“Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve” has become a cliché, but opposition to marriage equality remains rooted in certain religious beliefs. The same-sex marriage bans of four states will be considered next week by the Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodges. Proponents of these marriage bans framed their arguments in religious terms; legislators even quoted scripture and proclaimed that the ban was necessary “for the stability of society and for the greater glory of God.”
Two weeks from today, the nation will celebrate Religious Freedom Day.
Don’t feel bad if you were not aware of that. Most people aren’t. Religious Freedom Day, which is celebrated every Jan. 16, tends to be somewhat obscure. My desk calendar, which includes Groundhog Day, Armed Forces Day and Benito Juarez’s Birthday, does not list Religious Freedom Day.
Leaders of Religious Right groups are fond of telling us that if we elect more fundamentalist Christians to office, we’ll have less corruption. Biblical literalists must be more ethical, right?
A federal judge struck down Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban last night, calling it an unconstitutional violation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. US District Court Judge Arenda Wright Allen began her decision with a lengthy quote from Mildred Loving, the plaintiff in 1967’s Loving v. Virginia, which struck down the state’s Jim Crow-era anti-miscegenation laws.
The Supreme Court made it clear decades ago that our public schools aren’t meant to be places for spreading religion. But for legislators in three states, court rulings are no deterrent to their dogmatic agendas.
Lawmakers in South Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee are debating bills that are designed, supporters say, to “put prayer back in schools.” The tactics vary, but in each case the desired outcome is the same: a potentially unconstitutional violation of the separation of church and state. And the legislators behind the bills aren’t shy about their motivations.
It’s that time of year when people are compiling lists. So let’s look at the Top Ten Church-State Stories of 2013.
1. Greece, N.Y., prayer case argued before U.S. Supreme Court: An Americans United-sponsored lawsuit challenging legislative prayer in the city of Greece, N.Y., reached the Supreme Court.
There are educators in my family, so I know a few things about how challenging that profession can be. The hours are long, the pay is often mediocre and the working conditions are sometimes not great.
But at the same time, I’ve been taught by teachers and have encountered some at the public schools my daughter and son have attended who were born to the profession. They’re just naturals. They have a gift, and it’s hard to imagine them doing anything else.
Unfortunately, there are also people working in public schools who probably ought to be doing something else.
Legislators and media pundits in Washington, D.C., continue to obsess over the birth control mandate in the new health care law and whether church-related institutions like hospitals and colleges must provide contraceptive coverage.
While that’s going, a quieter tussle in Virginia has captured fewer national headlines. That’s a shame because a debate over adoption by same-sex couples in that state is perhaps a better indicator of where the Religious Right wants to take this country.