Samuel Beckett, one of my favorite writers, had a lot to say about human nature and the inevitable repetition of inane life experiences. In Waiting for Godot, Krapp’s Last Tape and Endgame, the protagonists in Beckett’s most famous pieces are static creatures of habit; each repeats the same stale cycle of events, expecting a variation in circumstance. But invariably, each play ends almost exactly where it begins.
Jan. 16 is Religious Freedom Day. As American holidays go, this one tends to be overlooked. It's not even listed on my desk calendar.
That's a shame, because Religious Freedom Day commemorates an important event: passage of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. This landmark legislation, drafted by Thomas Jefferson and maneuvered through the Virginia legislature by James Madison, became law on Jan. 16, 1786. Scholars consider it a precursor to the First Amendment and a vital step along the way to securing the separation of church and state.
Right-wing Web sites have been all atwitter about the Alliance Defense Fund's "Pulpit Freedom Sunday" that took place Sept. 27, hailing it as a bold exercise in nose-thumbing at the Internal Revenue Service.
The Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) has announced it will hold another "Pulpit Freedom Sunday" on Sept. 27.
You might recall that during this event, the Religious Right legal outfit urges pastors to openly break the law by endorsing and/or opposing candidates from the pulpit. The group sponsored the first "Pulpit Freedom Sunday" on Sept. 28, 2008.
An interesting survey was issued recently, indicating that many members of the clergy remain strong supporters of church-state separation.
The 2009 Clergy Voices Survey, issued May 20, sampled mainline clergy on their views regarding the separation of church and state. The findings were really rather encouraging.
[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="247" caption="The Rev. Barry W. Lynn"][/caption]
Sometimes, a good, old-fashioned debate is the best way to hash out a contentious public issue.
I attended an event like this yesterday at the National Press Club here in Washington, where Americans United Executive Director Barry W. Lynn participated in spirited (but polite) verbal bout over pulpit politicking.
Back in 1995, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of some conservative Christian students at the University of Virginia who sought money from a student activity fund to publish a Christian magazine.
The decision in Rosenberger v. University of Virginia was a close 5-4, and the right-wing groups that backed the students were full of glee. They had finally succeeded in putting a few chinks in the wall of separation between church and state – at Thomas Jefferson's university, no less.
January 16th is "Religious Freedom Day," an annual event that commemorates one of the greatest documents promoting religious liberty ever written – Thomas Jefferson's Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom.
Many scholars believe the Virginia Statute was an inspiration for the First Amendment. In eloquent language, the measure ended Virginia's state church and guaranteed religious liberty for all. If you haven't read it, you should.
Yesterday Americans United reported six churches to the Internal Revenue Service for violating federal tax law by endorsing candidates from the pulpit. Five of the churches were taking part in the so-called "Pulpit Freedom Sunday" sponsored by the Alliance Defense Fund. (The sixth was inspired by it.)