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A Little List: The Top Ten Church-State Stories Of 2013

It’s that time of year when people are compiling lists. So let’s look at the Top Ten Church-State Stories of 2013.

1. Greece, N.Y., prayer case argued before U.S. Supreme Court: An Americans United-sponsored lawsuit challenging legislative prayer in the city of Greece, N.Y., reached the Supreme Court. Read more

Public School Proselytizing Prohibited: Federal Appeals Court Rejects New Prayer Scheme

Some people who advocate coercive school prayer are relentless. They’re always coming up with a new scheme to impose their preferred form of worship onto impressionable public school students.

Sometimes they even try to use children to spread religious messages in schools. Yesterday, a federal appeals court put the brakes on this latest effort to compel prayer in schools. Read more

Shrine Settlement: NY Religious Site Won’t Take Taxpayer Aid

Americans United’s legal staff endeavors to resolve church-state conflicts outside of court whenever possible. Today I’m happy to report on one of those victories.

In late March, Americans United received a complaint from Montgomery County, N.Y., concerning the Board of Supervisor’s plan to give a $750 grant to a shrine in Fultonville. The Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs is dedicated to Kateri Tekakwitha, a member of the Mohawk tribe who converted to Catholicism in the 17th Century.  Read more

The Curious Case Of Kiryas Joel: Is New York Harboring A Mini-Theocracy?

There are no theocracies in America, right? After all, we have constitutionally mandated separation of religion and government.

Perhaps not. A village in New York called Kiryas Joel appears to be going right up to the line – and perhaps lurching over it. An interesting case just filed in federal court will test the ability of a religious group to actually run an entire town. Read more

Archbishop Absurdity: Dolan Diatribe Shouldn’t Derail N.Y. Marriage Legislation

If New Yorkers approve same-sex marriage, Archbishop Timothy Dolan says the Empire State is doomed to become just like China or North Korea.

Say what?!

What in the world is Dolan talking about? In those countries, he says, “government presumes daily to ‘redefine’ rights, relationships, values and natural law. There, communiqués from the government can dictate the size of families, who lives and who dies, and what the very definition of ‘family’ and ‘marriage’ means.” Read more

Unorthodox Deal: Jewish Group In New York May Have Traded Political Support For State Aid

The state of New York faces a daunting budget shortfall of $10 billion. The state’s public schools and universities have been told to expect a 10 percent across-the-board funding cut.

So naturally it’s time for state legislators to approve an $18 million appropriation for Orthodox Jewish seminary students. Read more

Salvation Army Surrenders: Settlement In N.Y. Case Bans Tax-Funded Preaching

It may strike you as out-of-season that media outlets have been reporting on the Salvation Army this week. After all, the month of February is drawing to a close, D.C.’s 40-plus inches of snow is beginning to melt and winter is waning.

We should have at least 10 months to hold onto our pocket change before next
December rolls around and the volunteers of the Salvation Army are back in the limelight — wearing their red velour Santa hats, ringing those infamous gold
bells and erecting kettles in front of shopping malls to collect seasonal donations. Read more