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In a surprising turn of events, Pew Research Center is reporting that:

Some Americans are having a change of heart about mixing religion and politics. A new survey finds a narrow majority of the public saying that churches and other houses of worship should keep out of political matters and not express their views on day-to-day social and political matters. For a decade, majorities of Americans had voiced support for religious institutions speaking out on such issues.

Indeed, in just four years the number of conservatives who wish to keep religion out of politics has grown 20 percent (from 30 to 50 percent). Amazing.

Read the full story.… Read More

by TFN

What’s one way you can Stand Up for Science in Texas? Throw a party!

Host a house party and screen an award-winning documentary, Kansas vs. Darwin, which chronicles creationist efforts to undermine what schoolchildren learn about evolution in their science classrooms. Kansas vs. Darwin looks specifically at what happened when religious extremists took control of the State Board of Education in Kansas. The resulting battle against sound science threatened the education of Kansas schoolchildren, demoralized teachers and continues to ripple through the state’s electoral politics. That debate is now shifting to Texas, where the creationist-controlled State Board of Education is considering new curriculum standards for public school science classes.

Screening Kansas vs. Darwin at your house party is a simple but effective way to educate friends about efforts by extremists to promote their personal religious views over all others and undermine sound science education. Texas Freedom Network will give you the support and tools you need to educate friends about the Stand Up for Science campaign, including a Kansas vs. Darwin DVD, promotional materials and suggestions for taking action.

Learn more here.Read More

by TFN

Today is the deadline to sponsor the Texas Freedom Network’s 13th Annual Celebration. All of the work we do — from battling religious extremists on the State Board of Education to defending religious freedom, civil liberties and public education in the Legislature — depends on the support we get from people who share these mainstream values.

This year’s party — our biggest annual event — is Oct. 4 at La Zona Rosa in downtown Austin. You don’t want to miss the great music, Austin’s best silent auction and the opportunity to gather with so many other supporters of mainstream values TFN promotes throughout the year.

The Texas Freedom Network is the only broad-based, grassroots organization dedicated to fighting the religious right in this state. Of course, it’s easy in an election year to overlook the important battles over public policy outside the campaign arena. We hope you won’t. An important session of the Texas Legislature is just months away, and we’re on the eve of a critical debate on the State Board of Education over whether our kids’ science education will be held hostage to the fanaticism of religious extremists. Please take this opportunity to help ensure that the mainstream… Read More

This Saturday (August 16) Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain will speak at Rev. Rick Warren’s Saddleback Civil Forum. The presidential contenders will be interviewed separately by Warren on issues such as AIDS, poverty and social justice.

As we noted earlier, this appearance by political candidates with an evangelical Christian leader is unique in that Warren has pointedly ensured a separation between his ministry and the forum’s purpose of public education.

“America has a choice. It’s not between a stud and a dud this year,” Warren said. “Both of these men care about America. My job is to let them share their views.”

Warren’s nuance in such matters doesn’t sit well with some on the religious right. They would prefer he focus on wedge issues like abortion and gay marriage. “He is threatening to water down the essential message of evangelical Christianity,” Rev. Rob Schenck, president of the National Clergy Council, told the Los Angeles Times.

But Warren shows a deeper — and more respectful — understanding of faith and public service. His actions seem to say that we can’t vote our values, religious or otherwise, if we don’t know the candidates’ positions on… Read More

As we learn more about recipients of new grants under the state's Dropout Recovery Pilot Program, it's becoming clearer that one key political winner is James Leininger. Leininger, a San Antonio physician and businessman, is the state's biggest financial backer of private school voucher schemes and a major donor to Gov. Rick Perry's election campaigns. On Monday a state district judge in Austin rejected the Texas State Teachers Association's request for an injunction that would have blocked the distribution of public funds to private schools through the dropout program. We told you about TSTA's request last week. In addition to the injunction request, TSTA has filed a lawsuit to stop this diversion of tax dollars to private schools. That lawsuit is pending. A look at one of the grant recipients illustrates how state education officials appointed by Gov. Perry are using the dropout program as a back-door voucher scheme. That recipient, Christian Fellowship of San Antonio, Inc., is an evangelical Christian church that established Family Faith Academy in 1998. See Christian Fellowship's grant application here. The Texas Education Agency, under the direction of Education Commissioner Robert Scott (who Gov. Perry…… Read More