In late December, you start seeing “Top Ten” lists for the year that was. So without further ado, here are the Top Ten Church-State Stories from 2016 (in my humble opinion, at least):
A Maine pagan has won the right to wear goat horns in a state-issued identification card. This is an example of the government treating all religions equally, and that’s a good thing.
Phelan Moonsong, 56, is a Pagan minister and a devotee of Pan. He has been wearing the goat horns since 2009, when he picked them up at a gathering of Pagan men.
To Moonsong, the horns are important religious attire.
Kim Davis’ legal woes aren’t quite over yet. The office of the State Attorney General announced yesterday that the embattled Rowan County clerk may have violated the Kentucky Open Records Act when she refused to comply with a records request from a Washington, D.C.-based government watchdog.
Yesterday we celebrated the one-year anniversary of Obergefell v. Hodges, the landmark Supreme Court decision that made marriage equality the law of the land. Today we want to remind you that there’s still much work to do.
Political news of late has been dominated by three people – Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. They’ve certainly provided good copy, but there are some other things going on politically that you might not have heard about.
Let’s consider Kentucky, for example. The commonwealth has been the site of mostly bad news lately. Ken Ham’s “Ark Park” is getting taxpayer incentives, and the state’s Republican governor, Matt Bevin, is thrilled.
Almost exactly three years ago, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins appeared on a far-right radio program and predicted that the country was on the verge of revolution.
If the Supreme Court upheld marriage equality, Perkins opined, the United States might split in two.
Kentucky marriage licenses will no longer require signatures from county clerks thanks to an executive order from the state’s new governor. Matt Bevin (R), who took office in December, said his order was intended to “ensure that the sincerely held religious beliefs of all Kentuckians are honored.”
President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address last night was partly an attempt to calm a nation that is filled with anxiety. His words also offered a stark contrast to those of a Religious Right leader who seems to enjoy fanning the flames of fear.
As state legislatures gather across the country to start their 2016 legislative sessions, Americans United’s Protect Thy Neighbor (PTN) project is gearing up to monitor and fight legislation that would allow individuals, businesses and government employees to harm others in the name of religion.
By Jonathan Engel
The United States is awash in arguments over the separation of church and state. From access to birth control to the case of recalcitrant Kentucky County Clerk Kim Davis; from displays of the Ten Commandments in public buildings to police departments placing “In God We Trust” on their patrol cars, the arguments rage on and on, too numerous and too depressing to restate in their entirety here.