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Prayer Push: Clergy Demand Sectarian Invocations Before Government Meetings Despite Legal Risks

Pastor Tom Douglass of Galloway Township, N.J., is no fan of generic prayers before public meetings. That’s why he’s asking city officials to “muscle up” for future invocations.

Back in February, the council unanimously approved a resolution to allow council members to open meetings with an approved, generic prayer. But some local clergy protested this less sectarian approach, and asked that the council return to its old policy of letting clergy deliver prayers to open meetings, according to the Press of Atlantic City. Read more

Paying For Praying?: N.J. Governor Seeks To Award Taxpayer Millions To Seminaries

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and some of his political allies are attempting to funnel millions in taxpayer dollars to two sectarian institutions that train members of the clergy – and they’d prefer to keep citizens in the dark about the details. Read more

Garden State Victory!: N.J. School Voucher Plan Derailed For This Year

With all of the hubbub over today’s ruling on health care at the Supreme Court, it’s easy for other stories to get overlooked. Here’s one from New Jersey that’s shouldn’t: Gov. Chris Christie has conceded that his school voucher plan is dead for this year.

Christie was asked about the matter during a recent town hall meeting in Mahwah. He said the bill was dead and blamed its derailment on Sheila Oliver, the state Assembly speaker, who Christie said refuses to move the bill. Read more

Two Thumbs Up: New Documentary Explores N.J. Classroom Conflict Over Teacher/Preacher

The summer movies are coming out, and our silver screens are already filling up with Snow White, superheroes and spaceships.

If you're in the mood for something a little different, I'd like to recommend a new documentary about religion in public schools that you can watch for free right at your computer. Read more

Prayer Politicized In Plainfield: N.J. Mayor Uses Faith As A Weapon

I am always amazed at people who believe that coerced religious worship could be of any value.

Why would a seriously devout person take part in such prayer? More to the point, what sort of deity would be pleased by it?

Nevertheless, such prayers prosper across the nation. Even worse, they are often used as a political weapon. Read more

Local Option Error: N.J. Gov. Says School Boards Can Promote Creationism

If it were left up to Gov. Chris Christie, public education in New Jersey would be a free-for-all.

At a town hall in Manalapan, N.J., last week, Christie said he believes public school districts should get to determine whether to teach creationism in science classes because that’s a decision that should be made “at the local level.”

When asked at a press conference yesterday about this issue again, Christie reiterated his stance. Read more

Starving The Schools: In The States, Voucher Boosters Play Reverse Robin Hood With Tax Dollars

Across the country, public schools are feeling the pinch of the economic downturn. The school system my daughter and son attend has increased class sizes, and some popular programs are on the chopping block.

This, then, would seem to be a poor time to divert tax money into religious and other private schools. (Learn more here.) Yet consider what’s going on in several states: 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

Christmas Clash: Religious Right Exploits Battles Over Symbols And Songs

It's the day after Thanksgiving, and you know what that means. Yes, the malls will be crowded, but this time of year also means an escalation in the battles over how public schools and government deal with Christmas.

Some disputes have already erupted. In Chambersburg, Pa., the borough council voted unanimously to ban most displays from a public square rather than accommodate an atheist who wanted access to the space. Read more