theory/">critical race theory</a> in a case about religion seems abstruse, but it fits with the Society’s attempt to characterize the principal and school as filled with leftist radicals who are intent on annihilating Catholicism. Besides being a questionable legal maneuver, the mention of critical race theory, which every right-wing pundit is losing their heads over, and the hyperbolic threat of anti-Catholic “bigotry,” shows just how much paranoid politics drives the Religious Right.</p> <p> As easy as it is to disparage these folks for being nutty, it’s worth remembering that some of them have become genuinely convinced their livelihoods are being threatened by a shadowy liberal force manifesting itself in school name changes. That, of course, is no excuse for the harm they threaten against others based on their religious beliefs. But it is a reminder that the best way to counter right-wing fervor is to wield separation of church and state as a protective shield, not as a fiery sword like religious extremists are intent on doing.</p> <p><em>Photo by Flickr user HarshLight.</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/public-education" hreflang="en">public education</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/california" hreflang="en">California</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/thomas-more-society" hreflang="en">Thomas More Society</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, 27 Jul 2021 12:47:24 +0000 boston 16929 at https://www.au.org Remembering Bob Meneilly, A Cleric Who Championed Church-State Separation https://www.au.org/blogs/remembering-Bob-Meneilly <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Remembering Bob Meneilly, A Cleric Who Championed Church-State Separation</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/95" lang="" about="/user/95" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">boston</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Mon Jul 26, 2021 - 09:45</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/about/people/rob-boston" hreflang="und">Rob Boston</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image"> <label>Image</label> <div class="item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/banner/public/images/blog_post/bob%20men.jpg?h=edfea1c4&amp;itok=eZF7mq3a" width="1700" height="525" alt="Bob Meneilly" title="Bob Meneilly " typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>Before we had the internet and digital news, I used to begin my days at Americans United by unfolding a paper copy of <em>The New York Times</em> and scanning the headlines for news about separation of church and state.</p> <p>On Aug. 29, 1993, I spotted <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/1993/08/29/opinion/government-is-not-gods-work.html">an op-ed that blew me away</a>. Written by Dr. Robert H. Meneilly, a Presbyterian minister who pastored the Village Church in Prairie Village, Kan., it began with a bold statement: “Religion can be the greatest thing on earth or the worst. It can be the greatest healing therapy in society, or the greatest hazard to a society’s health. It can be a democratic republic’s greatest good or its worst threat.”</p> <p>What followed was a power broadside against the political machinations of the Religious Right. My first question after finishing it was, “Who is this man?” My second was, “How can we work with him?”</p> <p>I soon learned that Meneilly, <a href="https://www.kansascity.com/news/local/article252950383.html?fbclid=IwAR0OZXu8lemLP_z0IQuFveHOUYOO0Zh2iiXdFkx94BHblb6xBIU7_hSKGIY">who died July 20 at age 96</a>, was no stranger to social justice. He worked for civil rights in the 1960s, women’s rights in the 1970s and LGBTQ rights in the 1980s and ’90s. He recognized religious extremism for what it was: a threat to everyone’s rights. He knew he had to speak out.</p> <p>Bob’s op-ed was an edited version of <a href="https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/mainstreamcoalition/pages/134/attachments/original/1401893821/Dr._Bob_Sermon_-_The_Dangers_of_Religion.pdf?1401893821">a sermon</a>, and he graciously allowed <em>Church &amp; State</em> to reprint the entire presentation in the February 1994 issue. Reading it again this weekend, I was especially struck by this passage: “The issue of this sermon is not politics, but religion. If we continue to let the historic wall between church and state erode away, religion will suffer more than the state. Religious Right extremists want nothing less than to force our American society to enact into law their exclusive religious views, and thereby impose them on everyone. But ours is a constitutional republic made up of many different religions – where every individual’s rights are guaranteed and all voices are heard. The Religious Right seeks a theocracy that legislates and enforces its particular vision of God’s law.”</p> <p>Two things jump out at me: Bob knew how to tell it like it is, and those words could have been written last week.