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Building Dependency: An Overlooked Danger Of Tax Aid To Religion

When I was a kid, our church decided it would be nice to have a social hall.

It was a pretty ambitious goal. We were a medium-sized congregation serving mostly blue-collar families in an economically depressed area. But the people sitting in the pews believed in the project and gave extra to support it. Kids like me even chipped in nickels and dimes. Read more

Bypassing Booth: Minn. Pastor Dodges IRS Investigation – For Now

A couple months ago, I blogged about a lively debate I attended about politics and the pulpit.

It was an afternoon bringing together people from the entire political spectrum. Participants on a panel, including AU Executive Director Barry W. Lynn, discussed a provision in federal tax law that prohibits tax-exempt, non-profit organizations – including religious institutions – from endorsing or opposing candidates. Read more

Secular Salutation: Georgia County Survives Non-Religious Invocation

I've been online today scanning news sites to see if Cobb County, Ga., has been struck by an earthquake, a hurricane or perhaps a plague of frogs. Apparently, this has not happened.

I'm surprised. Last night, a guy named Ed Buckner gave a secular invocation at a meeting of the Cobb County Commission. To hear some followers of the Religious Right tell it, if you dare to give any invocation that fails to mention Jesus Christ, look out! Your community will feel divine wrath.

I doubt Ed's invocation mentioned Jesus. He is, after all, the president of American Atheists. Read more

Palin's Parlay: What Lies Ahead For The Former Alaska Governor – And Her Religious Right Base?

Yesterday's newspapers were reminiscent of those heady days of fall 2008 – a time when the media and public obsessed over a little-known Alaska politician named Sarah Palin.

Palin stepped down from her position as governor of Alaska on Sunday. As I read news accounts of her resignation speech, it seemed her reasons for leaving the position were vague – but what's even more unclear are her plans for the future. Read more

Never on a Sunday?: Mandatory Closing Laws Make Some S.C. Merchants Feel Blue

My wife went to grad school in North Carolina. She wasn't much of a drinker (at least that's what she tells me now), but she and her roommate did enjoy a bottle of wine with dinner every so often.

On Monday through Saturday, they could buy a bottle of vino any time the grocery store was open. On Sunday, they had to wait until noon. My wife remembers being forced once to wait 15 minutes before she could check out a large grocery order because her shopping cart included a bottle of wine.

Welcome to the wacky world of blue laws! Read more

A Tale Of Two Cities (And Diagrams): Ten Commandments Battles Roil Kentucky And North Dakota

My roommate is a freshly minted high school teacher. Sometimes, while sitting together watching reruns of "Doogie Howser, MD.," I help her plan civics lessons for her students. If it weren't the middle of the summer, I would insist that she craft a Venn Diagram with her kids to teach about the separation of church and state. Read more

Bogus Billboards: Florida Council Peddles Religious Right Propaganda

Lies, lies and more lies.

That's what Floridians will see as they drive through Pinellas and Hillsborough counties near Tampa Bay, Fla., during the next six months.

A local fundamentalist group has decided to wage war on church-state separation by posting ten billboard advertisements that send the message that "America's government was made only for people who are moral and religious." Read more

'Family' Values?: Secretive C Street Band Is Wild And (Not So) Innocent

An otherwise non-descript house at 133 C St. S.E., in Washington, D.C., is getting a lot of attention lately. Last week I swung by to take a look at it myself.

What did I see? Not much. It's a red brick house with an American flag unfurled above the door and well-maintained shrubbery in the yard. So why all the fuss? Read more

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