Rep. John Hostettler (R-Ind.) has waged a long-time crusade to display the Ten Commandments in government buildings. He seems to want everyone to read the Decalogue and obey it. Apparently, however, he's not too keen on obeying U.S. law. Hostettler was detained at Louisville's International Airport April 20 after security screeners found a loaded handgun in his briefcase.
President George W. Bush touts his "faith-based" initiative as a better path to providing social services. In his fanciful worldview, religiously based social services are always better and more efficient than their public and private secular alternatives. News of misused funds at one of South Florida's largest "faith-based" charities should give him pause.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State is one of more than 1,000 organizations co-sponsoring the March for Women's Lives in Washington, D.C., on Sunday, April 25. We encourage all AU activists to join us in marching behind our church-state separation banner. AU Executive Director Barry Lynn will be one of the featured speakers at the rally.
Here are some highlights of AU's participation in this historic event:
Religion and politics can be a combustible mixture. In Kentucky, a battle for control of the local Republican party ended in fisticuffs last weekend when two delegates argued over religion. According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, John Lawlor and Peter Hayes became embroiled in a heated exchange over who would attend the upcoming Republican National Convention. The gentlemen had "words" after the convention.
Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and his Department of Corrections continue their drive to bring Christianity to as many of the state's prisoners as possible. Because as Bush said last December at the inauguration of the state's first full-fledged, "faith-based" prison, inmates need the chance "to reflect on the awesome love of our Lord Jesus."
The media reflexively turn to TV preachers Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson to represent the voice of evangelicals. And they both have reliably provided reporters and broadcasters with colorful commentary on an array of topics. But maybe in the future, Pope John Paul II would be a better spokesman for evangelicals.
Vandals in Florida threw red paint on the home and truck of a Jewish family that is currently suing to end the local school board's practice of opening meetings with distinctly Christian prayers. According to the Bradenton Herald and the Associated Press, this is not the first time the Rosenauer family has been harrased. Steven Rosenauer has reported receiving a threatening phone call.
Controversy erupted on the floor of the Colorado House April 13 after a Catholic priest encouraged lawmakers to "be the antithesis of John Kennedy." According to the Associated Press, the Rev. Bill Carmody insisted that legislators should vote according to their religious convictions. His opening prayer before the assembly directly criticized President John F. Kennedy's legacy of defending both his Catholic identity and separation of church and state.
Today Mr. Jefferson (Thomas, not George) would be 261 years old. Thomas Jefferson was born on April 13, 1743, at Shadwell in Albermarle County, Va. Most famous for writing the Declaration of Independence while a member of the Continental Congress at the age of 33, Jefferson contributed greatly to the history of separation between church and state. Jefferson wrote the original draft of the 1786 Virginia Statute For Religious Freedom, which would later serve as inspiration for the Religion Clauses in the U.S. Constitution's Bill of Rights.
Almost every day it seems that the Religious Right finds a new way to chip away at the wall of separation between church and state. But Americans United is fighting back on many fronts. In the last month alone, I have testified before Congress, debated Religious Right leaders on television and sat in on arguments at the Supreme Court in the Pledge of Allegiance case. We are pressing lawsuits against "faith-based" funding and voucher aid to religious schools. And we are monitoring and challenging the use – and abuse - of religion in Campaign 2004.