Three Arkansas counties have refused to drop ordinances that ban anti-gay discrimination, despite a new state law designed to block them from enforcing the laws. The Associated Press (AP) reports that Little Rock, Hot Springs and Pulaski County are keeping the ordinances; a fourth municipality, Eureka Springs, has not yet reached a decision. Read more
The Tea Party and other far-right groups speak often of their love for the Constitution. But for all their talk about America’s foundational document, many of these zealots understand our laws about as well as an average kindergartner. That is why it’s always a pleasure when a political leader rejects these stilted views. Read more
Legislators in Indiana have proposed a fix to their controversial “religious freedom” bill (RFRA), and it’s certainly a step forward for LGBT rights. The amendment, which still awaits approval from Governor Mike Pence, would prevent small businesses from using the RFRA to discriminate in many ways. Read more
Eight states still have provisions in their constitutions that either bar atheists outright from holding public office or require people to believe certain things about God and religion before they can be elected.
These provisions can’t be enforced. They were declared invalid by the U.S. Supreme Court in a 1961 ruling in the case of Torcaso v. Watkins. Yet they linger on, a testament to the bigotry of bygone days. Read more
An Arkansas woman has declared her gun range a “Muslim-free zone.” Jan Morgan, proprietor of The Gun Cave Indoor Firing Range, announced the change on the business’ Facebook page; as justification, she cited the “strange behavior” of two recent patrons Morgan assumed to be of Middle Eastern descent.
Texas legislators got the bright idea in 2007 to pass legislation encouraging public school districts to begin offering courses about the Bible. Although objective academic study of religion is constitutionally permissible in public schools, Americans United was suspicious. Read more
Next month marks the 49th anniversary of the first U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down officially sponsored prayer in public schools. The decision in Engel v. Vitale was issued on June 25, 1962.
The case is nearly half a century old, so it’s not like it’s fresh news. It’s always something of a surprise, then, when word gets out about teachers who decide to openly defy the Constitution. Read more