Separation of Church and State

Federal education vouchers funding creationism curricula

Federally funded private school voucher and tax credit programs are more numerous than ever. Moreover, studies show that the curricula in many of these programs have included the teaching of creationism.
PFAW

Richard Mourdock and the Supreme Court

If Mitt Romney wins the election, his Supreme Court justices would empower far-right politicians like Richard Mourdock to codify their religious beliefs into law.
PFAW

Richard Mourdock's Religion Trumps Everyone Else's

The GOP candidate's explanation for why he'd outlaw abortion in the case of rape raises serious questions about the role of religion in making government policy.
PFAW

Harry Jackson: A Vote for Obama Invites Divine Vengeance on America

 Religious right leaders spent months promoting “Pulpit Freedom Sunday,” and signing up pastors who would agree to endorse or denounce candidates from the pulpit.  On Sunday, Harry Jackson showed us how it’s done, unleashing a diatribe explaining why he could not vote for Barack Obama.  Warning that a vote for Obama would be a vote to bring “divine vengeance” on America, Jackson had particularly blunt words for Black Christians.

Listen to me Black Christian. You are foolish enough to vote against the God that brought you out of slavery, the God that brought you out of the civil rights thing. Just because somebody’s skin is black, you’re gonna support an anti-God, anti-Gospel agenda -- no wonder you can’t get a job.  If you celebrate your race over grace you ought to do badly. God is spanking you right now. And I got news, you heard it right here, the folks that sign onto this now and support the president right now in this will find that their best days are behind them….Four more years of Barack Obama will ensure an aggressive anti-Christian spirit that has currently grabbed hold of the administration and this country.  Beware my Christian friend, you should not vote for Barack Obama

12 Rules for Mixing Religion and Politics

Religious liberty is at the heart of the American Way. In America, one’s standing as a citizen, member of the community, or candidate does not depend on a profession of faith.

Religious Right Leaders Pray for 'Healing for Those who Struggle with Same-Sex Attraction'

A number of prominent women leaders of the Religious Right have come together for the American Prayer Initiative, which is “designed to help draw ‘we the people’ of this nation back to the One upon whom she was founded.’ The group includes the National Day of Prayer’s Shirley Dobson and Vonette Bright, talk show host Janet Parshall, Liberty Counsel’s Anita Staver, Concerned Women for America’s Penny Nance, Susan B. Anthony List’s Marilyn Musgrave, activist Rebecca Hagelin and Susan Allen, wife of Virginia’s George Allen. The group offers members a specific prayer for every day of each month until Election Day, including prayers condemning homosexuality and the separation of church and state.

One message asks participants to pray for God’s “healing for those who struggle with same-sex attraction” and to “replace unnatural affections”:

We pray for healing and restoration of true manhood and womanhood in America. We ask for Your wisdom and protection against attempts to re-define our very identity as men and women.

We pray for Your design for abundant and fulfilled manhood, womanhood and marriage to gain preeminence in America.

We pray for a full restoration of the image and definition of manhood and womanhood in America.

We petition You, God for Your healing for those who struggle with same-sex attraction. May they come to know Your power, Your mercy and Your love as You replace unnatural affections with ones You Yourself designed.

Another is a prayer to oppose the legalization of same-sex marriage:

We pray that the union of one man and one woman will be embraced by all societies as the sole form of legitimate marriage and the proper basis of family.

We ask that the power of Your hand intervene to transform and heal the hearts of those who would attempt to re-define marriage.

The group also sends a message criticizing the influence of judges and proponents of the separation of church and state:

We ask for leaders, a judicial system and judges who adhere to the original intent of our founding documents and their many connections to Biblical principles.

We pray for a true understanding of justice according to Your Word We pray for Your protection from attempts to redefine justice for political gain.

We ask You to convict, transform and protect those who are out of Your will. We ask You to encourage, strengthen and protect those who honor and follow You.

We ask You for judges who will follow constitutional principles rather than ruling according to pre-chosen outcomes or relying on international law.

We pray that courts will recognize parents’ fundamental rights to the care, custody and control of their children.

We ask for Your guidance for accurate rulings over first amendment issues, and an awareness in our country that the words, “separation of church and state” are found nowhere in any one of our founding documents. We ask for a reversal of rulings which have inaccurately established “separation” as a Constitutional principle.

There is even a prayer against a media looking “to bring our country down by bringing our culture down”:

We ask you, Lord, to open greater and greater opportunities for Your Gospel to flow freely across our airwaves.

We ask, Lord, for You to grant Americans the wisdom to discern truth from deception.

