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The official blog of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

Silence Isn't Golden: Ill. Legislators Face Revolt Over Mandatory Moment Of Silence Law

It's a fairly tired truism that when government gets involved in the business of prayer, bad things are bound to happen.

Yet government meddling in religion never seems to be a thing of the past. Over and over again, we witness legislatures interfering in what ought to be private matters about prayer. At some point in time, sooner, rather than later I would hope, it would be a great relief if lawmakers at every level from coast to coast were to get a clue and quit playing the religion card. Read more

Inclusive Invocation: Pennsylvania Senate May Hear Non-Theistic Remarks

Last year Americans United sent a letter to the Pennsylvania Senate, asking the leadership to revise that body's prayer policy. Like a lot of government bodies, the state Senate opens with a prayer, often one delivered by a guest minister.

AU had received complaints from Keystone State residents who noticed that the prayers were almost always Christian. We asked the members of the Senate to use non-sectarian prayers instead, noting that the Supreme Court has allowed these types of prayers before meetings of government bodies but not sectarian ones. Read more

Distorted Documentary: Religious Right Whine-Fest Left Me 'Speechless'

The other day, Americans United received an e-mail complaining that "in California schools classrooms, 7th graders are being told by their teachers/school board/etc. to emulate Islam for a week....They're told to dress like Muslims... pray like Muslims... memorize parts of the Koran... and perform a jihad like them.... etc." (sic)

That's odd, I thought. I knew the situation the writer was referring to, but it happened over five years ago – and the facts weren't straight. Why was I getting this e-mail now? Read more

Court-Ordered Faith?: It's Time To Sever The Tie Between Religion And Rehab

In 2001, a young man in Michigan named Joseph R. Hanas was arrested for possession of marijuana. He pleaded guilty and was told he could avoid prison by entering a drug rehabilitation program.

The program Hanas ended up in is called Inner City Christian Outreach. It is sponsored by a Pentecostal church. Hanas is Catholic, and upon his arrival at the program, his rosary and prayer book were confiscated. He was told Catholicism is a form of witchcraft and that he would not be allowed to see a priest. Read more

Slow Learners: ACLU Sues Louisiana School Board – Again

There are certain things you can count on.   The sun will rise in the east and set in the west. Old Faithful will erupt.   And, every few years, the American Civil Liberties Union will sue the Tangipahoa Parish School Board in Louisiana.

The members of this board seem to be having difficulty grasping the concept of separation of church and state. It's a long-running problem. For some reason, school board members don't seem to understand that their job is to oversee the education of young people, not meddle in their religious lives. Read more

Enlightening Exchange: AU's Lynn Joins UVA Debate On Religion And Government

Should religion have a place in American politics and government?

That's the question a scholar, two activists and a pastor came together to discuss last night at a debate in Richmond, Va. The event was hosted by the University of Virginia's Miller Center of Public Affairs.

One of those well-known activists was Americans United Executive Director, the Rev. Barry Lynn. He was joined by biblical scholar Jacques Berlinerblau of Georgetown University, arguing for a complete separation of religion and government. Read more