Americans United presented arguments before a federal court Feb. 22 on behalf of a group of Pennsylvania residents and non-theist organizations that are seeking the right to offer non-theistic invocations prior to meetings of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.
I recently heard some interesting news from my hometown in suburban Pittsburgh: A Ten Commandments monument that was the subject of a federal court battle has been removed from the grounds of a public high school.
A former public school bus driver in Pennsylvania is arguing that her employer violated her religious freedom by terminating her after she refused to comply with recently passed state background check requirements that included providing fingerprints.
Editor’s Note: Liz Hayes is Americans United’s new assistant director of communications. In this blog post, she explains what motivated her to want to work for Americans United.
I was born, raised and worked as a journalist for nearly 15 years in western Pennsylvania in the suburbs of Pittsburgh – the politically purple borderlands where liberalism drains into the conservative rural vastness that smears the center of the state red.
In September, a federal appeals court ruled that it is legal for members of the Rowan County, N.C., Board of Commissioners to open its meetings with a public prayer led by a board member.
Rowan County’s not a heavily urban area. It has a population of about 138,000. Not surprisingly, most of the prayers – about 97 percent – have been Christian in nature.
When Deana Weaver, a member of Dillsburg Area Freethinkers, asked to deliver a non-theistic message before a meeting of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, she was told no.
“My state representative and the House leadership refused to allow me to deliver an opening invocation to the House because I do not believe in a deity,” Weaver said in a recent interview with Americans United. “This makes me feel that I am not being represented in the House on account of my beliefs concerning religion.”
The biblical book of Acts tells a story about the Apostle Paul, known as the greatest church planter in the history of Christianity, walking through the streets of Athens and encountering people from diverse faiths and belief systems.
If you’ve read any of Paul’s letters, you know he was an intense and passionate man, dedicated to evangelizing as many people as he could. Yet, his approach to the Athenians, a people living in a pluralistic society, was not one where he set out to negate or repudiate the value of other religions being practiced.
Editor’s Note: Today Americans United and American Atheists filed a lawsuit challenging the Pennsylvania House of Representatives’ invocation policy, which excludes non-theistic voices. Three of the plaintiffs in the case, Brian Fields, Deana Weaver and Scott Rhoades, recently took part in a Q&A and explained what motivated them to get involved in this litigation.
A Pennsylvania House of Representatives’ policy barring people who do not believe in God from offering pre-meeting invocations is discriminatory, Americans United for Separation of Church and State says.
In a federal lawsuit filed today, Americans United and American Atheists explain that several non-theists who requested to deliver opening invocations before the House were deemed ineligible on the grounds that they are “non-adherents or nonbelievers.”
On Monday, Americans United filed a friend-of-the-court brief in Real Alternatives v. Burwell – yet another challenge to the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that employers who provide health insurance to employees must include contraception coverage.