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Mass. Court Says It’s All Right To Force Taxpayers To Foot The Bill For Church Renovations

Americans United in July filed a lawsuit in a Massachusetts court challenging three awards of taxpayer money to houses of worship to pay for renovations and upkeep.

These awards were made under the state Community Preservation Act (CPA). The idea behind the CPA is to ensure that historic properties are maintained. That is certainly a laudable goal, but in this case, we believe the state has gone too far.

Taxing Case: Pending Supreme Court Controversy Could Lead To More Public Support For Religion

Editor’s Note: This is the first of a two-part blog post by Carmen Green, a Madison Fellow in AU’s Legal Department. Read the second part here.

Back in January, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a case that has the potential to change church-state law dramatically – and not for the better.

Fireworks For The Fourth: No, The United States Was Not Founded To Be A ‘Christian Nation’

Note: Today’s blog post originally ran last year to mark Independence Day. For more information about the “Christian nation” myth, see this Americans United brochure.

Today is Independence Day, and many of us will be meeting up with family for cook-outs, picnics, reunions and other events.

Happy Birthday, John Leland!: Remembering An Overlooked Hero Of Church-State Separation

Tomorrow is the birthday of an unsung hero of church-state separation: the Rev. John Leland.

Leland, born in Grafton, Mass., on May 14, 1754, became a nomadic Baptist preacher after abandoning the Congregationalism of his early years. He eventually moved to Virginia in 1775, where he quickly became a prominent religious and political figure.

National Day Of Hypocrisy?: Americans Don’t Need To Be Told Whether Or When To Pray

You may not realize it, but this is a significant day in the United States. Yes, it is Cinco de Mayo, which means you can have your fill of margaritas and guacamole. But it’s also the National Day of Prayer (NDP) – and that means we’re all getting treated to a big bowl of church-state mixing.

Risky Business: Religious Right Attorney Tells Christian Pastors To Defy The IRS

Some far-right Christians have a hard time obeying the law. Among them is Religious Right attorney Matt Barber, who really dislikes the idea of church-state separation and particularly has a bone to pick with the Internal Revenue Code’s prohibition against pulpit politicking by houses of worship.

In a recent column, Barber spouted the tired, old line that “the words ‘separation of church and state’ are found nowhere in the U.S. Constitution….”

The Last Political Taboo?

Abraham Lincoln faced his share of sharp criticism from political opponents during his career, but among the most stinging accusations against him may have been an implication that the future president was “an open scoffer at Christianity” – in other words, an atheist.

“That I am not a member of any Christian church, is true; but I have never denied the truth of the Scriptures; and I have never spoken with intentional disrespect of religion in general, or any denomination of Christians in particular,” Lincoln wrote in July 1846, shortly before winning election to Congress.

Presidential Proclamations

The year was 1832, and a cholera epidemic was ravaging the United States.

Doctors of the day were powerless to stop the disease. As its depredations spread, some desperate members of Congress decided that only divine intervention could save the country. They proposed an official day of fasting, humiliation and prayer.

President Andrew Jackson was not impressed. Jackson announced that if Congress were to pass such a resolution, he would not sign it into law.

Save The Day: Celebrating Real Religious Freedom

Saturday is Religious Freedom Day. While it’s not one of our most well-known or popular holidays, Religious Freedom Day shouldn’t be overlooked. Our country is in the middle of a campaign, spearheaded by far-right religious groups and their political allies, to redefine religious freedom. We cannot allow this to happen.