Religious Freedom

The Texas Freedom Network supports the constitutional guarantee of the separation of church and state, which protects the right of all Americans to practice the faith of their choice, or none at all, free of government interference.

Unfortunately, efforts to knock down that wall are a constant in Texas. Politicians and activists continually work to impose their views on others, especially around issues like abortion and access to contraception. And in a distortion of the principle of religious freedom, far-right groups have supported legislative efforts to allow individuals to use religion as an excuse to ignore laws they might not like and even as a weapon to discriminate against others.

Resources

Prayer in Public Schools: A Primer (2001 report)

The Texas Faith-Based Initiative (2002 report)NDOP_Report_2005_Revised

A Report on The National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools (2005 report)

Reading, Writing & Religion: Teaching the Bible in Texas Public Schools (2006 report)

Reading, Writing & Religion II (2013 report)

Can This Class Be Saved? The ‘Hobby Lobby’ Public School Bible Curriculum (2014 report)

Texas politicians are again targeting Muslim Americans with thinly veiled discriminatory legislation. On Tuesday the Texas House Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence Committee will hear testimony on three bills that threaten religious freedom for everyone, but especially religious minorities. We need your help to stop these bills.

HB 562 by state Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Plano, HB 670 by state Rep. Dan Flynn, R-Canton, and HB 3698 by state Rep. Molly White, R-Belton, are worded differently but are all based on the unfounded claim that American Muslims are trying to impose Sharia, or Islamic law, in Texas. In fact, Rep. Leach has already said the purpose of his bill is to stop the mythical threat of Sharia here.

TAKE ACTION Contact members of the Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence Committee to express your opposition to these bills. Their contact information can be found below. Tell committee members:… Read More

On Monday state Rep. Jason Villalba, R-Dallas, said he would no longer support his HJR 55, a controversial state constitutional amendment that supporters claim protects religious freedom in Texas but in reality opens the door to using religion to discriminate and harm others. On Wednesday, state Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, refiled the measure as HJR 125.

HJR 55, HJR 125 and SJR 10 by state Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, would allow businesses, government officials and employees, and other individuals to ignore laws they claim offend their religious beliefs, including laws that bar discrimination against LGBT Texans and others.

The conservative Texas Association of Business has warned that the amendments would make Texas appear unwelcoming, hurt the state’s ability to recruit new businesses and thereby create “an environment that is hostile to business and economic development.” Rep. Villalba says he has been persuaded that this is a problem and that he will not ask for a committee hearing or vote on HJR 55:

“I cannot and I will not support legislation, however well-intentioned, that would result in harming the job creators who are so very valuable to the Texas economy.”

But Rep. Krause doesn’t care about that, apparently. Protecting the ability… Read More

We have very good news to share regarding at least one of the proposed constitutional amendments in Texas this year that would allow government officials and individuals to use religion to discriminate. Late Monday afternoon, state Rep. Jason Villalba sent out a press release saying that he intends to “reconsider entirely” his proposed HJR 55. That amendment, as well as state Sen. Donna Campbell’s SJR 10, would replace the state’s existing Religious Freedom Restoration Act with new language that essentially throws open the door to allowing religion to be used as a weapon to discriminate and harm others.

Now Rep. Villalba’s statement makes clear he will not press forward with his amendment. His announcement comes after leaders in the Texas business community made it clear that they oppose both HJR 55 and SJR 10.

We just sent out the following press release:

TFN PRESIDENT APPLAUDS LAWMAKER’S DECISION TO ‘RECONSIDER ENTIRELY’ PROPOSED HJR 55 

Proposed Constitutional Amendment Would Open the Door to Discrimination in Texas

Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller today applauded the decision by state Rep. Jason Villalba, R-Dallas, to “reconsider entirely” a proposed constitutional amendment that would essentially replace… Read More

Efforts to pass legislation addressing the mythical threat of Sharia, or Islamic law, in Texas are gearing up yet again in the current legislative session.

Right-wing state lawmakers have been pushing for years to pass legislation banning Sharia in Texas. Many such bills around the country have been linked to a core group of anti-Muslim fanatics (see here as well) who claim that America is at risk of coming under the control of Muslim extremists and Islamic law. Nevermind that the U.S. Constitution forbids the establishment of religious laws. (And nevermind that many of those fanatics and their supporters often argue that American laws should be based on their own particular Christian beliefs.)

Federal courts have taken a skeptical view of such laws, noting that they single out a particular religion. Indeed, many efforts to pass such laws represent little more than poorly concealed bigotry aimed at Muslim Americans.

So in recent years supporters of anti-Sharia bills have tried to craft laws without actually mentioning Sharia. Instead, their bills bar the application of “foreign,” “international” or “cultural” laws in our courts. And supporters often try to avoid even mentioning Sharia in legislative debates over the bills.

No one is fooled. And legislators’ efforts to… Read More

Speaking Sunday on Fox News, Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore declared that he will continue to reject any federal court rulings that state same-sex marriage bans are unconstitutional. Why? God’s law (as he interprets it) trumps everything:

“This power over marriage, which came from God under our organic law, is not to be redefined by the United States Supreme Court or any federal court.”

Moore clearly has the same disregard for separation of church and state that other religious-righters do. Consider, for example, similar arguments made by David Barton — head of Texas-based WallBuilders and something like the propaganda minister for the religious right in America — against same-sex marriage:

“From a constitutional standpoint, you cannot exclude morals. A number of conservative libertarians in recent months have been saying ‘hey, marriage is not a constitutional issue’ … yet it is because Article 7 of the Constitutional through the attestation clause incorporates the Declaration [of Independence] into the Constitution.

The Declaration erects the moral standard by talking about the laws of nature and of nature’s god.  Marriage has always been defined not only as a law of nature – now, it’s not necessarily in nature, but they called it a natural law… Read More

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