We pray for those in the entertainment industry that they may better serve the families of our country by creating programs and movies that are uplifting in nature and extol positive virtues.

We especially pray Your blessings upon those in media, entertainment, the arts and journalism who are driven by loyalty to You. We ask for favor and acceptance for their work.

We ask You to raise up, equip, and abundantly provide for Your true disciples in the media, the arts, entertainment and journalism.

We pray for honesty in journalism.

We pray for those who would intend to bring our country down by bringing our culture down.

We ask you to foil the plans of those who would bring others down in any form.

We ask for Your transforming power in the lives of those who would divide, deceive and destroy.

Don’t Forget Who John Roberts Is

Add this to the good news/bad news mix from the Supreme Court's healthcare decision: Because of the good news (Chief Justice Roberts voted to uphold the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act), we get the bad news that his standing among the nation's Democrats has significantly increased. This collective amnesia about who John Roberts is and what he has done is disturbing, especially since the direction of the Court is one of the most important issues upon which Democrats should be voting in November.

A new Gallup Poll shows wild fluctuations in Democrats and Republicans' assessment of Chief Justice John Roberts since their last poll in 2005, a change Gallup attributes to his role in upholding the Affordable Care Act. Roberts' approval rating among Republicans has plummeted 40 percentage points from 2005, falling from 67% to 27%. In contrast, his favorability among Democrats has risen from 35% to 54%. That the healthcare decision is a catalyst of this change is supported by a PEW Research Center poll last week showing that between April and July, approval of the Supreme Court dropped 18 points among Republicans and rose 12% among Democrats.

Yes, John Roberts upheld the ACA, but only as a tax. At the same time, he agreed with his four far right compatriots that it fell outside the authority granted Congress by the Commerce Clause, leaving many observers concerned that he has set traps designed to let the Court later strike down congressional legislation that should in no way be considered constitutionally suspect. He also joined the majority that restricted Congress's constitutional authority under the Spending Clause to define the contours of state programs financed with federal funds.

Just as importantly, Roberts's upholding the ACA does not erase the past seven years, during which he has repeatedly been part of thin conservative majority decisions bending the law beyond recognition in order to achieve a right wing political result. John Roberts cast the deciding vote in a number of disastrous decisions, including those that:

Oh, and then there's that little 5-4 Citizens United opinion that has upended our nation's electoral system and put our government up to sale to the highest bidder.

With a rap sheet like that – and this is hardly a complete a list – no one should be under the illusion that John Roberts is anything but a right-wing ideologue using the Supreme Court to cement his favorite right-wing policies into law.

Next term, Roberts is expected to lead the judicial front of the Republican Party's war against affirmative action and the Voting Rights Act. Whether he succeeds may depend on whether it is Mitt Romney or Barack Obama who fills the next vacancy on the Supreme Court.

PFAW

Former Rep. Hostettler Laments Church’s Extraction from Government, Agrees Schools are Hiding Truth about the Constitution

Former Indiana Rep. John Hostettler lamented yesterday that the “church has extracted itself from government,” creating a vacuum filled by “those adversarial to biblical truth.”

Hostettler, talking with Truth in Action Ministries’ Carmen Pate on the organization’s radio program, agreed with Pate that the education system is controlled by “those who really don’t want our kids to understand what the Constitution has to say” – namely, as Hostettler, puts it, that “government is an institution that is not just a God-centered one, but it was ordained by God.”

Hostettler represented southwest Indiana in Congress from 1995 through 2007, and is now president of the Constitution Institute, which dedicates itself to providing state legislators and others with “a greater understanding of the United States Constitution.”

Pate: You know, it seems to me, Congressman, it’s very clear that the founding fathers intended for the government’s role to be limited, and they based this Constitution on biblical principles and truths. Yet we know that those on the left, the secular humanists, see the importance of a big government, not limited, because then they can wield more power over the people.

Not to sound conspiratorial here, but I wonder if there have been attempts perhaps by those secular humanists, those on the left, to really not allow or to take away some of the opportunities for learning more about what the Constitution has to say. Say in our public schools, you mentioned in school you didn’t learn all these things. I didn’t either. It wasn’t until I got out of school and started working with pro-family organizations that I really dug into the Constitution.

Have we allowed the education of our children to be given over to those who really don’t want our kids to understand what the Constitution has to say?

Hostettler: Well, Carmen, you’re exactly right. That is what has happened. Because the church has extracted itself from government and we have fundamentally forgotten, as Dr. Kennedy taught, that government is an institution ordained by God. Just as the family was ordained by God, and just as the church was ordained by God, government is an institution that is not just a God-centered one, but it was ordained by God.

