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Monumental Mistake: Calif. City’s Memorial Doesn’t Honor All Veterans

The municipal leaders of Lake Elsinore, Calif., decided they wanted to honor local veterans with a special monument in front of a local baseball stadium.

No problem there. The southern California city of about 51,000 people has produced its share of veterans, and giving them special recognition is a nice idea.

Unfortunately, the way the city chose to go about it was not so good. The original design was for a black granite marker depicting a soldier kneeling in front of a cross. Read more

Yoga Lesson: Calif. Court Says School Did Not Violate Church-State Separation With Relaxation Program

Earlier this year, an attorney affiliated with a small Religious Right legal group called the National Center for Law and Policy filed a lawsuit in a California court on behalf of some parents in Encinitas who opposed a yoga program in the public schools. Read more

High Noon At The High Court: Supreme Court Takes Up Marriage Equality

I was fortunate enough to snag a seat in the press gallery for the oral argument before the U.S. Supreme Court this morning in the Proposition 8 case, Hollingsworth v. Perry.

Prop. 8 was narrowly approved by California voters in 2008. It added a ban on same-sex marriage to the state constitution. Opponents are challenging it in court, asserting that it violates the rights of gays and lesbians who wish to marry. Read more

‘Tis The Season To Be Cranky: Religious Right Gears Up New Round Of ‘War On Christmas’ Claims

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving – which means it’s time for the Religious Right to start carping about the so-called “war on Christmas.”

Actually, there have already been several developments in this alleged war. As an unwilling combatant, I’d like to give you a little round-up of the action so far. Read more

A Tale Of Two Cities: N.J. And Calif. Towns Take Different Approaches On Prayer

I was up bright and early Saturday morning to appear on Fox News Channel. Our topic was a perennial Fox favorite: prayers before government meetings.

It seems the borough council of Point Pleasant Beach, N.J., has been opening its meetings with the Our Father, the Roman Catholic version of the Lord’s Prayer, since the 1990s. A lawsuit was filed, and the council agreed to stop. Read more

Melee In Modesto: California Community Debates Creationism In Science Class

It’s the debate that never ends – thanks to an aggressive minority that insists religious beliefs belong in the science classroom.

California public school teacher Mark Ferrante belongs in that group. According to the Modesto Bee, Ferrante recently announced that he planned to teach the latest variant of creationism, “intelligent design” (ID), alongside evolution at Modesto’s Roosevelt Junior High, sparking quite the community discussion. Read more

Judges And The Ballot Box: Religious Right Intervention In Judicial Election Sparks Controversy

California seems to be the breeding ground for lots of new ideas – some good and some not so good.

Back in the early 1990s, Religious Right activists in the Golden State got it into their heads to promote “stealth candidates.” The idea was that fundamentalist Christians would run for local office stressing themes like low taxation and fiscal responsibility. They kept their extreme views on social issues hidden. Read more

The Mayor’s Mistake: California Official Should Apologize For ‘Christian Community’ Comment

Mayor R. Rex Parris of Lancaster, Calif., is laboring under the delusion that his city is an officially “Christian community.” Americans United is trying to set him straight.

Parris sparked controversy a few days ago when, during a state of the city address, he remarked, “We’re growing a Christian community, and don’t let anybody shy away from that.”

Parris went on to insist that ministers should have the right to open meetings of the city council using sectarian references, such as “in Jesus’ name.” Read more

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