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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

Mixing Religion And Politics: Presidential Candidates Face Inappropriate Religious Test

The independent radio program "Interfaith Voices" yesterday aired its first in a series of discussions on the role of religion in the 2008 presidential election. We're still six months away from the first state primary, but religion is already becoming a political battle ground for both parties.       Read more

Head Start, Fresh Start: Congress Rejects Religious Bias In Popular Children's Program

Let's say you belong to a mainline religious denomination. You've been working for the local Head Start program provided by a Baptist church for five years. You've been highly rated at your job. The kids like you, and the parents think you're terrific.

But one day you go to work and are told you're being fired. The reason? You aren't a Baptist. You are shown the door – and even though Head Start is a taxpayer-funded program, you have no recourse.

Outrageous, right? Such a thing could never happen in America, right? Think again. It almost did. Read more

Critical Comment: A Response To Some Of AU's Opponents

Recently, two critics attacked Americans United and accused our organization of hypocrisy. This is a serious charge. Both critics deserve an answer.

Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council issued an e-mail bulletin yesterday accusing me of "cherry-picking" when it comes to the issue of church intervention in partisan politics. Read more

PBS Punts: Ombudsman Admits Church-State Program Is Biased, But Downplays Problem

Recently I wrote about PBS's decision to carry a Religious Right pseudo-documentary attacking the concept of church-state separation.

PBS's ombudsman, Michael Getler, devoted a column to the controversy on June 15.

There is good news and bad news. Getler admits that the show, "The Wall of Separation," is clearly slanted toward opponents of the church-state wall. Read more