The Selective Wall

Last December, I wrote about a controversy in Albemarle County, Virginia, where right-wing Christians who sued for and won the right to distribute literature through the public schools' "backpack mail" program were shocked - shocked! - to find out that there were other religions which then wanted to use that program for the same thing. At the time, the example I cited was a local Unitarian church which invited students to a pagan-inspired celebration of the winter holidays.Now there's a new … [Read more...]

Religious Earmarks

An article in the New York Times this week, "Religious Groups Reap Federal Aid for Pet Projects", gives some troubling details about the growing trend of religious groups seeking - and receiving - no-strings-attached federal grants disbursed by a direct act of Congress, usually called "earmarks", to fund their pet projects. Sometimes these grants are for secular purposes, such as ministries that fund job training programs or religious colleges studying how best to reduce gang violence. However, … [Read more...]

Theocracy Watch X: The National Day of Prayer

I failed to mention previously that last Thursday, May 3, was the "National Day of Prayer" in the United States. Believe it or not, the nation that created the First Amendment has such a day. The bill creating this national observance was signed into law in 1952 by President Harry Truman, and another bill fixing its date as the first Thursday in May was signed in 1988 by President Ronald Reagan. The purpose of this day, according to the original bill's text, is for Americans to "turn to God in … [Read more...]

The Congressional Prayer Caucus

I wrote recently about an attack on nontheist Congressman Pete Stark by a right-wing group calling themselves the Christian Seniors Association. The CSA's spokesman James Lafferty, incensed by the idea that atheists think they have a right to be represented in Congress as if they were human beings like everyone else, complained at length about the campaign of persecution waged against the hundreds of believing members of Congress by the single nonbelieving member:That would be the day that … [Read more...]

Pete Stark: The Reaction

It has now been over a week since U.S. Representative Pete Stark announced his nontheism, and so far the reaction from the religious right has been surprisingly tepid. As far as I know, none of their heavyweights have responded - not frothing bigots like William Donohue, not advocates of intolerance like James Dobson, not the cult-controlled Washington Times, not even the many fundamentalist fanatics that still remain in Congress. I confess myself surprised. But although the major propaganda … [Read more...]

FFRF at the Supreme Court

Tomorrow, February 28, will be a date of tremendous importance for all friends of church-state separation in the United States of America. For tomorrow, Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor of the Freedom from Religion Foundation will be presenting oral arguments before the nine justices of the Supreme Court, in the case of Hein v. FFRF. The principle at stake is whether American citizens, by virtue of their status as taxpayers, have the right to bring suit against the executive branch of the … [Read more...]

Theocracy Watch IX: A Religious Police State

I have written in the past about the paranoid, twisted obsession that most religious fundamentalists have with sex. Rather than viewing it as a natural, healthy part of human life, and a source of pleasure and emotional connection when engaged in responsibly, excessive religious devotion leads some believers to view sex as a menacing and ever-present temptation to sin that must be resisted at all costs. Some of these go even further and view sex not only as a great sin, but seemingly the only … [Read more...]

The War on Christmas: Here We Go Again

In a post earlier this week, I wrote about how retailers and advertisers play on the sentiments associated with the holiday season as a way to make money, and how the religious right is actually, unbelievably, accelerating this trend by demanding the commercialization of their most sacred symbols. However, I failed to note at that time that the religious right is not stopping at encouraging others to commercialize Christmas. On the contrary, they are actively taking part in it themselves. As … [Read more...]

Theocracy Watch VIII: Religious Tests

Meet Keith Ellison.Ellison is one of the new Democratic representatives elected in the November midterms, the winner of an open seat in Minnesota's 5th District. Representative-elect Ellison is also a Muslim, the first member of that religion ever to be elected to the United States Congress. As such, when he takes his oath of office, he intends to do so on a copy of the Qur'an.And there the story would end... in a world more rational than our own. In our world, the religious right, still … [Read more...]

Theocracy Watch VII: Season's Warning

With the Democratic victories in the recent midterm elections, I am hopeful that I will have to write considerably fewer Theocracy Watch posts in the near future. This is not to say that the Democrats do not also pander to religion, which they do, but only that they usually show less interest than Republicans in integrating it materially into our government. However, this does not mean that unconstitutional establishments of religion are no longer continuing, and this post will examine one of … [Read more...]


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