September 2017 Church & State - September 2017

You’ve Got (No More) Religious Mail!

  AU admin

You’ve Got (No More) Religious Mail!

I enjoyed the article “These Women Aren’t An Abomination!” (June Church & State). I was particularly intrigued to read about the West Virginia county clerk who felt she had the right to lecture people based on her religious beliefs: “I just told them my opinion. I just felt led to do that. I believe God was standing with me, and that’s just my religious belief.”

I too am a public employee. (I deliver mail for the post office.) But it never occurred to me I had a right to berate my customers based on my beliefs. Now I guess I can feel free to comment on people’s mail: “That religious group asking you for money doesn’t follow the true word, this charity is bogus, that church believes some really stupid things,” etc. I just have to add that I’m exercising my right, and anyone who objects is trying to suppress my religious freedom.

Thank you, Deputy Clerk Debbie Allen, for enlightening me!

—Andrew Mitchell Bloomfield, Conn.

Church, State And Trans Rights

As a firm believer in the constitutionally mandated separation of church and state, and believing that religious liberty can only exist under a purely secular government, I have been a longtime supporter of the important and valuable work done by Americans United for Separation of Church and State. However, your most recent news item and article on supposed discrimation by two states (North Carolina and Texas) against LGBT persons by requiring persons to use the public restroom that matches their biological sex is extremely misguided.

For the record, North Carolina’s much maligned HB2 only applied to publically funded facilities. Private entities remained free to set their own restroom policies. Furthermore, restroom facilities in North Carolina are segregated by anatomy, not gender identity. Proof of this can be found in the physical equipment installed in men’s versus women’s rooms. Furthermore, no one in North Carolina has been denied the use of a restroom, public or private.

Beyond that, it is important to understand that gender identity is pretense. If a person’s gender/sex is to be based on how they self identify, I would proffer that the same could be applied to a person’s age or race. Is it discriminatory to refuse alcohol or cigarette sales to the 14 year old who self identifies as a 25 year old? Is a white male who self identifies as a black female to be availed of affirmative action programs? This is the slippery slope we embark upon when a person’s self-identity is allowed to trump biological science. 

I believe that Americans United should rethink its position, or perhaps even refrain from venturing beyond the original stated mission of the organization. Arguing legal rights for personal pretense is not altogether dissimilar to defending religious mythology in our laws.

—Tom Kirkman III High Point, N.C.

Editor’s Note: Americans United’s involvement in transgender rights is summed up well on our Protect Thy Neighbor website: “Religion is being used as an excuse to undermine nondiscrimination protections for transgender people. Although there is an increasing public awareness of issues relating to gender identity and expression, there are currently few legal protections for transgender people. And we seeing efforts to thwart progress, including invoking religion as a reason to block the passage of new nondiscrimination provisions and to undermine existing legal protections. We are fighting back because we believe that religion should not be used as an excuse to deny basic equality to our LGBTQ neighbors.” 

Habits Aren’t ‘Clerical’ Garb

Thanks for your recent article on the history of AU (“Seventy Years of Separation,” July-August Church & State). I have one quibble: You said New Mexico nuns were wearing “clerical garb.” Unless they were dressing up in priests’ vestments – which would be another story altogether! – nuns and all Roman Catholic women are prohibited from being clerics. It’s an issue outside the purview of AU, but significant nonetheless. As this took place before Vatican II, they were undoubtedly wearing religious habits.

—Bill R. Douglas Des Moines, Iowa

Grand Canyon: Millions, Not Billions

I spent the second day of my retirement reading the July-August issue of Church & State. I am glad to belong! One correction, however: I believe the accepted science is the Grand Canyon has been cut over millions of years, not billions. (“Creationist Sues After Being Denied Access To Rocks In Grand Canyon,” People & Events) I think I caught this as we recently had a great trip to southern Utah, and we saw the Grand Canyon itself a couple of years ago.

—Bill Marker Baltimore, Md. 


The article “Grimm Grievances” in the July-August issue of Church & State contained an error. Ethan Cantrell won second place in the Americans United essay contest. Autumn Jenkins won third place. 

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