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Earmark Of The Beast: Behind-The-Scenes Lobbying Collars Religious Pork From Congress

Religious Right lore holds that religious groups in America are treated like second-class citizens. They are scorned and relegated to the back of the public policy bus.

But like so many things portrayed as "conventional wisdom," this claim about religion in the United States is false. In fact, religious organizations are quickly becoming savvy at playing the lobbying game in Washington, D.C., and are increasingly tapping the federal purse for millions in taxpayer support. Read more

Flunking A Religious Test: Public Office Is Not Limited To 'People Of Faith'

The Rev. Al Sharpton found himself in a bit of scrape recently when, during a debate with pundit Christopher Hitchens, Sharpton seemed to say that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints aren't really people of faith.

Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination, came up at one point. Sharpton said, "As for the one Mormon running for office, those that really believe in God will defeat him anyway, so don't worry about that. That's a temporary situation." Read more

Satan In Utah: Religious Resolution Sparks Devilish Disturbance At GOP Convention

Last month's Utah Republican Convention came to a disturbing and emotional close when a "Resolution opposing Satan's plan to destroy the U.S. by stealth invasion" was laid upon the table.

The resolution was proposed by Legislative District 65 Chairman Don Larsen. It began with the biblical story of Satan's fall from grace found in Revelation 12:9: "Whereas, 'And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.' Read more

Coercion In Kentucky: State-Funded Children's Home Pushed Religion On Kids

The Louisville Courier-Journal recently brought to light a fundamental problem with "faith-based" initiatives. Government partnerships with religious social service providers inevitably force taxpayers to fund religion.

A prime example is the Kentucky state government's relationship with Kentucky Baptist Homes for Children (KBHC). Both are currently accused of allowing public money to fund religious indoctrination and coercion. Read more

Teacher Gets An 'F': Appeals Court Affirms Right Of Public School To Stop Classroom Proselytism

Public school faculty are expected to devote their energies to teaching whatever subject they have been assigned, not engaging in efforts to change the religious views of their students.

Most teachers follow this rule and are happy to do so. They recognize that parents have the right to control the religious upbringing of their children and have no desire to interfere in that process.

But occasionally a bad apple surfaces. When that happens, it's up to school officials to make sure the classroom remains a place for teaching, not preaching. Read more

Monkey Business: Are Conservative Positions On Origins Finally Evolving?

We entered the 21st Century a few years back, but sometimes it's easy to assume we're still stuck in the 19th.

One of those moments occurred last week during the first Republican presidential debate. Participants were asked if any of them do not believe in evolution, the scientific theory that is the cornerstone of biology. Three hands went up. Read more

Hateful Lies: Religious Right Hysteria Fails to Kill Hate Crimes Bill

The House of Representatives yesterday passed the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007 (H.R. 1592). The bill's 237-180 approval marked one of the Religious Right's most spectacular failings in recent memory.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports on the Religious Right's lobbying blitz to defeat H.R. 1592, a proposal movement leader Rev. Lou Sheldon dubbed the "Pro-Homosexual/Drag Queen 'Hate Crime' Bill." Read more

Valuable Vision: Verplanck's Smack-Down Of Government-Backed Prayer

Today is the National Day of Prayer (NDP). Elsewhere on Americans United's Web site, you can read a press release that gives our opinion of this day. (We don't think much of it. We have nothing against prayer but believe it's not the business of government to tell people when, how and where to do it.)

In previous years, we've used the NDP to remind Americans of how two stalwarts of religious liberty – Thomas Jefferson and James Madison – opposed official prayer proclamations. Rather than rehash that again, this year we'll offer something a little different. Read more

When 'Equal' Isn't: Bush Administration Seeks Special Rights For 'Faith-Based' Groups

President George W. Bush is imploring Congress to give religious groups special privileges under the Improving Head Start Act of 2007 (H.R. 1429). The president says religious groups need to be treated "equally," by being the only groups allowed to discriminate against Head Start teachers and volunteers.

The House is expected to vote on the bill today. It would reauthorize the popular preschool program for low-income children. Read more