An anti-gay fundamentalist Christian group successfully infiltrated an Iowa public high school assembly a few months ago – a move that angered some parents.
Last spring, the Todd Becker Foundation (TBF) gave a presentation during the school day to Logan-Magnolia Junior/Senior High School in Logan about the dangers of drinking and driving. That lecture cost the school $1,500, money that school Superintendent Tom Ridder felt was well spent.
Some elected officials have a bad habit of releasing official proclamations lauding the Bible, Christianity or religion generally.
We at Americans United find these proclamations to be extremely annoying, but judges have not been very sympathetic to efforts to try to block them in court. They usually say that these proclamations are just suggestions that don’t require anyone to do anything and therefore they pass constitutional muster.
A few miles outside Albia, Iowa, three large stone pyramids sit abandoned in a grass field. The pyramids were built in 1939 by Axel Peterson, a local aficionado of Egyptian history; he had intended to be buried in one of them. Peterson’s final wishes were never fulfilled, but his pyramids endure, a moderately famous bit of local weirdness.
Until this year, they were arguably the most famous monuments in or around the town of Albia, population 3,795. Now they’ve been eclipsed by a new – and controversial – addition.
Editor’s Note: Today the “Wall of Separation” is pleased to feature a guest post by Ed Beck, a First Amendment advocate and veteran of the War in Iraq.
Beck at Al-Taqaddum airbase in Iraq, 2005
Late last month, attorneys at Americans United sent a letter to officials in the small town of Albia, Iowa.
We got word that county and city officials there had earmarked tax funds and provided public land for a war memorial whose central feature is a row of 21 crosses. AU attorneys wanted to let them know that this wasn’t such a good idea.
We had hoped to resolve this matter in private, outside of the glare of the media spotlight, but someone in town gave our letter to the local newspaper, the Union-Republican.
Donald Trump won the New Hampshire Republican primary last night, and he split the state’s evangelical vote to do it. According to The Washington Post, Trump won 27 percent of self-identified evangelicals. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) won 23 percent and placed third in the primary overall.
The Iowa caucuses are today, and, despite what you may have heard, Jesus Christ is not appearing on the ballot.
Several of his close friends are, though. As voting approaches, Republican candidates have been working hard to win endorsements from prominent conservative evangelicals by explaining just how much they plan to mix up religion and government if elected.
Here’s a round-up of recent activities of note:
A secular war memorial is set to be erected in an Iowa public park, but the fate of a controversial religious symbol on that property remains uncertain.
In August, Americans United asked officials in the town of Knoxville, a small city of about 7,000 south of Des Moines, to remove a display of a silhouetted soldier kneeling before a cross because it does not honor all veterans. The plywood cutout was made by a resident and placed in a public park without city leaders’ permission, but the town has chosen to leave the homemade display in place.
Today I’m doing something I never thought I’d do: defending Dr. Ben Carson.
I’m standing up for Carson in the face of an attack on his faith by Donald Trump. Trump’s assault was crude and below the belt; it also displayed great ignorance.