On the whole, Canadians seem pretty well behaved. So during a vacation visit to Montreal last weekend, I was surprised to find the province of Quebec in the middle of a church-state brouhaha. Read more
I frequently see people driving around in cars, trucks, SUVs, etc. who want me to know about their strong Christian faith. Their bumper stickers proclaim it, as do their little Christian fish symbols. I even saw a guy this weekend who felt compelled to make a giant fish symbol out of reflective tape for his door.
It's fine with me. It's your car, so go ahead and use it to spread whatever message you like.
But understand that the government can't help you. Thus, putting a cross on a state license plate goes too far. Read more
Yesterday my colleague Joe Conn noted that some people in Louisiana are having problems with the teaching of evolution in public schools. Ben Nevers, a Democratic member of the House of Representatives there, is pushing legislation to allow the use of "supplemental materials" that question evolution in the classroom. Read more
Is the Louisiana legislature about to make a tremendous mistake?
It sure looks like it. Despite frantic objections from public school teachers, the scientific community and advocates of church-state separation, the House education committee yesterday approved unanimously a Religious Right bill designed to undercut the teaching of evolution. Read more
The Internal Revenue Service has announced that it is closing its investigation of the First Southern Baptist Church of Buena Park, Calif., a congregation that Americans United believed stepped over the line into partisan politics.
Americans United in August asked the IRS to investigate the church after its pastor, the Rev. Wiley Drake issued an e-mail press release on church letterhead endorsing Mike Huckabee for president. Drake later repeated the endorsement on his internet radio show. Read more
The U.S. Supreme Court isn't as diligent as it used to be on protecting taxpayers from being compelled to support religious schools and other ministries. In 2002, the high court upheld Ohio's school voucher plan, even though most of the money goes to sectarian schools.
That's why state constitutions are so important. They have become the new front-line defense in the battle to prevent people from being forced to support sectarian education. Read more
Is trust in God a religious concept? Most fair-minded Americans would say yes.
Yet the Lancaster, Calif., City Council doesn't seem to think so. Members of that governmental body recently approved unanimously a resolution ordering the display of "In God We Trust" on the back wall of the council chambers.
According to the Los Angeles Daily News, council members denied that their action had anything to do with religion. Read more
The California Supreme Court decision in favor of same-sex marriage has opened an important discussion about the relationship between religion and government. The justices in the court majority made it clear that they were ruling in favor of civil-marriage equality and not religion. Religious communities will remain free to perform same-sex marriages or not, as their theology dictates.
A lot of people rightly see that as an important expression of judicial respect for the separation of church and state. Read more
Florida's upcoming vote on private school vouchers and other forms of aid to religion is starting to attract national attention – and early signs are that this is going to be a hard-fought battle.
The Washington Post ran a story on the fight today. Although several Florida newspapers have covered the issue in depth, this is the first piece I'm aware of that puts it in national context. Read more
A few days ago, the Alliance Defense Fund announced a plan to persuade clergy to defy federal tax law and preach about candidates from the pulpit the weekend of Sept. 27-28.
The ADF claims that religious leaders are being gagged because they can't tell their congregants which candidates to vote for or against. As we've pointed out before, there are a number of problems with this claim. For starters, many people sitting in the pews aren't interested in receiving this type of advice from pastors. They can decide for themselves whom to vote for, thank you very much. Read more