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

What’s In A Name?: Okla. Judge Who Denied Transgender Name Changes On Biblical Grounds Gets Overruled

An Oklahoma judge who used the Bible as the basis for denying name-change requests by women who had gender-reassignment surgery has been overruled by a higher court. Read more

Belief And Birth Control: Faith Rally Highlighted Opposition To Hobby Lobby’s Anti-Contraception Views

Yesterday morning I had the privilege of speaking at a rally organized by Americans United’s friends at the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC). Intended to protest Hobby Lobby’s ongoing suit against the Affordable Care Act’s so-called contraception mandate, the event provided an important counter to the narrative put forward by the craft store chain’s owners and their allies.
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Snapshots From The Supreme Court: Justices Ponder Limits Of Religious Expression In Birth Control Case

Do for-profit corporations exercise religion? What constitutes a religious enterprise? What did Congress intend when it passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) in 1993?

These and many other questions were batted about this morning as the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the pivotal combined case of Sebelius vs. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties vs. Sebelius.   

I was fortunate to sit in the press gallery during the argument, and it seemed skepticism abounded on both sides. Read more

Justice For All: The Supreme Court And The Role Of The Justices’ Religious Beliefs

Today’s Washington Post has an interesting story about how the personal religious beliefs of members of the Supreme Court might affect their decisions.

The question is especially relevant now with the high court poised to hear oral arguments tomorrow in a pair of cases that could have far-reaching consequences for what religious freedom means. Read more

A Voucher By Any Other Name: Catholic Cardinal Supports ‘School Choice’ Scheme In New York

Catholic schools have fallen on hard times nationwide, and now the most powerful bishop in the United States is hoping New York’s taxpayers will bail out some of these ailing institutions. Read more

Unreal Estate: Church Refuses To Sell Mansion To Same-Sex Couple

Sometimes it’s acceptable for a house of worship to discriminate.  

No one, for example, could reasonably expect a Catholic church to hire a Jewish rabbi. But does that limited exemption from anti-discrimination laws mean churches are free to refuse to sell real estate to gay couples? A Massachusetts court will soon decide that very issue. Read more

The Pluck Of The Irish: A St. Patrick’s Day Tale About School Prayer

The role of prayer in public schools has vexed the American people for a long time. Much misinformation circulates about what students can and can’t do when it comes to religion in schools.

Occasionally, Americans United Executive Director Barry Lynn or I are asked to discuss this issue on talk radio. Inevitably, someone will phone in and ask, “What’s the harm in a little prayer?” Read more

Educational Swamp: In Louisiana, Scientific Literacy Remains A Flashpoint

Creationism continues to make headlines in Louisiana, where a science teacher is under investigation for an unfortunate letter to the editor. Charlotte Hinson, who teaches in a Caddo Parish public school, wrote to the Shreveport Times after that  newspaper published articles favorable to evolution.

Hinson slammed the articles for treating creationism as an unproven theory, and evolution as fact. “That is strictly opinion,” she wrote.
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