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

Christmas Cranks: Rhode Island Governor Under Fire For ‘Holiday Tree’

My family and I are planning to get a Christmas tree this weekend. We usually opt for a Fraser fir. They’re attractive trees with sharp needles that discourage our two cats from getting too close.

I have no problem calling it a Christmas tree because we celebrate Christmas. But if someone called it a “holiday tree” or even “a seasonal evergreen display,” I wouldn’t much care. The holiday will come either way, and we’ll still experience all of our traditions.

Welcome To Dixie County: Thou Shalt Love The Ten Commandments – Or Get Out!

Last Sunday, the residents of Dixie County, Fla., rallied on behalf of a controversial Ten Commandments monument that sits in front of their courthouse.

One woman held a sign that let people know exactly what she thinks of those who object to the government-endorsed religious display.

“If you don't like what our USA was built on,” her sign read, “‘GET OUT.'”

Charming.

Well, sister, here’s some news: the United States of America was “built on” the constitutional separation of church and state. So if anybody needs to leave, it’s not us.

Voucher Mea Culpa: Pa. Church Leaders Recant Lobby-Or-Else Order To Needy Parochial School Parents

The Catholic hierarchy in Pennsylvania experienced a teachable moment recently when one of its officials demanded that needy parents lobby lawmakers for a school voucher bill or lose tuition assistance their children are receiving to attend parochial school.

On Oct. 20, Dr. Ronald T. Bowes, assistant superintendent for policy and development for the Diocese of Pittsburgh, sent a letter to the principals of local Catholic schools.

Creche Clash Averted: Connecticut Community Defuses Christmas Controversy

With Thanksgiving in the rearview mirror, we’re racing full throttle toward Christmas. Tree lots and holiday lights have already sprung up in my neighborhood. (How much time did you spend shopping online yesterday? Be honest.)

For those who celebrate the holiday, it’s a festive time of year, marked with twinkling lights, decorated trees, greeting cards, rich food, gifts and social events with family and friends. For many, it’s also a time of religious devotion, attending services at their chosen house of worship. It’s supposed to be a time of goodwill and good cheer.

Religion In Public Schools: Choice, Not Coercion, Is The Way To Go

Students in the Brownsville, Texas, Independent School District have been told by school officials that they should tuck religious symbols, such as rosaries and crosses, inside their clothing.

An “unlikely” ally, however, has come to the defense of the students: the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas.

Motto Mania: Calif. Woman Promotes Government-Endorsed ‘In God We Trust’ Signs

Posting “In God We Trust” signs in city and county government buildings has become all the rage in California.

The drive is spearheaded by a Bakersfield woman named Jacquie Sullivan who persuaded officials in her town to adopt the motto and then took the crusade to other cities. The most recent town to approve the motto is Port Hueneme in Ventura County. The vote was 4-1.

Christmas Truce: What If They Gave A War And No One Came?

Thanksgiving is tomorrow followed by Black Friday and Cyber Monday with a weekend of leftovers in between, so this looks like a good time for an update on the “War on Christmas.”

It’s over. We won.

To be more accurate, I should point out that it’s not possible to win a war that was never really waged. And there never was a war on Christmas. The “war” was a figment of the Religious Right’s imagination all along, or, more accurately, a cynical creation designed to help theocratic groups raise funds, win new support and get their names in the media.

Crossed Off: Texas University Removes Religious Symbol From Tower After AU Protest

Thanks in part to a demand letter from Americans United, four crosses have been removed from a tower on the new Texas A&M University-San Antonio campus.

On Nov. 17, AU sent a letter to San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro and City Manager Sheryl Scully, as well as Texas A&M University-San Antonio President Maria Hernandez Ferrier, explaining that even though the Christian symbols were on private land, the project was funded by the public. The letter also pointed out that the developer planned to one day gift the tower to the city.

Alternative Universe: Iowa Presidential Forum Exposes Religious Right Disconnect From Reality

I spent two hours Saturday evening in front of my computer watching the Religious Right’s “Thanksgiving Family Forum.” The event, which took place at First Federated Church, a large fundamentalist congregation in Des Moines, featured six of the leading Republican presidential candidates – U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, former U.S senator Rick Santorum, Gov. Rick Perry, businessman Herman Cain and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.

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