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Oath Oppression: It Makes No Sense To Coerce People To Swear To A God They Don’t Believe In

Way back in the 1630s, the leaders of Puritan Massachusetts got the bright idea that every adult in the colony should be required to swear a loyalty oath to the governor that ended with the phrase “So help me God.”

The iconoclastic Puritan preacher Roger Williams was not impressed.

“A magistrate ought not to tender an oath to an unregenerate man,” he observed. Doing so, Williams asserted, would cause the oath taker “to take the name of God in vain.” Read more

Marriage Malarkey: R.I. Man Loses ‘Faith-Based’ Lawsuit Against Same-Sex Unions

Starting tomorrow, same-sex couples in Rhode Island will be able to legally marry – despite the best efforts of a local Religious Right activist to stop them.

The Rhode Island legislature approved marriage equality earlier this year, and Gov. Lincoln Chafee signed the measure into law. At the time, Chafee invoked the spirit of the state’s founder, iconic religious liberty pioneer Roger Williams. Read more

Freedom From Foolishness?: Texas Gov. Misconstrues Religious Liberty

Whenever I hear someone – especially a politician – say that the First Amendment protects freedom of religion, not freedom from religion, I just want to start screaming.

As I’ve pointed out many times on this blog and in other forums, that statement is inane and shows great ignorance of our founding principles. Religious Right figures started using it a few years ago, apparently believing they had stumbled onto something clever. In fact, they are simply spouting puerile nonsense. Read more

Christmas Cranks: Rhode Island Governor Under Fire For ‘Holiday Tree’

My family and I are planning to get a Christmas tree this weekend. We usually opt for a Fraser fir. They’re attractive trees with sharp needles that discourage our two cats from getting too close.

I have no problem calling it a Christmas tree because we celebrate Christmas. But if someone called it a “holiday tree” or even “a seasonal evergreen display,” I wouldn’t much care. The holiday will come either way, and we’ll still experience all of our traditions. Read more

Rhode Island Banner Battle: Student Jessica Ahlquist Stands Up For The Constitution

In 1963, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a famous decision in a school prayer case called Abington School District v. Schempp. The justices, with only one dissenter, ruled school-sponsored and coercive programs of prayer and Bible reading in public schools unconstitutional.

That same year for some reason, students at a high school in Cranston, R.I., decided to create an 8-foot-tall banner containing an official school prayer and hang it in the school auditorium. Read more