An Americans United chapter leader recently gave the first-ever secular invocation before a meeting of the El Paso, Texas, City Council.
David Marcus, president of AU’s El Paso Chapter, offered a message of inclusion before the board’s Dec. 2 meeting.
“We come together today in a spirit of cooperation and compromise,” he said, noting that the border city of more than 670,000 people is made up of residents with different beliefs and that each individual’s feelings are deeply important. Read more
Eight states still have provisions in their constitutions that either bar atheists outright from holding public office or require people to believe certain things about God and religion before they can be elected.
These provisions can’t be enforced. They were declared invalid by the U.S. Supreme Court in a 1961 ruling in the case of Torcaso v. Watkins. Yet they linger on, a testament to the bigotry of bygone days. Read more
On Friday, the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) voted 10-5 to approve 89 new social studies textbooks for use in public classrooms. The vote, which split cleanly on party lines, ends public hearings on the subject. But controversy over the books’ content is likely to linger: Critics allege the books contain multiple errors and exaggerations designed to portray the United States as a fundamentally Christian nation. Read more
Less than two weeks after the midterm elections, victorious social conservatives have already begun to fight for a dangerously expanded definition of religious liberty. Texas State Sen. Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels) may have beaten them all to the punch: She has proposed a bill that would grant business owners the right to discriminate against LGBT customers.
Senate Joint Resolution 10, filed Monday, has been written expressly to allow anti-gay discrimination. Read more
A new VICE documentary reveals that publicly funded, religiously motivated crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) represent a growing national problem. Hosted by Fazeelat Aslam, Misconception tackles the misleading advertising tactics used by many, if not most, CPCs to disguise their true intentions: To dissuade women from accessing legal abortion, and to proselytize anyone who comes through the door. Read more
Back in the 1990s, some Religious Right activists in Virginia got the bright idea to begin attacking America’s public libraries. The idea was to demonize public libraries in the same way that public schools have been successfully demonized by fundamentalists in some parts of the country.
The effort, dubbed “Family Friendly Libraries,” fell flat. Americans simply weren’t interested in allowing a bunch of far-right Christian fundamentalists to determine what books they or their children could read. Read more
Texas families do not have a religious freedom right to home-school absolutely free of any regulation, a state court of appeals ruled last week. The decision is a setback for Michael and Laura McIntyre, who removed their nine children from a private school in order to educate them at home. Read more
The news out of Texas is depressingly familiar.
The Lone Star State is in the process of reviewing public school social studies textbooks. Texas, as you might have noticed, is a large state. It has no shortage of first-class public and private universities. These institutions are full of scholars who have expertise in areas like history, civics, economics and so on. Read more
Creationism continues to make headlines in Louisiana, where a science teacher is under investigation for an unfortunate letter to the editor. Charlotte Hinson, who teaches in a Caddo Parish public school, wrote to the Shreveport Times after that newspaper published articles favorable to evolution.
Hinson slammed the articles for treating creationism as an unproven theory, and evolution as fact. “That is strictly opinion,” she wrote.