Category Archives: Church/State issues

An Explaination of Current Church/State Law

Today, the Wake Forest University Divinity School’s Center for Religion and Public Affairs released a document entitled “Religious Expression in American Public Life: A Joint Statement of Current Law.”

The document’s drafting committee included everyone from former staff members of the ACLU and People for the American Way to Richard Land of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention and representatives from Pat Robertson’s American Center for Law and Justice.  The document seeks to explain church-state law as it stands today:

“The drafters’ purpose in crafting this statement is to help foster an accurate understanding of current law and improve our national dialogue on these issues. While there is disagreement among the drafters about the merits of some of the court decisions and laws mentioned in the document, the drafters agree that current law protects the rights of people to express their religious convictions and practice their faiths on government property and in public life as described in the statement. In other words, while this diverse group often disagrees about how the law should address issues regarding the intersection of religion and government, it agrees in many cases on what the law is today. More broadly, the drafters also agree that religious liberty, or freedom of conscience, is a fundamental, inalienable right for all people, religious and nonreligious, and that there is a need to correct misunderstandings about this right. The joint statement, which is formatted in a Q and A style, seeks to provide accessible and useful information for Americans about this area of law.”

The full text of the document (pdf.) can be found here.  There are many things in these pages I wish were different, but it is interesting, and I think important, to have a consensus out there as to what the current constitutional and case law really says.  Without spin – from either side.


Senate Health Care Bills Promote Faith Healing

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has just sent out an email alerting members that both of the health care bills in the Senate contain a capitulation to the Christian Science lobby that allows, in fact requires that health insurers reimburse claims for “religious or spiritual health care.”  The blatantly unconstitutional language is buried in amendments (below the fold) to both of the bills currently in the Senate.

The Senate Finance Committee is currently debating Senator Baucus’ America’s Healthy Future Act of 2009. The Kerry-Hatch amendment C-14 titled “Religious Non-discrimination in Health Care” to the Baucus bill prohibits insurers from denying “benefits for religious or spiritual health care” if the “religious or spiritual health care” is “an expense eligible for deduction as a medical care expense as determined by Internal Revenue Service Rulings interpreting section 213(d) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 as of January 1, 2009.”

Senate Bill 1679, known as the Affordable Health Choices Act, which has already passed the U.S. Senate HELP Committee, includes Section 3103 (a)(1)(D). It requires insurers to reimburse for “religious or spiritual health care” that is “an expense eligible for deduction as a medical care expense as determined by Internal Revenue Service Rulings interpreting section 213(d) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 as of January 1, 2009.” Continue reading

International Blasphemy Day

muhammad11Today is International Blasphemy Day, a celebration of free speech and the separation of church and state.  Here is a letter from The Center For Inquiry (CFI) the originators of Blasphemy Day.

“Irreverence is the champion of liberty.” –Mark Twain

Free speech is the foundation on which all other liberties rest. Without having the right to express our opinions, however unpopular, those willing to use political clout, violence, and threats will stifle dissent, and we must all suffer the consequences of this. As George Bernard Shaw quipped, “Every great truth begins as a blasphemy.”

Blasphemy Day International is a campaign seeking to establish September 30th as a day to promote free speech and to stand up in a show of solidarity for the freedom to challenge, criticize, and satirize religion without fear of murder, litigation, or reprisal. The event was created as a reaction against those who would seek to take away the right to satirize and criticize a particular set of beliefs that have been given a privileged status over other beliefs.

Blasphemy Day International is a volunteer-coordinated campaign administered by the Center for Inquiry as part of its Campaign for Free Expression.

If you’re a CFI campus group leader, check out event ideas for Blasphemy Day on the CFI On Campus website.

Today is the fourth anniversary of the “outrage” supposedly generated by the release of four cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed.  There were riots all over the Islamic world, and many Muslims were killed expressing outrage for the “dastardly” act of printing the cartoons.  One of the original cartoons that caused the outrage is above.

If one is going to believe silly things, one must occasionally put up with derision and ridicule, and religion should not be exempt.  For my part, I have no “belief” in the supernatural, and that includes gods, goddesses, fairies, (including Tinkerbell), angels, devils, trolls or “holy” spirits.  In the United States, I am perfectly free, not only to say that but also to say it in whatever context I wish.

You do not have the right not to be offended!