My name is Bill Mefford, and I am the new Faith Outreach Specialist for Americans United. I started in mid-March so I am still getting my feet wet, but I look forward to working with AU members as we mobilize faith communities to ensure that religious expression is maintained for all and not used to harm others.
This blog is often the bearer of bad news – we may report about a public school district trying to teach creationism, an attack on LGBT rights by a Religious Right group, an effort by a large and powerful church to secure tax funding for its private school system, etc.
But today’s story is good news. It may, in fact, even warm your heart a little.
Let’s set the stage a bit: In April of 2013, a senior at George Washington High School in Charleston, W.Va., was dismayed after school officials invited a speaker to come in and talk about “God’s plan for sexual purity.”
A Kansas-based creationist group has lost a legal challenge to science education standards in public schools. Citizens for Objective Public Education (COPE) filed suit against the Kansas Board of Education in 2013 to block implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards because, COPE asserted, they encouraged schools to promote atheism to children.
A group of parents in Colorado has taken the audacious step of demanding the right to spend taxpayer money on tuition at religious schools.
More and more Americans are moving away from rigid, fundamentalist denominations or adopting a secular outlook, but the Religious Right shows no evidence of changing its tactics. A few of the movement’s biggest stars urged the faithful to enmesh themselves even further in the political process at a recent North Carolina conference.
One of the far right’s favorite personalities, Glenn Beck, recently had a discussion on his show about the future of Christian “persecution” in the United States. His guest for that segment, an evangelical leader named Samuel Rodriguez, said he thinks Christians will soon be sent off to jail just for practicing their faith.
Late last month, attorneys at Americans United sent a letter to officials in the small town of Albia, Iowa.
We got word that county and city officials there had earmarked tax funds and provided public land for a war memorial whose central feature is a row of 21 crosses. AU attorneys wanted to let them know that this wasn’t such a good idea.
We had hoped to resolve this matter in private, outside of the glare of the media spotlight, but someone in town gave our letter to the local newspaper, the Union-Republican.
There’s no question alleged Planned Parenthood shooter Robert Dear Jr., committed his bloody act due to his belief that abortion is murder. But recently unsealed courtroom documents reveal just how much Dear idolized a violent faction of the Religious Right.
Officials in Los Angeles County, Calif., did their best to force a religious symbol onto the county seal – until a federal judge wrecked their plans.
Last week, a U.S. district court said the county seal cannot contain a Latin cross, a symbol that was narrowly approved by the county board of supervisors two years ago.