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All the most recent posts from AU's Wall of Separation Blog & The Protect Thy Neighbor Blog

Advice To Giles County: Thou Shalt Not Gamble With Scarce Public School Funds

Across the country, cash-strapped public schools are scrambling to keep it together. In many districts, teacher salaries are stagnant, and class sizes are growing.

This would not seem to be a good time for any public school to risk losing scarce funds by going on a Ten Commandments crusade.

Yet that’s exactly what’s going on in Giles County, Va. The school board there voted 3-2 earlier this week to bring a display of the Commandments and nine other “historic documents” to the district’s schools.

Misguided Mission: Pa. Mayor Leads Prayer And Fasting To Balance The Budget

What’s the best way to solve a city’s piling debt? According to Harrisburg, Pa., Mayor Linda Thompson, it’s organizing a prayer and fasting campaign.

“Things that are above and beyond my control; I need God,” Thompson told WHTM TV, the region’s ABC affiliate. “I depend on Him for guidance. Spiritual guidance. That’s why it’s really no struggle for me to join this fast and prayer.”

The Curious Case Of Kiryas Joel: Is New York Harboring A Mini-Theocracy?

There are no theocracies in America, right? After all, we have constitutionally mandated separation of religion and government.

Perhaps not. A village in New York called Kiryas Joel appears to be going right up to the line – and perhaps lurching over it. An interesting case just filed in federal court will test the ability of a religious group to actually run an entire town.

Still Divisible Under God: Supreme Court Opts Not To Review Pledge Challenge

When I was a kid, I recited the Pledge of Allegiance in school. By rote, obediently. Elementary school days of hand-over-heart and guileless allegiance.

Then middle school rolled around. It became less cool, sure, but still unchallenged. It was patriotic at least, during a post-9/11 time when car flags flew in unison.

But in response to the intercom’s summons most high school mornings, I stayed quiet. When I lacked the resolve, I admit I moved my lips. Muscle memory, maybe. Or was it social? Either way, it was my silent protest.

Polluting The Pulpit?: Virginia Attorney General Urges (Right-Wing) Churches To Be Political

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has been a thorn in Americans United’s side for the past few years. A staunch ally of the Religious Right, Cuccinelli seems to have no problem using government to promote right-wing theology.

His 2010 memo on government-sponsored holiday displays was less than helpful. Americans United had to issue a statement warning that towns that took his advice without additional legal counsel might get sued.

Archbishop Absurdity: Dolan Diatribe Shouldn’t Derail N.Y. Marriage Legislation

If New Yorkers approve same-sex marriage, Archbishop Timothy Dolan says the Empire State is doomed to become just like China or North Korea.

Say what?!

What in the world is Dolan talking about? In those countries, he says, “government presumes daily to ‘redefine’ rights, relationships, values and natural law. There, communiqués from the government can dictate the size of families, who lives and who dies, and what the very definition of ‘family’ and ‘marriage’ means.”

Orange County (CA) Hosts Rabbi Larry Seidman

How Religion Can Help Us Develop The Values We Hold Dear

AU Member Rabbi Larry Seidman will challenge us to examine the two faces to religion.  One side is within us. It deals with our personal values and how we lead our lives.  The other side drives for conformity and dominance in the world.  The two aspects are in tension with each other.

Bald Knob Burden: Must Illinois Taxpayers Bear The Cross?

Americans United’s attorneys have been especially busy recently, and I can promise that it will continue to be that way throughout the summer.

With so much going on, some of their work sometimes doesn’t get the attention it deserves. That happened with a friend-of-the-court brief that AU filed last week regarding the Illinois legislature’s funding of a gigantic cross near Alto Pass, Ill.

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