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.

Resources

The Latest on Church & State

Florida voters don’t seem to be buying into a proposed constitutional amendments that would fling open the door to public funding for religious institutions. The defeat of that amendment, which is on the November ballot, could discourage efforts to pass similar measures in other states, including Texas.

A Suffolk University/7NEWS(WSVN-Miami) poll found that just 28 percent of registered voters in Florida support Amendment 8. The measure, deceptively titled the “Religious Freedom” amendment, would allow public dollars to fund religious schools, houses of worship, other sectarian institutions, and any religious sect or denomination. The poll showed that 52 percent of registered voters oppose the amendment, while the remainder were undecided or refused to answer. The amendment must receive 60 percent of the votes on November 6 to be added to the state’s Constitution.

Our friends at Americans United for Separation of Church and State have more on the amendment here.

TFN will be on the look out for any similar legislation when Texas lawmakers begin filing bills later this fall for the 2013 legislative session.… Read More

The following guest post is by Tom Spencer, CEO of Interfaith Action of Central Texas (iACT).

“Satan runs across the world with his doubts and with his untruths and what have you, and one of the untruths out there that is driven is that people of faith should not be involved in the public arena.” — Texas Gov. Rick Perry, September 2012

The question of the proper role of faith in the public arena is obviously one that still ignites passions in 21st century Texas. Sadly, this critical question is rarely the topic of respectful dialogue. Instead, it is used a “wedge” issue intended to stoke resentments and spread fear.

This Thursday, September 27, Interfaith Action of Central Texas (iACT) will begin the fourth season of our interfaith dialogue program, The Red Bench, with a conversation about “Religion and the State: Drawing the Line.” In this dialogue we will explore the often controversial intersections of private beliefs and the public square in exactly the way it should be explored: through thoughtful small-group conversations involving people of all faiths and none.

Started in 2009, The Red Bench provides the opportunity for individuals to practice “the… Read More

The Texas Freedom Network supports stem cell research, which offers hope to millions of people struggling with serious medical conditions like cancer, Parkinson’s Disease, diabetes and spinal cord injuries. But each legislative session religious-right groups try to ban one of the most promising form of this research — embryonic stem cell research — in Texas.

You can learn more about stem cell research and its benefits both to patients and to Texas at the 3rd Annual Stem Cell Research Symposium on October 19 in Austin. The event, sponsored by Texans for Stem Cell Research and Texas Cures Education Foundation, will be at the Texas Capitol.

Learn more about the event and speakers here. You can reserve a seat at the symposium, which is free and open to the public, here.… Read More

The following post by Joe Deshotel is cross-posted from Burnt Orange Report. Deshotel is a BOR staff writer. His post notes two recent incidents — a dispute at a public school district and remarks by Texas Gov. Rick Perry in a conference call with pastors – that illustrate the continuing efforts by some to blur the line separating church and state. That separation is one of the most important protections for religious freedom in America.

Hidden behind the pine curtain a small East Texas town has erupted into a frenzy after school officials banned religious banners held by cheerleaders during high school football games. Kountze ISD Superintendent Kevin Weldon told the students to cease the practice after he received advice from his legal council to comply with an anonymous complaint. Texas law allows religious banners and signs at school functions as long as they are made by students and were not encouraged by faculty or school officials. The KISD restriction only applies to the on-field display of signs by uniformed representatives of the school, but the cheerleaders, football players, town of 2,100 and 30,000+ Facebook groupies have taken it as a full assault… Read More

Churches and religious organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office.

The above is from the Internal Revenue Service’s Tax Guide for Churches and Religious Organizations. Pretty straight-forward. So how does that jibe with this, courtesy of El Paso’s St. Raphael Catholic Church bulletin:

I am asking all of you to go to the polls and be united in replacing our present president with a president that will respect the Catholic Church in this country

Short answer: It doesn’t. It so, so doesn’t. And now Americans United for Separation of Church and State has asked the IRS for an investigation of St. Raphael.

This is just one example of a church rallying its members to vote for — or against — a political candidate and endangering its tax-exempt status in the process. El Paso has been embroiled in another similar controversy that arose after the city council voted to give health benefits to gay and unmarried partners of city employees. In that case, Pastor Tom Brown allegedly used church resources in an unsuccessful recall of the… Read More