The New York Times reported yesterday that President Barack Obama met privately with Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan at the White House last week in order to discuss, at least in part, religious liberty in America. This was their second meeting.
Some of my friends in Washington are employed by firms that handle contracts for various federal agencies. It works like this: The department in question (Health and Human Services, Education, Defense, etc.) issues a document listing in detail what needs to be done, and companies compete to get the contract by explaining how they’ll do it and what they’ll charge.
If a company doesn’t come up with a convincing plan or ignores the department’s wants, it won’t win the contract. It’s that simple.
Religious Right zealots are nothing if not inventive when it comes to cooking up bogus culture-war skirmishes and exploiting them for political gain.
Their latest scheme, however, is particularly appalling.
U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio) has introduced H.R. 2070, a bill ordering the Secretary of the Interior to add a Franklin Delano Roosevelt prayer to the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. Roosevelt offered that prayer on D-Day as the United States began the military operation that liberated Europe.
Some religious schools teach intolerance. This is an unpleasant fact, but it must be acknowledged.
There are fundamentalist Christian academies that bash gay people with impunity, mock other religions and promote inaccurate and exclusionary “Christian nation” views of American history. Some ultra-orthodox Catholic schools tell students that anyone outside the true faith is hell bound.
On Nov. 8, Mississippi voters overwhelmingly said “no” to a constitutional amendment that would have codified that life begins at the moment of conception and a fertilized egg has full legal rights as a person. Initiative 26 failed with 55 percent of the voters against and 45 percent in favor.
Many public schools are finally taking an overdue look at the problem of bullying. A number of state legislatures have even weighed in to address the issue.
That’s good news. After all, it’s impossible for a young person to do well in school if he or she is being bullied or is worried about being bullied.
At a luncheon today, Americans United will present awards to two people who have worked hard to preserve religious freedom for all.
Corwyn Schultz will receive AU’s Religious Liberty Award. As a high school senior last year, Corwyn had the courage to stand up to official, coercive forms of prayer at his graduation ceremony. A federal judge issued a temporary restraining order striking down the prayers, but unfortunately a higher court overturned it. The case, which is sponsored by Americans United, is ongoing.
The Arkansas Constitution is pretty clear on religious liberty.
In Article II, Sec. 24, it insists that “no man can, of right, be compelled to attend, erect, or support any place of worship; or to maintain any ministry against his consent.” Article XIV, Sec. 2 reemphasizes that point, barring the using of the public school fund “for any other than the respective purposes to which it belongs.”
The law regarding prayer in public schools is settled: Public schools can’t promote prayer or religious worship. It is simply not their job. The Supreme Court first made this clear nearly 50 years ago in 1962’s Engel v. Vitale ruling.
The U.S. House of Representatives voted yesterday to approve H. Con. Res. 13, which reaffirms “In God We Trust” as the official motto of the United States and encourages the display of that motto in public schools and other government buildings.