</p> <p>After his <em>Times </em>opinion column, Meneilly and several other pastors in Johnson County, Kan., formed the <a href="https://www.mainstreamcoalition.org/">Mainstream Coalition</a>, a Kansas-based group that worked to counter religious extremism. It was an opportune time. TV preacher Pat Robertson’s Christian Coalition was taking over state branches of the Republican Party in state after state, and James Dobson’s Focus on the Family had formed state affiliates to pressure legislators to enact repressive “pro-family” legislation that was anything but. Bob and his clerical allies struck back with force, making it clear to millions of Americans that these budding theocrats did not speak for all Christians and certainly not for all people of faith.</p> <p>He once told the <em>Kansas City Star</em>, “I have always believed in the preservation of the separation between church and state. My main point was that our constitutional liberties are not anti-religious. Sometimes the Religious Right claims they are.”</p> <p>Throughout his professional life, Bob Meneilly worked to expand freedom and oppose those who would use their religion as a cudgel to keep others down. The stands he took were often not popular at the time, but they were always right. He leaves quite a legacy. Let’s honor it by carrying forth his work.</p> <p><em>Photo: Screenshot from the Village Church website. </em></p> <p> </p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issues field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Issues</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/history-and-origins-of-church-state-separation" hreflang="en">History and Origins of Church-State Separation</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/religious-freedom" hreflang="en">Religious Freedom</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Tags</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/christian-coalition" hreflang="en">Christian Coalition</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/focus-family" hreflang="en">Focus On The Family</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/kansas" hreflang="en">Kansas</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/religious-right-0" hreflang="en">Religious Right</a></div> </div> </div> Mon, 26 Jul 2021 13:45:23 +0000 boston 16928 at https://www.au.org Five Cases That SCOTUS Could Use To Barrel Through The Wall Of Separation https://www.au.org/blogs/five-high-court-cases <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Five Cases That SCOTUS Could Use To Barrel Through The Wall Of Separation</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/95" lang="" about="/user/95" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">boston</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Thu Jul 22, 2021 - 08:55</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/about/people/ethan-magistro" hreflang="en">Ethan Magistro</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image"> <label>Image</label> <div class="item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/banner/public/images/blog_post/us%20supreme%20court%20inside.jpg?h=119335f7&amp;itok=CdUL3psZ" width="1700" height="525" alt="supreme court " title="US Supreme Court inside " typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>Although the Supreme Court’s 2020–2021 term has ended, trepidation about cases in the pipeline for the next term is growing. The court has already agreed to hear a variety of highly charged cases during its 2021-22 session, and other cases it may decide to hear could have detrimental results for church-state separation.</p> <p>Here are the top cases that Americans United is watching carefully:</p> <p><a href="https://www.oyez.org/cases/2021/20-1088"><em>Carson v. Makin</em>:</a> This case deals with one of American United’s bread and butter issues: school vouchers. Maine school districts that don’t operate their own secondary schools offer to pay students’ tuition at private schools, so long as the private schools don’t use the money for religious instruction and don’t unlawfully discriminate. Yet a group of Maine parents wants to use funding from this voucher-like program to pay for religious education of their children at religious schools that have discriminatory policies. The court granted review of this case. A bad ruling in this case could mean that states must include religious schools in voucher programs, even when that funding is used for religious or discriminatory purposes. We’re all on the edge of our seats to see how the justices decide this one.</p> <p><a href="https://www.oyez.org/cases/2021/19-1392"><em>Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization</em></a>: The court has also agreed to hear this case, which has been the focus of intense speculation by every legal reporter in the nation since it could overturn <a href="https://www.oyez.org/cases/1971/70-18"><em>Roe v. Wade</em></a>. While the case does not explicitly involve religion-based legal claims, religious motivations <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/july-august-2021-church-state-magazine/featured/the-end-of-roe-if-legal-abortion-is">play a large role in anti-abortion legislation</a> and the anti-abortion movement. A ruling in favor of the deeply restrictive Mississippi anti-abortion law at issue in the case would be another step toward theocratic control of American law.