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Topic: Americans United for Separation of Church and State

Peace rally marches on despite rain, cold

 

peace-enemies-sign

Despite heavy rains, the Nashville Peace Coalition held a planned Peace street  rally at Centennial Park in Nashville today, just days before the anniversary (March 19) of the Iraq War.

The Nashville Peace Coalition has called  for peace in Afghanistan and Iraq on the sixth anniversary of the occupation of Iraq; the street protest went on as planned but rain washed out plans for an accompanying concert and speaker program that was to have from noon to 4 p.m.

“Now is the Time for Peace” was intended as an appeal to President Obama and the Democratic House and Senate to withdraw all troops from Iraq including non-combat troops and reverse the recently announced troop surge in Afghanistan.  «Read the rest of this article»

 

AU lauds Senate vote rejecting taxpayer funding of religious institutions

 

Senate made the right call in rejecting reckless religious right overture, says Church-State watchdog group

church-and-stateAmericans United for Separation of Church and State today hailed a Senate vote rejecting tax funding for religious facilities in the economic recovery package.

“The Senate has voted to reaffirm an important American principle that religious groups should pay their own way and not expect funding from the taxpayer,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United.

The 54-43 vote came after Religious Right groups began complaining that the proposed economic recovery bill (H.R. 1) was hostile to religion. In fact, the legislation merely states that tax funds used for school construction and rehabilitation may not be diverted to religious institutions. «Read the rest of this article»

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Americans United urges Senate to reject ‘Compassion Capital’ funding in economic recovery package

 

‘Faith-Based’ funds were misused by Bush administration, Church-State watchdog group says

church-and-stateThe U.S. Senate should not go along with a House plan that provides $100 million in “faith-based” funding as part of the federal economic recovery package, according to Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

HR 1, the measure approved by the House yesterday, includes a $100 million appropriation for the “Compassion Capital” Fund (CCF), a key component of former President George W. Bush’s faith-based initiative.

Americans United officials say CCF money was allocated by the Bush White House without adequate oversight or civil rights and civil liberties safeguards. Administration officials also misused the fund to help political candidates and directed cash to their Religious Right allies. (TV preacher Pat Robertson’s Operation Blessing, for example, was given a grant.) «Read the rest of this article»

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Christian Cross does not represent all deceased vets, UA tells Federal Appeal Court

 

San Diego religious symbol’s display on public land violates Constitution, Church-State watchdog group argues

mt-soledad

Mt. Soledad cross, San Diego

The Christian cross is not an appropriate symbol to memorialize deceased veterans of many different faith perspectives and should not be displayed on government property, Americans United for Separation of Church and State has told a federal appeals court.

Americans United and other religious and civil liberties groups today asked the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn a lower court’s ruling holding that the Mt. Soledad cross in San Diego is a secular war memorial.

“American service personnel come from many different faiths and some follow no spiritual path at all,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “It is disrespectful to our deceased veterans to use the symbol of only one faith to memorialize them all. «Read the rest of this article»

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Texas School Board should uphold sound science, reject creationism

 

Religious Right Push For Creationist Concepts In Texas Science Standards Could Damage Textbooks Nationwide, Says AU’s Lynn

AU Executive Director Barry Lynn

Americans United for Separation of Church and State on Wednesday urged the Texas State Board of Education to stick to sound science and reject creationist concepts when revising its science standards. The state school board is currently examining the science curriculum, which is reviewed and updated every 10 years. The Seattle-based Discovery Institute and other Religious Right forces are seeking to include loopholes that undermine instruction about evolution and open the door to creationist ideas.

Scientists, teachers, mainstream religious leaders and civil liberties activists want to improve the Texas standards to ensure that the public school classroom does not become a vehicle for religious indoctrination.

“Public schools should educate, not indoctrinate. The Religious Right is exploiting Texas public schools to push a narrow viewpoint and in the process is doing a great disservice to its students, not to mention undermining the mandates of our Constitution.” ~~   Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director. «Read the rest of this article»

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AU: Litigate Ten Commandments suit on church/state issue, not free speech

 

Church-State watchdog group urges justices to require government neutrality toward religion

A Ten Commandments lawsuit to be heard this week by the U.S. Supreme Court inappropriately focuses on free-speech rights rather than church-state separation, says Americans United for Separation of Church and State. The justices will hear oral arguments Wednesday in Pleasant Grove City v. Summum.

The case tests whether Pleasant Grove City, Utah, can accept a Commandments monument for permanent display in a local park while turning down a monument showing the tenets of another faith. The Summum religion sued the local government after its display was rejected.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Summum had a free-speech right to display its monument next to the Commandments monument. «Read the rest of this article»

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Americans United deplores Appeals Court ruling upholding sectarian council prayers

 

Decision is out of step with other rulings, watchdog group says

Americans United for Separation of Church and State has criticized a ruling by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upholding the use of sectarian prayers before government meetings in Cobb County, Ga.

The court ruled 2-1 that Cobb County’s practice of opening meetings with prayers that include references to specific deities is constitutional. Americans United and the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia argued that under Supreme Court precedent, communities must use non-sectarian prayer.

Said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director, “The Constitution gives government officials no authority whatsoever to prefer one religion over others. This decision is very disappointing.” «Read the rest of this article»

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Americans United advises Houses of Worship to refrain from “pulpit politicking”

 

Church-State watchdog group sends 100,000 letters to religious leaders nationwide

Americans United for Separation of Church and State is advising houses of worship nationwide to respect federal tax law and stay out of partisan politics.

Americans United announced today that 100,000 letters have been mailed to clergy and lay leaders reminding them that federal tax law prohibits tax-exempt entities, including houses of worship, from endorsing candidates.

“Houses of worship are supposed to tend to spiritual needs and do charitable work, not act as political action committees,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director. “Our letter reminds religious leaders about what the law requires, why it makes sense and how it could affect them.” «Read the rest of this article»

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Americans United Asks IRS to investigate Arkansas church for political endorsement

 

Church-State watchdog group says Pastor violated federal tax law with call to vote for McCain

Americans United for Separation of Church and State has asked the Internal Revenue Service to investigate an Arkansas church whose pastor endorsed John McCain from the pulpit Oct. 12.

According to a report in the Associated Press, Bishop Robert Smith of Word of Outreach Christian Center in Little Rock told congregants, “I will be voting for John McCain and Sarah Palin.”

Smith later admitted that he took this action fully aware that federal tax law prohibits houses of worship from opposing or endorsing candidates. He told the Associated Press, “It’s about principle. I wouldn’t care if it’s my mother. If she isn’t for life or for heterosexual relationships, I wouldn’t vote for my momma.”

Smith’s violation of the law was part of a larger effort coordinated by the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), a Religious Right legal group. The ADF sponsored a so-called “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” Sept. 28 during which pastors were urged to violate federal tax law by endorsing or opposing candidates from the pulpit. Smith had planned to take part in that event but was out of town at the time. «Read the rest of this article»

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AU urges IRS action against churches preaching politics from the pulpit

 

Church-State watchdog group criticizes religious right lawyers for luring congregations into intentional violation of federal tax law

Americans United for Separation of Church and State today filed complaints with the Internal Revenue Service about six churches whose pastors endorsed candidates from the pulpit during a mass defiance of federal tax law last Sunday.

The Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), a Religious Right legal group in Scottsdale, Ariz., urged pastors to defy federal tax law by endorsing or opposing candidates during a so-called “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” Sept. 28. Under the IRS Code, churches and other 501(c)(3) tax-exempt groups may not intervene in elections.

These pastors flagrantly violated the law and now must deal with the consequences. This is one of the most appalling Religious Right gambits I’ve ever seen. Church leaders are supposed to tend to Americans’ spiritual needs, not behave like partisan political hacks. I urge the IRS to act swiftly in these cases.” ~~ Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United.

Lynn also scored the ministers who took part in the ADF gambit. «Read the rest of this article»

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