I've been working as a communications assistant at Americans United for Separation of Church and State for just about a week now, and already I have learned a lot. TV preacher Pat Robertson, for example, informed me (along with all the viewers of his "700 Club") that he is not a gynecologist, and Religious Right radio host Janet Folger likened my new boss, the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, to a Nazi Brownshirt. Read more
Should Transcendental Meditation (TM) be taught in America's public schools?
That's a question that Newsweek has dived into. The magazine reports that there is a "small but growing movement" to bring TM into U.S. classrooms.
For the uninitiated, Newsweek notes that TM is the trademarked name of a meditation technique created by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in 1958. It is a practice inherited from India and made hip by high-profile devotees like the Beatles in the 1960s. Read more
Are American military personnel misusing their presence in Iraq to proselytize on behalf of Christianity? That's the troubling accusation reported today by McClatchy Newspapers.
According to reporters Jamal Naji and Leila Fadel, residents of the Iraqi city of Fallujah say Marines are distributing coins that urge conversion to Christianity. Read more
On the whole, Canadians seem pretty well behaved. So during a vacation visit to Montreal last weekend, I was surprised to find the province of Quebec in the middle of a church-state brouhaha. Read more
I frequently see people driving around in cars, trucks, SUVs, etc. who want me to know about their strong Christian faith. Their bumper stickers proclaim it, as do their little Christian fish symbols. I even saw a guy this weekend who felt compelled to make a giant fish symbol out of reflective tape for his door.
It's fine with me. It's your car, so go ahead and use it to spread whatever message you like.
But understand that the government can't help you. Thus, putting a cross on a state license plate goes too far. Read more
Yesterday my colleague Joe Conn noted that some people in Louisiana are having problems with the teaching of evolution in public schools. Ben Nevers, a Democratic member of the House of Representatives there, is pushing legislation to allow the use of "supplemental materials" that question evolution in the classroom. Read more
Is the Louisiana legislature about to make a tremendous mistake?
It sure looks like it. Despite frantic objections from public school teachers, the scientific community and advocates of church-state separation, the House education committee yesterday approved unanimously a Religious Right bill designed to undercut the teaching of evolution. Read more
The Internal Revenue Service has announced that it is closing its investigation of the First Southern Baptist Church of Buena Park, Calif., a congregation that Americans United believed stepped over the line into partisan politics.
Americans United in August asked the IRS to investigate the church after its pastor, the Rev. Wiley Drake issued an e-mail press release on church letterhead endorsing Mike Huckabee for president. Drake later repeated the endorsement on his internet radio show. Read more
The U.S. Supreme Court isn't as diligent as it used to be on protecting taxpayers from being compelled to support religious schools and other ministries. In 2002, the high court upheld Ohio's school voucher plan, even though most of the money goes to sectarian schools.
That's why state constitutions are so important. They have become the new front-line defense in the battle to prevent people from being forced to support sectarian education. Read more
Is trust in God a religious concept? Most fair-minded Americans would say yes.
Yet the Lancaster, Calif., City Council doesn't seem to think so. Members of that governmental body recently approved unanimously a resolution ordering the display of "In God We Trust" on the back wall of the council chambers.
According to the Los Angeles Daily News, council members denied that their action had anything to do with religion. Read more