Archive for February, 2009

Evolution & Creationism, Religion in Public Schools

A story is told about the 17th Century astronomer Galileo. Supposedly, after he was ordered by the Inquisition of the Roman Catholic Church to recant his theory of the heliocentric universe, Galileo left the room muttering under his breath, “Eppur si muove” – Italian for “Nevertheless, it does move.”

The tale is considered apocryphal, which is a shame because it’s […] Read More

Government-Sponsored Religion, Religion in Public Life

Earlier this week, Dan Gilgoff at U.S. News and World Report reported that President Barack Obama has started a new tradition at some of his presidential events.

On some occasions, at least, it seems Obama’s opening act will be a prayer vetted by the White House.

According to the U.S. News blog, White House staff contacted local clergy to […] Read More

Marriage & Sexuality, Religious Right Research

Whenever people ask me for a concrete example of how the Religious Right has affected public policy, I point to the spread of “abstinence-only” sex education. Thanks to pressure from Protestant fundamentalist and traditionalist Roman Catholic groups, federal tax money funds only these programs.

This is the case even though polls show most Americans support comprehensive sex education for young […] Read More

Church Politicking

More evidence has come to light that the Internal Revenue Service is cracking down on religious ministries that violate federal law by endorsing or opposing candidates for public office.

The St. Petersburg Times reports today that Bill Keller, who runs a TV and Internet ministry in that city, has been contacted by the IRS and asked to supply information […] Read More

Government-Sponsored Religion, Religious Symbols on Public Property

A few weeks ago, a man left his home in Mountain City, Tenn. to walk 440 miles to Washington, D.C. in the hopes of gaining lawmakers’ support for public displays of the Ten Commandments.

This man, Scott Teague, is a funeral director, former Marine and a member of Gideons International, an evangelistic group best known for placing Bibles in […] Read More

Church-State Milestones, Faith-Based Initiatives, Government-Sponsored Religion, This Day in History

In the history of church-state separation, certain dates are special: On Dec. 15, 1791, the Bill of Rights was officially ratified. On Jan. 1, 1802, Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to the Danbury (Conn.) Baptists containing the famous “wall of separation between church and state” metaphor. The U.S. Supreme Court spoke strongly in favor of separation in Everson v. […] Read More

Religious School Vouchers

For some reason, when it comes to private school vouchers, state legislators can’t seem to give it a rest.

Georgia’s Senate Education and Youth Committee held a hearing yesterday to consider SB 90, which would make tuition vouchers available to virtually any student in the state.

The bill, introduced by State Senator Eric Johnson, would provide parents of each Georgia […] Read More

Evolution & Creationism, Religion in Public Schools

“No thanks, New Orleans.”

The Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB) coined this phrase on its Web site this week, and it could quickly become the new catch phrase for scientists, educators and civil liberties groups across the country.

On Monday, SICB sent a letter to Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal telling him that the organization will be […] Read More

Faith-Based Initiatives

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 […] Read More

Marriage & Sexuality, Religion and politics, Religion in Public Life, Religious Right Research

Religion is a controversial thing, isn’t it? Especially when it occurs in a political or governmental context.

Exhibit A today is the flap over a minister’s opening prayer at the Oklahoma House.

The Rev. Scott Jones’ sentiments yesterday were pretty noncontroversial, as such invocations go. He asked the “holy and everlasting God” to “give us the courage to dream […] Read More