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Arlington Advance: Wiccan Pentacle Placement Represents Religious Liberty Progress

Among the many memorial services at Arlington National Cemetery this Independence Day was a small gathering at the gravesites of Army Captain William O'Rourke and his wife, Jan Deanna.

Captain O'Rourke passed away 11 years ago and had a Christian cross engraved on his headstone. His wife's side of the marker, however, has remained blank since her death in 2005 because she was Wiccan. Read more

Portrait Of Unconstitutionality: La. Judge Defends Jesus Picture In Courthouse

A local judge in Slidell, La., says he has no intention of removing a religious display from his courthouse.

The ACLU of Louisiana sent a letter to the Slidell City Court on June 20, asking the clerk to remove a 16th century Russian Orthodox painting called "Christ the Savior" and its accompanying message, "To know peace, obey these laws." Read more

Flunking A Test: Vouchers Fail Again In D.C.

Republicans in Congress pushed a voucher plan aimed at students in Washington, D.C., through Congress late in 2004. The controversial plan was described as an "experiment" that would be subject to oversight to see if it was effective.

The first results are in. An objective study of students taking part in the program found no significant improvement in academic performance of the voucher students compared to students who remained in D.C.'s public schools. (As is common with voucher plans, most private schools taking part in the Washington program are religious.) Read more

Rain Of Error: Constitutional Drought In Alabama

Alabama is pretty dry these days – extremely dry, actually. The state is experiencing one of its worse droughts ever.

Situations like this are very frustrating. Evil villains in science fiction movies may have machines that can control the weather, but in real life there's not much we can do when it rains too little or too much.

But Alabama Gov. Bob Riley has an idea: He's asked the state's citizens to pray for rain. According to the Birmingham News, Riley issued a proclamation last week calling for an entire week of prayer. It began on Saturday. Read more

Rally Around The Wall: Pro-Separation Baptists Celebrate Religious Liberty

The Southern Baptist Convention's (SBC) shift to the far right is a familiar and disconcerting story. One of its most prominent voices, Richard Land, the SBC's top lobbyist in Washington, is widely seen as an influential player into today's Religious Right movement and a strident opponent of church-state separation.

But the SBC does not speak for all Baptists. Baptist bodies in the United States are diverse, and even many Southern Baptists oppose the strident stands taken by Land. Read more

'Wall Of Separation': A Carefully Constructed Edifice Of Misinformation

Americans United has been critical of a program being offered to PBS stations called "Wall of Separation."

We became suspicious about the production because the film's director and writer, Brian Godawa, is a militant theocrat with close ties to Christian Reconstructionism, the most extreme faction of the Religious Right. He and his allies believe that Christians of his stripe should take control, not only of the government, but of all aspects of society – including the entertainment industry. Read more

A Ruse By Any Other Name: ISU Rechristens Its Proposed Football Chaplain

Iowa State University (ISU) football coach Gene Chizik promised the university's Fellowship of Christian Athletes last April that he would request permission to hire a chaplain for the football team. Chizik suggested he wanted to take the step because of his Christian beliefs and relationship with Christ.

ISU Athletic Director Jamie Pollard agreed with the plan, saying the school should provide a "spiritual guide" for student athletes. Read more

Diversity On Capitol Hill: Hindu Leader To Offer Opening Prayer In Senate

Americans United does not support taxpayer-funded chaplains reciting prayers before meetings of government bodies – and that includes the U.S. Congress. Washington, D.C., is full of houses of worship where members can go for spiritual guidance. Silent prayer is also an option.

But a poorly reasoned Supreme Court decision from 1983 (Marsh v. Chambers) means we're stuck with legislative prayers and even taxpayer-supported legislative chaplains. If we must have them, a little diversity would do the nation good. Read more

No Foul Here: Obama's Appearance At Church Event Doesn't Violate Federal Tax Law

Some people are questioning why Americans United has not asked the Internal Revenue Service to look into the appearance of Democratic presidential contender Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) at the United Church of Christ (UCC) gathering in Hartford, Conn., over the weekend. Read more