Melissa Rogers, professor of religion and public policy at Wake Forest University Divinity School, is keeping a close eye on the Saddleback Civil Forum on Leadership and Compassion. The forum, to be hosted by Dr. Rick Warren (founding pastor of the 22,000-member Orange County, Calif. megachurch), will feature Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain making their first joint appearance since the primaries on Saturday, August 16, 2008.

Beyond keeping tabs on the approaching events, Rogers, who is also the founder and director of Wake Forest’s Center for Religion and Public Affairs, notes that Dr. Warren has taken a different tact than some other religious-right leaders:

One of the things that did not draw much notice in the announcement of the Warren-McCain-Obama confab is the fact that the presidential interviews will be conducted under the auspices of the Saddleback Civil Forum (in partnership with the multi-faith group, Faith in Public Life), not under the auspices of Warren’s church.

Warren distinguishes between his job as a Christian minister and his administration of the Saddleback Civil Forum. Warren says his “primary calling” is as a Christian minister who “proclaim[s] the Gospel Truth of salvation in… Read More

A Republican Congress instituted the first federally funded private school voucher program, the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, in the District of Columbia in 2004. The program was a political victory for far-right groups and individuals such as voucher sugardaddy James Leininger of Texas. But it looked likely to fade out of existence due to the efforts of the current Democratic-controlled Congress.

Yet U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings is doing her darndest to keep it alive.

See Secretary Spellings’ column appearing in yesterday’s Washington Post:

Signed into law by President Bush four years ago, the program is the first to provide federally funded education vouchers to students. It awards up to $7,500 per child for tuition, transportation and fees; in 2007-08 it enabled 1,900 students from the underperforming Washington public school system — the highest total yet — to attend the private or religious schools of their choice.

Now, let’s look at what Spellings has to say in favor of the program.

First she says that parents like the voucher program, but that’s a non-starter. There are also families who are like their neighborhood public schools. The issue is whether it is wise public policy to divert to… Read More

Can you believe it’s been 13 years since Cecile Richards, Ann Richards‘ daughter, started the Texas Freedom Network?

Neither can we.

But it’s true!

For 13 years we’ve been fighting — with your invaluable help — to strengthen our public schools, ensure respect for all faiths and keep the government from infringing on religion and vice versa.

To celebrate, we invite you to our 13th Annual Celebration in Austin — a celebration of freedom and public service.

Get your tickets today. It’s one of the most important decisions you’ll make this year.

Can’t wait to see you there!… Read More

This is incredible:

Most of the graduating seniors at Washington University in St. Louis weren’t even born when Phyllis Schlafly led the successful campaign in the 1970s to defeat the Equal Rights Amendment. But they will get to learn about her at commencement ceremonies next week when the university awards her a doctorate of humane letters.

I can hardly bear to read on.

Fortunately, Crooked Timber has cut her (and the university) down to size.… Read More

The Dallas Morning News is reporting that:

Some Plano students who are Jewish say they were pressured or taunted to pick up copies of the New Testament from school display tables during recent weeks.

Their parents have called for changes in district policies that allow outside groups to distribute materials on campus.

The Gideons International has set up tables offering copies of the New Testament. The district isn’t violating the law by allowing this — as the story notes, “a judge’s order prevents [the district] from excluding groups based on their beliefs” — but the practice does bother some students.

“Probably the one I heard the most was, ‘If the Bible touched you, like, will you burn or something?’ ” said Jeffrey Lavine, 16, a sophomore at Vines High School. “I sort of played it down as a joke and everything, which it was, but it was definitely a meaner comment than what we’re used to.”

Plano has been a hotbed of controversy regarding religious freedom, resulting in a number of lawsuits.

Which brings to mind this recent quote from Lauren Smith, an associate communications director at… Read More

Texas Freedom Network

Them’s the rules 🤷🏽‍♀️ Learn more and become an advocate at TFN.org/sex-Ed pic.twitter.com/wKmw…