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PAT 2009 Regional Conference includes luncheon and afternoon panels

 

Phi Alpha Theta logo[Part II] Conference Luncheon and Afternoon Sessions

The February 28th PAT 2009 Regional Conference continued with a luncheon and afternoon sessions. This report covers those activities and discussions.

Dr. Minoa Uffelman introduces Dr. Ted Ownby, the keynote speaker

Dr. Minoa Uffelman introduces the keynote speaker, Dr. Ted Ownby.

The luncheon keynote speaker was Ted Ownby, University of Mississippi, Professor of History and Southern Studies, Director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture. His topic was “Free Bird, Roots, and Family Values: Southern Culture in the 1970s.” Ownby centered his talk on “What it means to be part of a family in the South in the 70’s.” Three elements must be considered. “The South in the 70’s is working out integration and is no longer a rural agrarian culture. The South is establishing a new relationship with the federal government.” «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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Role of religion in presidential campaign heads 2008 ‘Top Ten’ church-state stories

 

church-and-stateFrom radioactive clergy to media inquisitions, religion was a hot topic in this year’s race to the White House, according to editors of Church and State Magazine.

The role of religion in the presidential campaign tops the 2008 “Top Ten” list of top church-state stories, according to the editors of Church & State. The monthly magazine published by Americans United for Separation of Church and State, is the nation’s only news periodical devoted exclusively to the intersection of religion and government.

Said Church & State publisher Barry W. Lynn, “It was a wild and crazy year. To tell you the truth, I’m glad it’s coming to a close. I’m hopeful 2009 will be a lot better.”

After studying the past 12 months of news, the editors selected the following 10 stories as the most important and most interesting church-state developments for the year. «Read the rest of this article»

 


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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Religious Right power greatly diminished in Washington, AU says

 

Watchdog group’s election analysis suggests religious right may target state and local government for next advances.

The Religious Right’s access to power in Washington, D.C., has been seriously diminished, but its divisive influence at the state and local level remains deeply problematic, according to an election analysis by Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

“Religious Right forces did everything in their power to demonize Barack Obama and maintain their influence in the White House,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director, “but it didn’t work. The majority of white evangelicals voted predictably Republican, but most other Americans ignored the Religious Right’s shrill and partisan message.”

Lynn noted that Religious Right groups distributed grotesquely biased voter guides, goaded evangelical pastors into issuing partisan appeals from the pulpit and made dire predictions about the consequences of an Obama victory.

“James Dobson, Tony Perkins, Richard Land and Company did everything but declare Obama the Antichrist. In the end, they kept their own flock in line, but the majority of Americans were unmoved. On Jan. 20, the Religious Right’s eight-year run of the White House will come to a screeching halt.” ~~  Rev. Barry W. Lynn «Read the rest of this article»

 

Religious leaders tell pollsters that their churches do not endorse political candidates

 

Most clergy have rejected religious right drive to push churches into partisan politics, says AU’s Lynn

The overwhelmingly majority of America’s religious leaders have apparently rejected the Religious Right’s efforts to politicize their pulpits, according to Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

A new poll by LifeWay Research has found that 95 percent of pastors strongly disagree that their church has provided any endorsements. Baptist Press, the news service of the Southern Baptist Convention, reported Oct. 30 that 53 percent of Protestant pastors affirmed that they have “personally endorsed candidates for public office this year,” but only outside of their church roles.

Said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director, “I have always believed that the vast majority of America’s clergy had no interest in politicizing their houses of worship. Pulpit partisanship divides congregations and communities and jeopardizes the integrity of religious institutions.” «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 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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Churches preached politics from the pulpit; AU to report violations of IRS law on separation of church and state

 

Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a Church-State watchdog group, condemns religious right plan to politicize pulpits today.

Houses of worship that flagrantly violated federal tax law by taking part in a Religious Right-led effort to politicize America’s pulpits today will be promptly reported to the Internal Revenue Service, says Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

The Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), a Religious Right legal group based in Arizona, is urging pastors to endorse or oppose candidates from the pulpit on Sept. 28, even though IRS regulations forbid tax-exempt groups from intervening in political campaigns. Reportedly, about 30 churches will participate.

“Taking part in this reckless stunt is a one-way ticket to loss of tax exemption,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “We’ll be watching, and pastors who violate the law can expect their churches to be reported to the IRS the first thing Monday morning.”

Since 1996, Americans United has sponsored Project Fair Play, an effort designed to educate religious leaders about the requirements of federal tax law. AU has filed complaints to the IRS about 85 houses of worship and religious non-profits. One church lost its tax exemption, some have been audited and others have received IRS warnings. Lynn noted that tax exemption is a privilege and it comes with certain limitations. «Read the rest of this article»

 



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