This week, the U.S. Government Accountability Office, an independent agency that works for Congress and investigates how the federal government spends taxpayer money, released a new report on private school voucher programs. The report found that as private school voucher programs continue to spread throughout the states, taxpayers are contributing more and more money each year to programs that are plagued with problems.
A Mississippi congressman mailed a Bible to each of his fellow representatives last Friday. In a letter enclosed with the Bibles, U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.) wrote that the tomes are intended to provide guidance for public policy.
“Our staffs provide us with policy memos, statistics and recommendations that help us make informed decisions. However, I find that the best advice comes through meditating on God’s Word,” Palazzo wrote. “Please find a copy of the Holy Bible to help guide you in your decision-making.”
Yesterday before the government shut down, famous scientists Steven Pinker and Richard Dawkins made a foray to Capitol Hill and spoke to House and Senate staff.
The events, sponsored by the Secular Coalition for America, covered a range of topics. Not all of them were relevant to Americans United’s work, but some, such as the teaching of evolution in public schools and the threat to science posed by the Religious Right, were dead on.
Washington is abuzz with preparations for Monday’s inauguration. A number of events, private and public, are taking place.
Among them is something called the Presidential Inaugural Prayer Breakfast (PIPB), which takes place Monday morning at the Washington Marriott Wardman Park Hotel.
Despite its name, this is not an official inaugural event. It’s sponsored by a variety of fundamentalist Christian groups and “messianic” Jews. Featured guests include TV preacher Pat Robertson, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and Joseph Farah, founder of the website WorldNetDaily.
It wasn’t that long ago that the religious make-up of the U.S. Congress consisted of just three groups: Protestants, Catholics and a small number of Jews.
Every now and then, a member would list his or her religion as “other,” or would decline to answer the question. Generally speaking, though, Congress was a bastion of the nation’s majority faiths.
Americans don’t agree on much, but one thing pretty much everyone can agree on is that Congress is not a very popular institution right now. A recent poll found that only 8 percent of us think Congress is doing a good job.
Americans United’s Legislative Department works with members of Congress and knows that there are lots of good men and women serving in that body. So what accounts for this?
Of all the things Congress should and could be spending time on, a resolution celebrating the influence of the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible is certainly not one of them.
It's always nice when we can end the week on a high note. News reports indicate that Congress seems to be on board with adding new regulations to the school voucher scheme in the District of Columbia and eventually closing it entirely.
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.