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Mr. Madison's Momentous Missive: Correcting That 'Old Error' About Religion And Government

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mso-bidi-language:#0400;} 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

Thanksgiving, 2007: What I'm Thankful For – Besides The Turkey And Dressing

When you sit down to your Thanksgiving dinner today, do you plan to say grace?

If so, what religious tradition will the prayer come from? Will it be a blessing from the Jewish, Muslim or Hindu faiths? Will it be Catholic, Mormon or one of the infinite varieties of Protestant denominations?

Maybe you won't offer a prayer at all, instead simply thanking the cook for the bounteous meal set before you rather than a deity of any sort.

The choice – in America – is yours. Read more

Limbaugh Flunks History: Radio Ranter Spreads False Information About Church And State

I don't listen to Rush Limbaugh's radio program; I have more useful things to do, like sort my sock drawer. But I stumbled on a recent screed of his about church-state separation that was breath-taking in its ignorance of American history. Read more

Remembering Roy: Maryland Man Who Challenged 'Religious Test' Dies At Age 96

More than 40 years ago, Roy Torcaso was appointed a notary public in Maryland. When it came time for the swearing in, Torcaso refused to take the oath because it contained a reference to God. Torcaso, an atheist, said that would violate his freedom of conscience.

Maryland officials decided to go to the mat. They pointed to a provision in the Maryland Constitution that says public office is open to anyone willing to make a "declaration of belief in the existence of God." Read more

Valuable Vision: Verplanck's Smack-Down Of Government-Backed Prayer

Today is the National Day of Prayer (NDP). Elsewhere on Americans United's Web site, you can read a press release that gives our opinion of this day. (We don't think much of it. We have nothing against prayer but believe it's not the business of government to tell people when, how and where to do it.)

In previous years, we've used the NDP to remind Americans of how two stalwarts of religious liberty – Thomas Jefferson and James Madison – opposed official prayer proclamations. Rather than rehash that again, this year we'll offer something a little different. Read more

Jefferson's View: Democracy, Not Theocracy – And Religious Freedom For All

April 13 is Thomas Jefferson's birthday. Americans United encourages people to mark the occasion by standing up for Jefferson's views on religious liberty.
This is important because
Religious Right groups often
argue that the Sage of Monticello
agreed with them on the relationship between religion and government.

Anyone who is familiar with Jefferson's
writings knows why such claims are absurd. If he were alive today, he would rebuke the Religious Right, not join them. Read more

Prayerful Forum: Pa. City Council Comes Up With Plan To Keep On Praying

Localities nationwide offer people all kinds of places to pray, such as public parks, sidewalks and, of course, plenty of houses of worship.

So why do so many local governmental officials feel compelled to use their public meetings for prayer? Often these prayer setups are simply used to suck up to constituents; in other cases, it's a matter of officials using their public offices to do a little bit of proselytizing for their personal faiths. Read more

Falwell Foolishness: Have Jefferson And Madison Joined The Moral Majority?

The Religious Right crusade to recruit Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and other Founders of our nation into the theocratic camp is ludicrous, but it just won't stop.

Jerry Falwell chose today, the occasion of Madison's birthday, to launch the latest salvo. In his "Falwell Confidential" email, the tiresome TV preacher cites – of all things – religious language in the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom as some sort of proof that Jefferson and Madison are on the same side with the Religious Right. Read more

Utah Uprising: Public School Supporters Seek Ballot Vote On School Voucher Scheme

School voucher supporters are a pushy bunch.

Despite poll after poll showing little support for taxpayer funding of religious and other private schools and loss after loss at the voting booth, voucher advocates relentlessly continue their campaign.

One recent and egregious example of the pro-voucher crowd getting its way with lawmakers emanates from Utah. Read more

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