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Obama And Church-State Separation: The Good, The Bad And The Uncertain

I just got back from New York City, where I spoke at an interesting event sponsored by our friends at the Center for Inquiry.

On Tuesday night, a three-person panel discussed the issue "Church and State in the Obama Era" at All Souls Church, a Unitarian-Universalist congregation. I wouldn't call this event a debate; it was more of a discussion of where we stand under Obama – as I put it (taking off from the title of an old Clint Eastwood Western), "The Good, the Bad and the Uncertain." Read more

'Faith-Based' Accord: Diverse Voices Are Wary Of Government Religion Subsidies

As you may recall, earlier this month, Americans United and allied groups urged Attorney General Eric Holder to revoke a Bush-era rule regarding "faith-based" funding for religious groups.

In 2007, the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) issued a legal memo providing a blanket right for religious organizations to discriminate in hiring staff, even if they receive federal funds. Read more

'Faith-Based' Bungle: WSJ Op-Ed Writer Gets It Wrong

The Wall Street Journal's editorial page takes a potshot at Americans United and Barry Lynn today.

That's not surprising. The Journal's news department is staffed by lots of skilled and professional reporters who have done some crackerjack reporting on the Religious Right over the years. Fortunately, there's a wall of separation between those folks and the editorial page staff.

The latter is, as the saying goes, to the right of Attila the Hun. Read more

Staver Palaver: Falwell Law School's Mean Dean Defames Americans United

Is Americans United for Separation of Church and State "one of the most dangerous organizations in America"?

Mat Staver seems to think so.

Staver, dean of the late Jerry Falwell's Liberty University Law School and president of Liberty Counsel, went on a tiresome tirade about AU in today's edition of One News Now, the wacky Wildmon family's "news service."

What could have provoked Staver's ire? Read more

Building Dependency: An Overlooked Danger Of Tax Aid To Religion

When I was a kid, our church decided it would be nice to have a social hall.

It was a pretty ambitious goal. We were a medium-sized congregation serving mostly blue-collar families in an economically depressed area. But the people sitting in the pews believed in the project and gave extra to support it. Kids like me even chipped in nickels and dimes. Read more

The First 100 Days: President Obama's Scorecard On Church And State

I guess it's a little impertinent for me to issue a report card for President Barack Obama on his performance during his first 100 days in office. I'm not his teacher, and he's not my student.

But what the heck? It's a free country and everyone else is doing it. So here goes.

I'm focusing on issues with church-state implications. Somebody else can tackle the other topics. Read more

Job Bias Blasted: The Washington Post Urges President To Fix 'Faith-Based' Initiative

Should taxpayers be forced to subsidize social service programs that discriminate in hiring on religious grounds?

Most Americans would quickly and emphatically say, "No!" If taxpayers of all faiths (and none) are paying for a program, taxpayers of all faiths (and none) should be eligible to work there. Applicants should be judged on their qualifications, not their theological opinions.

Yet former President George W. Bush allowed exactly that kind of job bias in publicly funded programs run by faith-based agencies. Read more

Orange County Outrage: Supervisors May Divert Sex Ed Funds To Religious Group

Lock up the children! The Rev. Wiley Drake is on the loose again.

I'm sure you remember Drake, the controversial California pastor and media hound. Drake, a Southern Baptist, is perhaps best known for waging an "imprecatory prayer" campaign against Americans United and its staff (including me by name – thanks, Wiley!). Read more

Backlash To Bias: Obama Inaction On Hiring Discrimination Gaining Attention

President Barack Obama's reluctance to overturn a Bush-era executive order permitting religious bias in federally funded "faith-based" programs is not going unnoticed.

The Los Angeles Times was quick to blast the president's inaction in a Feb. 9 editorial cleverly headlined "Thou may not discriminate." The newspaper labeled Obama's decision not to revoke the order an "unpleasant" surprise and called for quick corrective action. Read more

'Faith-Based' Frenzy: AU Responds To Obama's Disappointing Announcement

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Have you ever had "one of those days" at work? I'm talking about the kind of day where something takes off, you get to working on it, and the next thing you know nine hours have flown by and you're surprised at how much you've accomplished.

Yesterday was like that here at AU. We knew that President Barack Obama would be issuing an executive order addressing the "faith-based" initiative. We didn't know what it would say, although speculation was rife. Read more

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