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Mayor Of Richmond Accused Of Diverting Tax Funds To His Church

The mayor of Virginia’s capital city stands accused of diverting city resources toward the church he heads, and his defense is unusual: The First Amendment shields him from scrutiny.

In addition to being mayor of Richmond, the Rev. Dwight C. Jones (D) is also senior pastor at First Baptist Church of South Richmond. He was elected mayor in 2008 and since then, city offices have been salted with hires who are also members of First Baptist. Read more

Va. County Closes School Over Islam Lesson

Augusta County, Va., public schools temporarily closed in December due to public backlash to a World Geography lesson. Riverheads High School teacher Cheryl LaPorte asked students to copy the shahada, or Islamic declaration of faith, as part of a lesson on Arabic calligraphy.

Kimberly Herndon, a local parent, blasted the assignment. Read more

Freedom vs. Fear: Restricting Religious Liberty Isn't The Answer To Terrorism

Last week, a community meeting was held in Spotsylvania County, Va., to discuss plans by a group of Muslims who want to relocate and expand an Islamic center where they have been worshipping for 15 years.

What should have been a routine matter of zoning turned ugly when two men in the audience began hurling insults. Read more

Remembering The Memorial: Happy Birthday To A Classic Of Religious Liberty

Let’s say a legislator in your state came up with the bright idea to force everyone to pay a special tax to support “teachers of the Christian religion.” What would you do?

You’d probably fire up your computer and use social media and Twitter to mobilize opposition. You might start an online petition or lobby the legislature directly.

But if it were 1785, and you didn’t have any of those tools, you might just have to do what James Madison did – reach for a quill pen and write a broadside so powerful it would sink the idea. Read more

Deja Vu All Over Again: Religious Objections To Interracial Marriage And Same-Sex Marriage

“Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve” has become a cliché, but opposition to marriage equality remains rooted in certain religious beliefs. The same-sex marriage bans of four states will be considered next week by the Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodges. Proponents of these marriage bans framed their arguments in religious terms; legislators even quoted scripture and proclaimed that the ban was necessary “for the stability of society and for the greater glory of God.” Read more

Seize The Day!: Upcoming Religious Freedom Event Provides An Opportunity For Separation Advocates

Two weeks from today, the nation will celebrate Religious Freedom Day.

Don’t feel bad if you were not aware of that. Most people aren’t. Religious Freedom Day, which is celebrated every Jan. 16, tends to be somewhat obscure. My desk calendar, which includes Groundhog Day, Armed Forces Day and Benito Juarez’s Birthday, does not list Religious Freedom Day. Read more

Fall From Grace: What The Religious Right Should Learn From The McDonnell Scandal

Leaders of Religious Right groups are fond of telling us that if we elect more fundamentalist Christians to office, we’ll have less corruption. Biblical literalists must be more ethical, right? Read more

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