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 have attempted to impose their views on others on 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.

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The Latest on Church & State

Texas Religious-Right Group’s Ridiculous Rant: Mickey Mouse Is Coming for Your Crosses

This is just plain Goofy. After Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal's veto on Monday of a bill that would have encouraged individuals and businesses to use religion as cover to discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, a Dopey religious-right group in Texas is warning that Disney could soon ban Christian crosses from its theme parks. Here's an excerpt from the Grumpy statement issued by Texas Values: Read More

Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller is warning that this week’s appointment of a prominent political activist to a key position in the Attorney General’s Office threatens religious freedom in Texas. Read More

New Texas AG’s Office Appointee Rejects Church-State Separation

“I’ll hold up my hundred-dollar bill and say, ‘for the first student who can cite me the provision in the Constitution that guarantees the separation of church and state verbatim, I’ll give this hundred dollar bill. … It’s not there. … The protections of the First Amendment protect us from government, not to cause government to persecute us because of our religious beliefs.”

That’s Jeff Mateer, the newly appointed First Assistant Attorney General of Texas. Attorney General Ken Paxton announced Mateer’s appointment to the post on Wednesday. Mateer replaces Chip Roy, who has joined a super PAC supporting Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign.

It’s not surprising that Paxton, who won election with the support of religious-right groups and activists, would appoint a foot soldier in the culture wars who rejects the key constitutional principle of separation of church and state (and employs the persecution rhetoric common on the religious right now). Mateer had been serving as general counsel for First Liberty Institute, a Plano-based litigation group that advances the religious right’s agenda in the courts.

The lawyers at First Liberty Institute (formerly Free Market Foundation and then Liberty Institute), are the equivalent of political ambulance chasers. If you’re a social conservative who feels persecuted because,… Read More

Using Religion as a Weapon: The Truth Behind the Right’s Cynical Pro-Discrimination Campaign

It's been clear to observers over the last year that opponents of LGBT equality have cynically shifted their rhetoric from attacking same-sex marriage to promoting "religious liberty" as an excuse to discriminate. Now the website Five Thirty Eight details this shift. Read More

Today’s hearing of the Texas Senate State Affairs Committee was billed as an examination of how to protect religious liberty, but it was really about what we expected it would be: justifying discrimination against LGBT people. In fact, halfway through the hearing, it became clear that religious-right activists and committee members were especially interested in relitigating last year’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of the freedom to marry for same-sex couples.

One after another, religious-righters and other conservative activists went before the committee to make a variety of argument that, boiled down, were essentially the following:

They have the to ignore laws that offend their religious beliefs. They have the right use their religious beliefs as an excuse to discriminate against LGBT people. The U.S. Supreme Court is a tyrannical institution that, particularly on the issue of marriage, has demonstrated no respect for God, country and Constitution.

If you’re interested, you can watch an archived video recording of the hearing here. The hearing went from 9 a.m. to nearly 12:30.

Shortly before the hearing, the Texas Freedom Network and the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas held a press briefing at the Texas Capitol to talk about real threats to religious liberty in… Read More

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