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Louie, Louie: Rep. Gohmert, You Need to Drop This Capitol Obsession

Prodded by the Religious Right, some members of Congress have developed an unhealthy obsession over the displays in the U.S. Capitol Building.

You might recall the recent flap over the new Capitol Visitor Center (CVC). The CVC is a $621 million, state-of-the-art facility that helps visitors to the U.S. Capitol understand the history of the structure and how the federal government works. Read more

No Credence: Carpetbagger Crank Klingenschmitt Shouldn't Get Stuck In Lodi

Lodi, Calif., is a city of about 62,000 residents between Sacramento and Stockton. I've never been there, but Wikipedia tells me the town is known for its wine production – it's the "Zinfandel Capital of the World." The band Creedence Clearwater Revival once penned a tune called "Stuck in Lodi."

But lately Lodi has been in the news for another reason: a nasty spat over prayers before city council meetings. Read more

Falwell Fast One?: Lynchburg Preacher's Sectarian House Prayer Doesn't Track Chaplain's Online Version

This weekend, for the first time since I have lived here, I found myself at a Washington-area Hindu temple.

That's because my parents were in town, and when my mom visits, it's on the top of her to-do list. So to satisfy my mother, and my religious quota for a while, I spent 10 to 15 minutes at a local temple.

I may not spend much time praying, but I still consider myself a Hindu and a follower of the faith. I don't need to listen to prayer all the time or have images of my faith displayed all around to know that. Read more

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