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The official blog of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

D.C. School Vouchers: President Obama Urges House To Vote No

In a few hours, the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on whether to reauthorize a taxpayer-funded school voucher program.

Americans United has been working diligently to put a stop to H.R. 471, a measure introduced by House Speaker John Boehner that would allot $100 million over the next five years to restart and expand the failed voucher “experiment” in the District of Columbia.

‘By The Power Vested In Me’: Church, State And Marriage

Marriage equality for same-sex couples has been a controversial issue in many parts of the country. But even as that dispute rages, a quieter debate is taking place affecting marriages: Who can perform them?

Laws vary from state to state and even county to county. In some places, it can be difficult for people who want a non-religious service to get one. Sure, a judge or municipal official is almost always willing to preside at a ceremony – but often during limited hours on weekdays at the courthouse.

Inquisition In Iowa: Religious Right Dominates Presidential Nominating Process

Religious Right influence over the nation’s presidential election process ought to be of deep concern to all Americans who value individual freedom and the separation of church and state.

The New York Times reported yesterday that right-wing religious forces in Iowa have extraordinary control over political life in the Hawkeye State.

Starving The Schools: In The States, Voucher Boosters Play Reverse Robin Hood With Tax Dollars

Across the country, public schools are feeling the pinch of the economic downturn. The school system my daughter and son attend has increased class sizes, and some popular programs are on the chopping block.

This, then, would seem to be a poor time to divert tax money into religious and other private schools. (Learn more here.) Yet consider what’s going on in several states:

The Italian Job: Religious Right Lawyers Sell Out Minority Evangelicals In Crucifix Case

Religious Right legal groups are all excited over a recent ruling by the European Court of Human Rights dealing with crucifix displays in public schools in Italy.

The European high court, ruling 15-2, overturned a lower court decision and declared that the crucifixes can stay. They don’t oppress anyone’s rights, the court said, and European nations are entitled to some latitude in dealing with topics such as this.

Army Of Clones: Religious Right Leader Colson Commissions ‘Centurions’ For The Culture War

The Washington Post featured a scary article today about Charles Colson, the Nixon-era hatchet-man turned Religious Right commanding general.

Colson, the newspaper says, is quietly training a cadre of fundamentalist true believers who will take their “biblical worldview” into every area of life, including American politics.

Forgive Us Our Debts?: Political Church In Iowa Faces Bankruptcy

Politicizing churches is a bad idea for lots of reasons. Not only it is illegal for non-profit organizations to endorse or oppose candidates, it also can divide congregations and lead to other types of problems.

Exhibit A is Cornerstone World Outreach, a church in Sioux City, Iowa. Last year, Cornerstone Pastor Cary K. Gordon decided to use his house of worship to launch an effort to recall three Iowa Supreme Court justices. Gordon was angry that the three, who faced retention elections, had voted to legalize same-sex marriage in the state.

Voucher Blunder: Colorado School District Approves ‘School Choice’ Scheme

A few months ago, I blogged about a Colorado public school district that was considering a voucher scheme that would allow some students to attend religious and other private schools.

I explained then that vouchers are a bad idea all around. Tuition subsidies for religious schools undermine church-state separation, hurt the public schools and have not improved student performance in places where they’ve been tried.

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