Some good news from a new survey from the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press: just 5 percent of people who attend religious services at least once or twice a month say that their clergy or other religious groups have urged them to vote in a particular way.

That survey makes it clear that most religious leaders don’t want their houses of worship dragged into partisan political campaigns. But their resistance helps explain, perhaps, why David Barton and other religious-right leaders are working so hard to persuade pastors to politicize their pulpits and their congregations.… Read More

Christine O’Donnell might be running for a U.S. Senate seat from Delaware, but she would probably feel at home sitting on the Texas State Board of Education. We told you last month that the Republican Senate nominee believes evolution is a “myth.” Now she’s denying — like a number of State Board of Education members in Texas — that the Constitution protects separation of church and state in America.

“Where in the Constitution is the separation of church and state?” O’Donnell, who is popular among the religious right and tea party folks, asked her Democratic opponent in a debate Tuesday. Members of the audience at the Widener University Law School burst out in laughter. O’Donnell then seemed to express doubt that the First Amendment forbids government establishment of religion. Audio here.

More from the New York Times here.

The Texas State Board of Education last spring rejected a proposed requirement that social studies students learn about the constitutional protection of separation of church and state and the prohibition against government promoting one religion over all others.… Read More

In an article on the website of Jerry Falwell's Liberty University, Texas State Board of Education member Cynthia Dunbar is pretending to give history and constitutional lessons about the principle of church-state separation. The article explains that Dunbar's critics -- it focuses largely on the Texas Freedom Network -- have been critical about her tasteless attempt to use prayer to score political points at the state board's meeting last week. As we explained at the time, Dunbar's prayer to open the meeting came before the board was to decide what, among other things, students would learn about separation of church and state in their social studies classes. Dunbar and other far-right board members don't accept that separation of church and state is a key constitutional principle. In the Liberty University article, Dunbar cackles over the fact that the prayer she recited was originally given in 1954 by the late U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren. From the article: "This is a huge story in that it exposes the bias of the liberal media and organizations that blasted me for saying ‘Christian land governed by Christian principles,’” Dunbar said. “These were not…… Read More

Even before the Texas State Board of Education took up its expected debate today over what students will learn about separation about church and state in their social studies classrooms, board member Cynthia Dunbar, R-Richmond, made her position clear. She offered the board’s opening prayer this morning and removed any doubt about what she and other far-right board members want students to learn: America’s laws and government should be based on the Christian Bible.

Laying out in blunt language the “Christian nation” vision of American history that the board’s powerful bloc of social conservatives espouses, Dunbar threw down the gauntlet:

“I believe no one can read the history of our country without realizing that the Good Book and the spirit of the savior have from the beginning been our guiding geniuses.”

“Whether we look to the first charter of Virginia, or the charter of New England…the same objective is present — a Christian land governed by Christian principles.”

“I like to believe we are living today in the spirit of the Christian religion. I like also to believe that as long as we do so, no great harm can come to our country.”

You will recall that Dunbar,… Read More

We just released results of a statewide poll showing that a big majority of Texas likely voters believe separation of church and state is a key constitutional principle. In addition, an even larger majority believe teachers and scholars, not politicians, should make decisions about curriculum standards and textbooks in public schools. Both are key issues in the current debate at the State Board of Education over proposed new social studies curriculum standards in Texas public schools. Check out our press release after the jump. Read More