</p> <p><a href="https://www.leagle.com/decision/incaco20190917028"><em>Dignity Health v. Minton</em></a>: A Catholic hospital in California canceled Evan Minton’s scheduled hysterectomy once it learned that he is a transgender man. In response to Minton’s suit, Dignity Health raised a freedom-of-religion defense, arguing that it had a right to refuse to provide medical treatment that violates its religious beliefs. The court has not decided whether it will hear the case, but if it does, a ruling in favor of the Catholic hospital would have dangerous implications. With more and more hospitals around the country <a href="https://www.fiercehealthcare.com/healthcare/number-catholic-hospitals-us-has-grown-22-since-2001">having a Catholic affiliation</a> – Dignity Health is the fifth largest healthcare system in the nation – a ruling in Dignity’s favor could give a substantial proportion of the country’s hospitals <em>carte blanche </em>to refuse to provide procedures they disapprove for religious reasons. For example, some religiously affiliated hospitals refuse to perform tubal ligations in conjunction with caesarian sections or to terminate a pregnancy even when it’s clear that the fetus has no chance of surviving and the mother’s life is in danger. A bad ruling here could even open the door for religiously affiliated hospitals to simply refuse to treat LGBTQ people based on a purported religion-based “right” to discriminate. This is a prime example of when religious beliefs could be used to acutely harm others.</p> <p><a href="https://law.justia.com/cases/federal/appellate-courts/ca1/20-1158/20-1158-2021-01-22.html"><em>Shurtleff v. City of Boston</em></a>: The city of Boston, which allows private groups to request to fly a flag on a city-owned flagpole outside city hall, rejected an application by Harold Shurtleff to fly the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_Flag">Christian flag</a>. Shurtleff sued, making a freedom-of-speech argument, but federal trial and appellate courts ruled that flags on the pole are government speech, not private speech, so the city has the right to decide what flags it flies. The appellate court explained that flying the Christian flag on the city’s flagpole could also violate the separation of church and state, and the court cited a friend-of-the-court brief Americans United filed in the case. Should the Supreme Court grant review and rule in favor of Shurtleff, the decision could be another major blow to church-state separation.</p> <p><a href="https://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/roman-catholic-diocese-of-albany-v-lacewell/#:~:text=Lacewell,-Facebook%20LinkedIn%20Twitter&amp;text=N.Y.&amp;text=Issues%3A%20(1)%20Whether%20New,applicable%E2%80%9D%20under%20Employment%20Division%20v."><em>Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany v. Lacewell</em></a>: New York requires employer-sponsored health insurance plans to cover medically necessary abortions but provides a religious exemption to tax-exempt non-profits that exist to inculcate religious values and primarily employ and serve people of their own religion. The limited scope of the exemption makes sense; a broader exemption would allow religious organizations to impose anti-abortion religious beliefs on people who do not share those beliefs. Yet the Diocese of Albany wants New York to expand the exemption to include all religious organizations, ultimately asking the court to overturn the precedent that makes it harder to use religion to abridge people’s rights. Were the court to agree to hear this case and rule in favor of the diocese, religious organizations that employ an ideologically diverse array of people could force their religious beliefs on their employees, refusing to provide coverage for medically necessary abortions.</p> <p>There are other cases with church-state significance that Americans United is keeping an eye on, such as a case (<a href="https://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/federal-bureau-of-investigation-v-fazaga/"><em>FBI v. Fazaga</em></a>) involving FBI surveillance of individuals simply because they were Muslim. So, the fight for church-state separation will be intense next term, but no matter how the odds are stacked, Americans United is ready to throw some punches.</p> <p><em>If you want to hear more about where the Supreme Court is going and the future legal landscape of church-state separation, </em><a href="https://secure.everyaction.com/VUE-8r1A9kOVowlr6QPkDQ2"><em>join us</em></a><em> Aug. 3 for a presentation and Q&amp;A session with AU attorneys.</em></p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issues field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Issues</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/religious-freedom" hreflang="en">Religious Freedom</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/discrimination-in-the-name-of-religion" hreflang="en">Discrimination In The Name of Religion</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/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/display-of-religious-symbols" hreflang="en">display of religious symbols</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/reproductive-choice" hreflang="en">reproductive choice</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/abortion" hreflang="en">Abortion</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/neo-vouchers" hreflang="en">neo-vouchers</a></div> </div> </div> Thu, 22 Jul 2021 12:55:31 +0000 boston 16927 at https://www.au.org Public Schools Serve The Public Good -- That's Why They Alone Deserve Taxpayer Support https://www.au.org/blogs/public-schools-public-good <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Public Schools Serve The Public Good -- That&#039;s Why They Alone Deserve Taxpayer Support</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 Jul 21, 2021 - 08:49</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/about/people/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%20at%20bus_0.jpg?h=a85030a4&amp;itok=keFnzAfy" width="1700" height="525" alt="school bus" title="school bus" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>It’s weird, but I sometimes think church-state conflict follows me even when I’m off the clock – and it happened again last week when my wife and I were vacationing in Virginia Beach. One morning at breakfast, my naturally gregarious wife fell into conversation with the man sitting at the table next to us. He turned out to be a teacher at a private religious school in West Virginia. We began discussing education policy, and it wasn’t long before he was expressing support for private school vouchers.</p> <p>I didn’t want to get into an argument as I was preparing to dig into my pancakes, but there was one thing he said that I felt I couldn’t let go: He asserted that people who choose to send their children to private schools are forced to pay for public schools they don’t use, and he opined that this is unfair.</p> <p>To my mind, this is one of the worst arguments used by voucher boosters. They really ought to abandon it. A moment’s thought demonstrates why they’re wrong: Government services are designed to help <em>everyone</em>; they build a decent society for all of us. And as Americans, it’s our civic duty to pitch in and help build a better society for our fellow citizens. You don’t get a rebate for the services you don’t use. It is selfish to suggest that you should.</p> <p>Let’s say you prefer to buy books online and build an in-home library. You’re still expected to pay taxes to support your local public library. Maybe you have your own swimming pool. Good for you – but the public pool at the nearby recreation center will still get a chunk of your taxes. You may own a car and never ride a public bus, but you’re still expected to pay taxes so those who do need buses have access to them.</p> <p>Public education benefits everyone, whether you directly use it or not. In most parts of the country, public schools are funded by property taxes, and every homeowner pays – even those who have no children or whose children are grown.  There’s a simple reason for this: It’s in society’s interest that our children be educated, and public schools are providing that for 90% of them (and remain available for the other 10% whose parents have decided to educate them elsewhere).</p> <p>Public schools take on a daunting task: educating the vast majority of our children – no matter their race, economic status, sexual orientation or religion. By law, they serve all students, including those with special needs and who face language barriers. Public schools, which are accountable to the people through democratically elected boards, focus on secular education, not imparting religious doctrine. Private schools can say none of these things, and that’s why public schools alone deserve public funding.</p> <p>We all have a stake in public education, whether we have children attending public schools or not. We will all be better off if there are more educated Americans to work toward improving our nation. When public schools succeed, we all succeed. That goal is only made more difficult when public schools’ funding is siphoned away through misguided voucher plans that serve a private, not a public, interest.     </p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issues field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Issues</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/taxpayer-funding-of-religion" hreflang="en">Taxpayer Funding Of Religion</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Tags</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/neo-vouchers" hreflang="en">neo-vouchers</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/public-education" hreflang="en">public education</a></div> </div> </div> Wed, 21 Jul 2021 12:49:39 +0000 boston 16926 at https://www.au.org A Real Head Scratcher: The European Court Of Justice Allows Companies To Ban Religious Wear https://www.au.org/blogs/ECJ-religious-garb <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">A Real Head Scratcher: The European Court Of Justice Allows Companies To Ban Religious Wear</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 Jul 20, 2021 - 08:45</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/about/people/ethan-magistro" hreflang="en">Ethan Magistro</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/muslim%20woman%20working.jpg?h=119335f7&amp;itok=iFrXaEju" width="1700" height="525" alt="Muslim woman" title="Muslim woman working" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>A <a href="https://www.euronews.com/2021/07/15/employers-can-ban-workers-from-wearing-visible-religious-signs-ecj-rules">recent ruling</a> by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has allowed employers to prohibit employees from wearing garments that indicate their political or religious beliefs. The ruling is not terribly surprising; much of Western Europe has implemented full or partial bans on head coverings in the past few years. Yet broad bans of religious garments tend to ignore people’s religious freedom. It is far more useful to find a middle path.</p> <p>According to <a href="https://www.pewforum.org/2019/07/15/a-closer-look-at-how-religious-restrictions-have-risen-around-the-world/">a report</a> by the Pew Research Center, government limitations on religious activity in Europe have increased significantly since 2007, with limitations in North and South America increasing at a similar pace. These limitations tend to <a href="https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/12/16/women-in-many-countries-face-harassment-for-clothing-deemed-too-religious-or-too-secular/">disproportionately affect</a> Muslims, and specifically Muslim women, who may wear either hijabs or  burqas in accordance with their beliefs.</p> <p>Some parts of Europe and the Western world, such as France and Quebec, Canada, have interpreted secularism in a way that curbs the use of religious garb. The United States honors secularism as well, but our approach to religious expression is different. Still, there has been controversy over head garb in the United States, most notably in the House of Representatives. With the election of U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Democrats in the House <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/headscarves-in-the-house-congress-considers-rule-change-for-religious-head">sought to reverse</a> a 181-year-old ban on hats. The ban had nothing to do with religion. Its origins are murky, but it might have been a reaction to hat-wearing traditions in the British parliament. It was partially reversed in 2019, allowing any religious head garb to be worn.</p> <p>The question of if or when religious wear should be curbed presents an interesting conundrum in the United States. Although it is important to indicate that the U.S. government is free of religious influence, it is equally important to defend citizens’ fundamental right to religious freedom, so long as it is not used to harm others. Americans United seeks to <a href="https://www.au.org/issues/religious-freedom">walk this line</a>. We understand that the golden mean the United States should strive for is to protect religious freedom but never allow it to be a license to discriminate against others. We also accept that in some applications, such as public schools, religious garb that presents proselytizing messages may be curtailed. In a commercial setting, <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/julyaugust-2015-church-state/people-events/supreme-court-rules-in-favor-of-muslim-in">religious garb may be permitted</a>, depending on context or circumstances.</p> <p>The ECJ has tried to strike a balance as well. The ban on religious wear can only occur if there is a “genuine need” on the part of the employer (for instance, if a school wants to indicate to parents that their children are being cared for by people without obvious religious affiliations). The ECJ also indicated that any ban must respect national legislation around freedom of religion. Nonetheless, critics have asserted that the measure will harshly affect Muslim women and perhaps spur anti-Islamic sentiment. </p> <p>While bans on head-coverings or other religious garb may come from an understandable place – such as trying to preserve secularism in government and education – sweeping prohibitions can ignore important nuances and infringe on other fundamental rights. Even British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who railed against Muslim religious garments in an acidic <a href="https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/08/05/denmark-has-got-wrong-yes-burka-oppressive-ridiculous-still/">2018 opinion article</a>, admitted that a ban on burqas is “not the answer.” That sentiment is still true today.