Religious-right activists have been chipping away at the wall separating church and state for decades. Now we hear elected officials who are just as shameful in their attacks on this fundamental protection for religious freedom in America. Indeed, their own words reveal a depth of support for religious freedom that’s almost paper thin. Here’s what we heard from the right on this issue in 2015. (Click here for previous posts on what we heard from the right in 2015.)
“We declare this state to be the sovereign territory of Jesus Christ.”
– A pastor at speaking at the religious right’s Texas Faith and Family Day during the legislative session in Austin.
“[R]esolve to withstand the onslaught of moral evil and the overreach of federal judges who ignore the will of the people of our great state.”
– John Greene, pastor of Lufkin Harmony Hill Baptist Church, offering a prayer to open a daily session of the Texas House of Representatives in February. Politicized prayers like this one led some House members to insist that those asked to pray at the beginning of each day’s session respect the diverse religious and political beliefs of the members (and of Texans generally).… 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
So here’s a story about how bigotry works — and how religious-right groups feed off it.
Schools across America typically close for important Christian holidays like Christmas. Some also close for major Jewish holy days like Yom Kippur. Muslims in Maryland’s Montgomery County asked officials to consider closing local schools in recognition of major Islamic days of observance like Eid al-Adha as well. They also asked that, even if schools don’t close, Muslim holidays be noted on the official school calendar as other holidays are.
School officials explained that they close for those Christian and Jewish holidays technically because absenteeism would be very high, not necessarily because they are religious holidays. Absenteeism on Islamic holidays, they have found, isn’t particularly high in their schools. So they won’t be closing schools for those holidays.
But officials also decided against listing Muslim holidays on the official school calendar. Instead, the Board of Education voted to remove all religious holidays from the calendar, although schools will still close on Christmas and Yom Kippur.
Not surprisingly, that frustrated local Muslims. After all, they weren’t asking that schools not recognize other religious holidays.
“By stripping the names Christmas, Easter, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, they have alienated other communities now, and we are no closer to equality,” said Saqib Ali, a former… Read More
“It sounds crazy, because you ask, ‘where is the separation of church and state?’ You tell me. Where is separation of church and state? It’s not there. Somebody is determining the values of this culture and they are determining the values of those who hold public office, that are determining the future of your children, grandchildren and you. If the people in this position, as pastors and as Christian leaders, refuse to say anything, who is going to determine the perspective by which everybody lives, breathes and acts? The secularists, the humanists, the socialists. These are not empty words. This is what’s taking place.”
That’s a quote from Mark Keough, the Republican nominee for the the Texas House of Representatives seat in District 15 north of Houston. Keough, a former car salesman and currently senior pastor at The Woodlands Bible Church, made the statement in a talk to folks at his church last Sunday (October 19). He is unopposed in the November general election and will replace state Rep. Steve Toth, a Republican from The Woodlands who thinks teaching teens about birth control leads to pregnancy. Toth lost a bid for a state senate seat this year.
If you read this blog, you’re probably the kind of person that, for one reason or another, knows the name Barry Lynn. But in case you don’t, here’s a brief refresher.
For starters, it’s the Rev. Barry Lynn.
Rev. Lynn is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. He’s an accomplished lecturer and has written books on matters of faith in public life. He’s also the recipient of the Medal of Freedom from the Roosevelt Institute for his work in protecting the freedom to worship.
The Rev. Lynn also supports the separation of church and state, which is why he’s been the executive director of our friends over at Americans United for Separation of Church and State since 1992.
So, naturally, during a House hearing on Tuesday, Rep. Louie “Terror Babies” Gohmert, R-Texas, had to make sure that Rev. Lynn had his Christian bona fides in order:
I’m curious, in your Christian beliefs, do you believe in sharing the good news that will keep people from going to hell, consistent with the Christian belief?
Here’s video of the exchange: