More than 40 years ago, Roy Torcaso was appointed a notary public in Maryland. When it came time for the swearing in, Torcaso refused to take the oath because it contained a reference to God. Torcaso, an atheist, said that would violate his freedom of conscience.
Maryland officials decided to go to the mat. They pointed to a provision in the Maryland Constitution that says public office is open to anyone willing to make a "declaration of belief in the existence of God." Read more
Let's not even entertain the notion that lawmakers could one day in the far-off future stop dishing out pork to win over voters. It's just too much to hope for.
But blocking the shoveling of tax dollars to churches is a cause worth fighting. That's because the First Amendment and many, if not all, state constitutions prohibit public funding of religion. And until the theocrats take over, we have church-state separation in this country. Read more
I like PBS. I really do. So I'm deeply troubled about a church-state program being rolled out on the network this month.
"The Wall of Separation" is a production of Boulevard Pictures, a California outfit that describes itself as "a motion picture production company committed to bringing moviegoers high-quality stories from the world's most innovative filmmakers—films that bring hope, inspire us to the good, and that show us what the human spirit can attain." Read more
Presidential hopefuls are in a frenzy this year to win support from "people of faith." Political strategists tell them that support from "values voters" is crucial, and candidates are willing, it seems, to beg, steal and borrow to get that backing. Read more
Is there too much talk about religion in this year's presidential race?
On Tuesday, three Democratic candidates appeared at an event sponsored by Jim Wallis' Sojourners. Billed as a forum on "Faith, Values and Poverty" and televised on CNN, the discussion featured questions about a few political issues but also religious inquiries of a rather personal nature. Read more
Yesterday "The Wall of Separation" noted that the Internal Revenue Service has issued a new report on questionable political activity by non-profit groups and a new revenue ruling giving guidance in this area.
The IRS is once again reminding non-profits that they may not legal intervene in partisan campaigns by endorsing or opposing candidates. Over the past few years, the IRS has repeatedly issued reports and warnings like this. Read more
The pressure on houses of worship to expend resources in support of political campaigns has intensified over many years now even in the face of ramped-up efforts by the federal government to curb illegal church-based politicking. Read more
Malaysia's highest federal court earlier this week refused to recognize the conversion of a Muslim-born woman to Christianity. The panel ruled 2-1 that the decision was beyond the secular court's discretion.
Lina Joy, 43, converted from Islam to Roman Catholicism in 1998. Her troubles began shortly thereafter when she tried to change her religious affiliation on her national identification card. Because Islam requires adherents to marry within the faith, Joy would not be allowed to wed her Catholic fiancée if she was registered as a Muslim. Read more