So we have extracted ourselves from it – the church, the body of Christ has – we’ve handed it over to others, and we’ve forgotten that just has nature abhors a vacuum, politics and public policy and government likewise abhor a vacuum. Someone is going to occupy that space, some philosophy is going to occupy that space. And it’s either going to be fundamentally a philosophy that is sympathetic and is agreeable to biblical truths, or it is a philosophy that is adversarial to biblical truth. It’s going to be one of the two. And as you pointed out, it has been a philosophy overall that is adversarial to biblical truth.
 

Pastor Dennis Terry Introduces Rick Santorum, Tells Liberals and Non-Christians to 'Get Out' of America

Greenwell Springs Baptist Church pastor Dennis Terry introduced presidential candidate Rick Santorum and Family Research Council president Tony Perkins tonight in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with a rousing speech railing against liberals and non-Christians and condemning abortion rights, "sexual perversion," same-sex marriage and secular government. Terry said that America "was founded as a Christian nation" and those that disagree with him should "get out! We don't worship Buddha, we don't worship Mohammad, we don't worship Allah!" Terry, who has a long history of attacks against the gay community, went on to criticize marriage equality for gays and lesbians, and said that the economy can only recover when we "put God back" in government.

Watch:

Update: At the end of the event, Terry prayed over Santorum and asked God to "have favor upon Rick Santorum" and to "do a mighty work" in President Obama's life:

Cindy Jacobs Claims American Schools Had No Problems Before 1962

Cindy Jacobs and her husband Mike on God Knows discussed a recent meeting they had with right-wing pseudo-historian David Barton where they agreed that problems such as “teen suicide, rape, murder [and] assault” are a result of a 1962 Supreme Court decision barring school-organized prayer. Claims that the Supreme Court’s ruling in Engel v. Vitale is responsible for America’s cultural and moral decline are commonplace in the Religious Right, and Barton even started his career by blaming the decision for a decline in SAT scores.

According to Cindy Jacobs, public schools in the U.S. had no problems besides “cutting in line” and “throwing spit wads” before 1962. Of course, Jacobs seems to ignore the egregious discrimination that African American students faced in the era of legalized segregation followed by the de facto segregation of schools, and even in integrated schools students like the Little Rock Nine in 1957 faced far more problems that spit wads. 

While she argued that the end of school-organized prayer led to “every evil thing” in America today, her husband claimed that a recent meeting of prophets decided that the European Union’s current “fiscal hardships” are a result of the fact that “they refused to acknowledge God.” What they fail to mention is that Greece, the EU country facing the most severe financial problems, like other European nations actually has an official state church.

Watch:

Cindy Jacobs: 1962, when prayer was taken out of our schools by the Supreme Court, and in 1967 when Bible reading was taken out of our public schools, what happened? I mean in ’62 our biggest problem that we had in the United States was cutting in line, throwing spit wads.



Cindy Jacobs: Yeah, these were our problems, after we took the law of God out of our school, what happened? Teen suicide, rape, murder, assault, kids bringing guns to school, does it matter whether we pray? Absolutely it matters. Does it matter whether we read the Bible? Absolutely it matters. You know Mike when we were kids here in the state of Texas, we began our school with prayer and we prayed in the name of Jesus, I mean nobody was forced to do it, they didn’t have to do it, and then we read the Bible and nobody complained. It was amazing what happened in the nation, but when you take out God out of the house, God out of the schools, what happens is every evil thing comes in, there’s a void place.

Mike Jacobs: Remember the prophets were talking specifically about the European Union and that one of the curses that’s on them right now, one of the reasons they are enduring some of the financial, fiscal hardships right now, is they said when they were doing the founding documents, they refused to acknowledge God.

Cindy Jacobs: That’s right, it’s not in there.

Rick Green Warns Separation of Church and State leads to 'Communism' and 'Crime'

Rick Green of WallBuilders today appeared on Truth that Transforms with Carmen Pate and John Rabe where he claimed that the separation of church and state is the “exact opposite” of what the Founders wanted. He went on to claim that the separation of church and state is simply a tool to move the country “towards socialism and communism” and is responsible for increases in out-of-wedlock births and crime. Of course, this should come as no surprise as Green and WallBuilders president David Barton have made careers out of mischaracterizing church-state separation and blaming it for everything from a decline in SAT scores to a rise in sexually transmitted diseases.

Rabe: I think Rick if you ask most Americans today what the Constitution’s position is on the church they’ll throw out that phrase, ‘separation of church and state.’ That mantra is really, deeply embedded now but the picture that most people have is not exactly what the Founders meant by the First Amendment, is it?