</p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issues field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Issues</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/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/islam" hreflang="en">Islam</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/ilhan-omar" hreflang="en">Ilhan Omar</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/us-house-of-representatives" hreflang="en">U.S. House of Representatives</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/france" hreflang="en">France</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/canada" hreflang="en">canada</a></div> </div> </div> Tue, 20 Jul 2021 12:45:06 +0000 boston 16925 at https://www.au.org Christian Nationalists Are Hard At Work Rewriting The History Of The Jan. 6 Insurrection https://www.au.org/blogs/AFA-Jan-6 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Christian Nationalists Are Hard At Work Rewriting The History Of The Jan. 6 Insurrection</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 Jul 19, 2021 - 09:04</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/us%20capitol%20with%20fence.jpg?h=119335f7&amp;itok=SNrVRmMi" width="1700" height="525" alt="capitol with fence" title="fence at capitol " typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>The recent six-month anniversary of the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol was a time of sober reflection for most Americans. But for the Christian nationalist group American Family Association (AFA), it was something else: an opportunity to continue rewriting the narrative of what really happened on that fateful day.</p> <p><a href="https://onenewsnow.com/politics-govt/2021/07/15/sedition-flops-for-jan-6-rioters-but-many-still-behind-bars">A story issued last week</a> by the AFA’s fake news service OneNewsNow bemoaned the fact that some of the men and women who participated in the attack on the Capitol are still behind bars as they await trial. The piece claimed that the “insurrectionists,” which the AFA put in quotation marks as if to imply that’s not what they really were, “are languishing in solitary confinement in the nation’s capital.”</p> <p>This is the second time this summer that the AFA has run a story sympathetic to the mob that overran the Capitol, assaulted more than 140 police officers and did millions in damage to the most visible symbol of American democracy. As <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/july-august-2021-church-state-magazine/featured/sympathy-for-the-devils-christian">I reported</a> in the July-August issue of <em>Church &amp; State</em>, the AFA, which has a budget of $21 million annually and owns a string of radio stations to spread its poison, has been hard at work portraying the violent attack as no big deal and asserting that the people in jail awaiting trial are being treated “akin to Gestapo tactics or the KGB.”</p> <p>In the <em>Church &amp; State</em> story, I pointed out that the insurrectionists still behind bars are accused of committing the most serious crimes or were denied bail because they have extensive criminal records; thus, judges determined they were a threat to our nation. These are the people the AFA wants Americans to feel sorry for. Yet, the AFA, which poses as a pro-American, pro-family organization, remains silent about the police officers who were mauled and beaten by a mob whipped into a frenzy by President Donald Trump. They have nothing to say about out-of-control marauders, who, in service of Trump’s Big Lie, did <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/24/us/politics/capitol-riot-damage.html">tens of millions of dollars in damage</a> to the people’s house.</p> <p>I’ve closely monitored the Christian nationalists’ evolving reaction to the events of Jan. 6. It has been one lie after another. They started off denying the plain reality of what happened and tried to shift the blame to groups that had nothing to do with the attack (Blacks Lives Matter, Antifa, anarchists). When that failed, they embraced the “Oh, it wasn’t so bad” line that’s <a href="https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/554548-ron-johnson-jan-6-capitol-riot-was-largely-peaceful-not-an-insurrection">popular among some far-right Republicans</a>. They’ve now moved on to portraying the insurrectionists as victims. The next step is to lionize them and make them out as patriotic martyrs, <a href="https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/07/ashli-babbitt-january-6-insurrection-maga-martyr.html">something that has already started</a>.</p> <p>Plenty of journalists are <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/07/15/jan-6-i-alone-can-fix-it-book-excerpt/">writing the real story of Jan. 6</a>. That will help, but in a country where 15-20% of the population <a href="https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/meet-the-press/study-finds-nearly-one-five-americans-believe-qanon-conspiracy-theories-n1268722">believes the insane ramblings of the QAnon conspiracy theory</a>, it’s not enough. The AFA and its Christian nationalist allies, aided and abetted by far-right media, are trying to rewrite the history of Jan. 6. The only question that remains is if decent Americans who value the truth and respect the rule of law are going to let them get away with it.