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The official Americans United blog on legislation and activities of lawmakers.

Voucher Watch

Private school vouchers have been popping up on both the federal and state level. Voucher programs and tuition tax credit programs use taxpayer money to send students to private and religious schools, violating our country’s separation of church and state. These programs also lack accountability, regulation, and civil rights protections that would normally be present in public schools.

Federal Level Read more

CARD Coalition Priorities for Faith-Based Office

On Wednesday, June 26th, Americans United, along with 31 other members of the Coalition Against Religious Discrimination (CARD) sent a letter to Melissa Rogers, the new Executive Director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. The letter outlines CARD’s policy priorities and positions regarding partnerships between the government and faith-based organizations, including our opposition to federally funded hiring discrimination. CARD is looking forward to working with Ms. Read more

National Defense Dogma

The House Armed Services Committee’s markup of the National Defense Reauthorization Act (NDAA) generated a lot of buzz last week in the church-state world.  People were talking about the debate over Senator Rob Andrews’ (D-NJ) amendment, which would have recognized non-theistic military chaplains.  And, people should have been talking—opponents of the amendment said some shocking things about non Read more

Church-State Separation Battles Are Bigger in Texas

The Texas 2013 session was better than expected, considering several pieces of legislation that potentially could have threatened the religious liberty of Texas citizens. Thankfully, most of this legislation failed to pass. Here are some interesting bills that caught the eyes of us here at Americans United: Read more

Walking in Memphis

Roughly half of the states have adjourned their 2013 regular sessions so far, and among those states, Tennessee was one that kept AU quite busy. The legislature introduced numerous bills that threatened religious liberty in various – and creative – ways. Read more

No, Your Religion Should Not Allow You to Disregard Civil Rights Laws

People interpret the phrase “religious freedom” wildly differently. We believe it simply means being able to individually choose to practice or support any religion – or no religion – with free will. Indeed, legislation helps ensure religious rights are protected in many situations: to ensure a prisoner has access to kosher meals, to avoid forcing an employee to work on the Sabbath if other options are available, or to fight against the application of zoning laws in ways that forbid building mosques, but not other houses of worship, in certain areas. Read more

Living on a Prayer

It seems silly to have to reiterate this, but legislators around the country seem to forget: students in public schools are indeed allowed to engage in student-led, voluntarily prayer and read the bible when not disruptive to class. Any legislation that seeks to “clarify” an individual’s right to do so is often unnecessary and creates more problems for religious liberty than it solves. Read more