A few years ago, I took part in a panel discussion on church-state issues at a Seventh-day Adventist church in Takoma Park, Md. During the question-and-answer session, an audience member asked why the Christian owner of a business should be expected to serve LGBT people.
When you work at a place like Americans United, you have to be prepared for people who feel compelled to write in and tell you why you’re all wrong. Some do it politely, but many more don’t.
Sometimes the reactions we get are funny. I’ll never forget the man who emailed us a few years ago after I appeared on the Fox News Channel. He not only disagreed with what I said, he made fun of me for wearing a hairpiece! (I hate to break it to you, pal, but my mop is 100 percent real.)
You may have noticed yesterday that American United’s attorneys succeeded in their efforts to stop a public school in Texas from mandating official prayers as part of graduation.
It’s the first day of December, which means Christmas is coming up soon – and you know what that means: Yep, it’s time for the Religious Right and its allies to celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace by lying about our public schools.
The tiresome pattern works like this: Someone tells a wild story about Christmas being banned in a public school. Religious Right legal groups get outraged. The Fox News Channel reports it without bothering to check if it’s true. Far-right bloggers have a field day.
Recently, the Fox News Channel rang up the Rev. Barry Lynn, AU's executive director, to discuss what he thinks about reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools.
Since they asked, he answered.
"The Pledge of Allegiance creates a constitutional problem," he said. "You have to tell students they can opt out."
For some reason, this statement has generated some controversy – as if it is so reprehensible to want to educate students about their rights!
The partisan pugilists over at Fox News Channel have been howling about President Barack Obama's insistence that America is a pluralistic nation that respects all faiths.
Obama, you may recall, said during his recent visit to Turkey that the United States is "a secular country that is respectful of religious freedom, respectful of rule of law, respectful of freedom...."