</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/afa" hreflang="en">AFA</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/religious-right-0" hreflang="en">Religious Right</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/us-capitol" hreflang="en">U.S. Capitol</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/donald-trump" hreflang="en">Donald Trump</a></div> </div> </div> Mon, 19 Jul 2021 13:04:32 +0000 boston 16924 at https://www.au.org The Towering Falsehoods Of Ken Ham https://www.au.org/blogs/Ken-Ham-Towering-Falsehoods <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">The Towering Falsehoods Of Ken Ham</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 Jul 15, 2021 - 10:10</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/GettyImages-484584044.jpg?h=94c4fbb4&amp;itok=jFgvoDeL" width="1700" height="525" alt="Noah&#039;s Ark" 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 is celebrating the fifth anniversary of Ark Encounter, a theme park in Grant County, Ky., based on an alleged replica of Noah’s Ark, by unveiling big plans for an expansion.</p> <p>During a <a href="https://www.grantky.com/content/ark-encounter-celebrates-5th-anniversary">recent interview with a Grant County newspaper</a>, Ham talked about his plans to add a Tower of Babel to the park. This attraction, based on a story that appears in <a href="https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis%2011%3A1-9&amp;version=NIV">Genesis 11:1-9</a>, will explain Ham’s view of how we ended up with so many languages. Bottom line: Look for more bad science. (Remember, folks, creationism is about more than just claims that the Earth is only 6,000 years old, humans and dinosaurs existed at the same time, the Grand Canyon is the result of the massive flood described in the Bible, etc. It’s a comprehensive, unscientific worldview that addresses, well, <em>everything</em>.)</p> <p>I recently received a press release from a PR agency Ham hired to blast the media with happy stories about his big boat. In the release, Ham carped that he’s had to work hard to respond to “the rumor that state money was used to build and open the Ark Encounter.”</p> <p>That’s not a rumor, it’s a fact. Journalists, bloggers and Americans United have compiled <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/ark-park-money">entire lists</a> of the <a href="https://rightingamerica.net/funding-ark-encounter-the-rest-of-the-story/">forms of taxpayer support</a> Ark Encounter received. But wait, there’s more! Ark Encounter received between $1 million and $2 million in federal aid under the original COVID-19 relief bill’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Blogger Hemant Mehta noted that even as Ham was pulling in a hefty PPP loan – which is really a grant because the federal government plans to forgive most of it – <a href="https://friendlyatheist.patheos.com/2020/07/07/ark-encounters-parent-company-received-more-than-1-million-in-ppp-loans/">he was sending emails to supporters</a> begging for contributions to save the Ark Park.</p> <p>To recap: Ham <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/october-2014-church-state/featured/rough-sailing">built the Ark Park on the backs of Kentucky taxpayers</a>. He <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/stormy-seas-discriminatory-hiring-practices-at-ky-ark-park-put-its-tax">denied jobs</a> to anyone who failed to agree with him on religion. He <a href="https://www.cincinnati.com/story/opinion/2020/02/24/opinion-ham-fleeced-town-gave-him-his-ark-encounter/4831987002/">stuck it to a small town</a> that had been wowed by Ham’s tales of an economic turnaround. These are inconvenient facts he continually denies.</p> <p>Now Ham wants to build a Tower of Babel. Will he stick the taxpayers with the tab for that too?</p> <p>Just to be clear, Ham can build whatever he wants <em>with his own money</em>. To many of us, Ham’s anti-science views, his attacks on LGBTQ people, his assaults on secular education and his overall medieval outlook are deplorable – which is exactly why we don’t want to underwrite them. (Lately Ham’s Answers in Genesis ministry <a href="https://answersingenesis.org/racism/three-biblical-problems-critical-race-theory/">has been on quite a tear about critical race theory</a>, the latest all-purpose bogeyman for white Christian nationalists.)</p> <p>When taxpayers were compelled to pay for Ham’s park, they were also made to subsidize his narrow theology and his hateful, intolerant and theocratic views. Many of us don’t want to subsidize that. To Ham we say clearly, believe what you want – but pay for its propagation yourself.</p> <p>P.S. For more on the unfortunate saga of Ham’s taxpayer-backed fundamentalist boondoggle, see the excellent documentary “<a href="https://www.pbs.org/independentlens/documentaries/we-believe-in-dinosaurs/">We Believe in Dinosaurs</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-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/kentucky" hreflang="en">Kentucky</a></div> <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> </div> Thu, 15 Jul 2021 14:10:02 +0000 LHayes 16923 at https://www.au.org