Green: It is actually the exact opposite. Founders intended the First Amendment to restrict government, not restrict us, we the citizens it was actually intended to protect our freedom of religion, protect our opportunity to exercise that faith, whether that was in the public square or the private square, now we flip it on its head and we’ve used the First Amendment to actually restrict the individual. If you happen to step into the public square and sometimes even in the private square, government steps in and says ‘we’re not going to let you live out your faith.’ It’s exactly the opposite of what they intended and that only happens when we the people don’t know our history, don’t know where we came from, we don’t read the Constitution anymore, we don’t read the Founding Fathers, but I tell you there’s a lot of people now that are hungry to do that and they hear this phrase ‘separation of church and state’ and instead of just saying ‘oh yeah I guess that’s what the country was founded on’ they say ‘wait, wait, wait, where exactly in the Constitution is that’? People are starting to ask questions and I think that’s when you start turning this thing around.

Pate: They say when a lie is repeated often enough it becomes truth in the minds of the masses, it really causes us to stop and think, what has fueled the perpetuation of this myth?

Green: It’s a desire to get God out of the equation. At the heart of this entire debate, we’re right back to that question of whether as Rabbi [Daniel] Lapin says we’re going to be a Nimrod society or an Abraham society, will the church and God be the center of our culture and our nation or will government be the center? You cannot go towards socialism without moving away from God, you got to get God out of the equation to do that. Throughout history, anyone that has wanted a nation to move towards socialism and communism in that direction, has had to push God out of the equation first. So separation of church and state has been distorted.



Green: When you think about fifty years of this myth of separation of church and state and the impact on our culture it has been huge, it has had a dramatic impact on not only our children and school but you can look at any statistical graph on whether you want to look at crime, out-of-wedlock birth I mean you look at all of it, removing God from the equation from this supposed phrase ‘separation of church and state’ has had a devastating impact on our culture.

America as a 'Christian Nation' -- A Conversation with Experts on Religion, History, Law and the Constitution

One year before the 2012 election, the role of religion in our public life is already a hot topic in the presidential race. The idea that America is, or should be, a "Christian nation" is taught by Religious Right figures such as "historian" David Barton. What do "Christian Nation" advocates get wrong about American history and the role of religion in public life, and what are the implications of their policy demands? Join us for a conversation with scholars on religion, history and the Constitution.

PFAW: Rick Perry's Prayer Rally, Sponsored by Intolerance

Texas Gov. Rick Perry today held The Response prayer rally, an event he organized with the the American Family Association, a group with a history of intolerance toward gays and lesbians, Muslims, Native Americans and progressives.

African American Ministers in Action Urge Gov. Perry to Denounce Divisive Rhetoric of ‘The Response’ Sponsors

People For the American Way’s African American Ministers in Action, a nationwide network of African American clergy, urge Texas Gov. Rick Perry to make sure his Response rally brings communities of faith together with prayer, rather than creating divisions based on fear and intolerance.

PFAW Edit Memo: The Response: Rick Perry Jockeys For The Fringe Vote

On August 6, Texas Governor Rick Perry will host The Response, a massive rally in Houston that's being billed as a "a non-denominational, apolitical Christian prayer meeting." But one look at the event's sponsors, participants and promoters tells a different story: that Gov. Rick Perry has aligned himself with some of the most extreme figures on the Religious Right and embraced a troubling sectarian vision for the country.

Gov. Rick Perry’s Extremist Allies

On August 6, Texas Governor Rick Perry will host The Response, a massive rally in Houston that's being billed as a "a non-denominational, apolitical Christian prayer meeting." But one look at the event's sponsors, participants and promoters tells a different story

David Barton’s Christian Nation: Sham ‘Historian’ Hits the Big Time in Tea Party America

Who is David Barton? A new PFAW report explores the growing influence of the fast-talking, self-promoting, self-taught , self-proclaimed “historian” who is systematically misinforming millions of Americans about U.S. History and the Constitution – and increasingly influencing prominent Republican decision-makers.

Barton’s Bunk: Religious Right ‘Historian’ Hits the Big Time in Tea Party America

A new PFAW report explores the growing influence of David Barton, a fast-talking, self-promoting, self-taught , self-proclaimed “historian” who is systematically misinforming millions of Americans about U.S. History and the Constitution – and increasingly influencing prominent Republican decision-makers.

2011 Budget Deal Includes Costly, Ineffective and Constitutionally Troubling Voucher Program in DC

In the budget deal reached last week, the GOP used the threat of a devastating government shutdown to push a right-wing priority that has nothing to do with saving money or even with the 2011 budget: re-imposition of a five-year private school voucher program for the District of Columbia, beginning next year.
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