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Unholy Union: Why The Government Must Never Promote Theology

Voters in three states – Maine, Maryland and Washington – approved marriage equality at the ballot box last month. Speculation now holds that Illinois may soon join the growing list of jurisdictions that allow same-sex marriage. Read more

Standing Down: Federal Court Denies Taxpayer Challenge To Funding Of Giant Cross

It’s frustrating when government officials divert taxpayer dollars for religious purposes. But it’s really exasperating when church-state separation activists are denied the right to challenge that funding in court.

Yet increasingly, that is what’s happening. Read more

Foster Care Fallout: Ill. Church Leaders Give Up Fight Over Access To Taxpayer Funding

One of the problems with “faith-based” initiatives is that some religious groups are happy to take taxpayer money but don’t want to provide a full range of services to everyone. Read more

With Charity For Some?: Illinois Court Rejects Catholic Agency’s ‘Right’ To Discriminate With Public Funds

We’ve had a welcome slew of court victories for church-state separation as of late.

Most recently, a state court in Illinois has rejected a lawsuit brought by Catholic Charities. The Catholic agency wanted to continue receiving government contracts for adoption services but still discriminate by refusing to place children with couples in civil unions. Read more

Bald Knob Burden: Must Illinois Taxpayers Bear The Cross?

Americans United’s attorneys have been especially busy recently, and I can promise that it will continue to be that way throughout the summer.

With so much going on, some of their work sometimes doesn’t get the attention it deserves. That happened with a friend-of-the-court brief that AU filed last week regarding the Illinois legislature’s funding of a gigantic cross near Alto Pass, Ill. Read more

Licensed To Ill.?: Catholic Charities Wants To Get Public Funds And Still Discriminate

For the past couple of days, Illinois Catholic Charities has been causing quite a stir.

The publicly funded religious agency, which provides foster-care and adoption services, wants to be exempt from placing children with same-sex couples. As of June 1, Illinois grants same-sex couples the right to form civil unions and, therefore, the right to jointly adopt. Read more

When Silence Speaks Volumes: Illinois Law Promotes Prayer, And The Court Knows It

When the “moment of silence” bill first came up for vote in the Illinois legislature years ago, some House members sang a song on the floor to the tune of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Sounds of Silence.” It went:

Hello, school prayer, our old friend

It’s time to vote on you again

In our school house without warning

You seek a moment in the morning.

The words made very clear these legislators’ intent in proposing the measure: to bring government-sponsored prayer back into the public schools. Read more

The Old Rugged Tourist Attraction?: Public Funding Of Illinois Cross Restoration Sparks Lawsuit

For years, we’ve heard the Religious Right and its allies assert that the cross is a secular symbol, not a religious one, in order to get around the Constitution and keep Christian displays on public land.

We’ve always thought that argument was pretty ridiculous, but Religious Right activists keep trying. Here’s their latest proposal:  a cross is not a religious symbol, it’s a tourist attraction. Read more

Twitter Jitters: Ill. Congressman’s Bible Tweets Raise Church-State Worries

If I lived in southern Illinois and wanted a lesson in Christianity, like most people, I’d consult a Christian pastor, priest or theologian.

I definitely wouldn’t think to consult U.S. Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) or any other politician for that matter. Yet Shimkus seems to think he can be a one-stop shop – serving as not just a political representative but also a religious leader.

Why else would he bother to tweet  Bible verses daily on his official Twitter page and quote Scripture passages on his official Facebook account? Read more

Building Dependency: An Overlooked Danger Of Tax Aid To Religion

When I was a kid, our church decided it would be nice to have a social hall.

It was a pretty ambitious goal. We were a medium-sized congregation serving mostly blue-collar families in an economically depressed area. But the people sitting in the pews believed in the project and gave extra to support it. Kids like me even chipped in nickels and dimes. Read more

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