In the News

Statement From Americans United On Religious Freedom Bills In Indiana And Arkansas

posted Apr 4, 2015, 8:29 AM by AU Triad NC   [ updated Apr 4, 2015, 8:29 AM ]

The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, issued the following statement today on the religious freedom legislation in Indiana and Arkansas:

“The Religious Right has tried in two states to weaponize the concept of religious freedom.

The Indiana legislature has improved their bill somewhat, but we still don’t believe these nondiscrimination provisions go far enough. Yet, the Religious Right greeted these new but limited protections as though they’re a harbinger of the apocalypse.

Meanwhile, in Arkansas, legislators claim to have fixed their RFRA by having it mirror the federal version. Because the Supreme Court reinterpreted the law so drastically in Hobby Lobby, it could allow discrimination and undermine civil rights.

These bills have nothing to do with religious freedom.”

Read this statement online here »

As 2016 Presidential Campaign Gets Under Way, IRS Should Act To Enforce Non-Profit ‘No-Politicking’ Rule, Says Americans United

posted Mar 26, 2015, 10:37 AM by AU Triad NC   [ updated Mar 26, 2015, 10:38 AM ]

Church-State Watchdog Group Says Liberty University May Have Violated Federal Law By Hosting U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz

The Internal Revenue Service should make it clear that houses of worship and other tax-exempt, non-profit groups have no right to engage in partisan politicking, Americans United for Separation of Church and State told the tax agency today.

In a letter to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, Americans United Executive Director Barry W. Lynn urged the agency to act now, since the 2016 presidential campaign is getting under way.

“Too many houses of worship, religious colleges and other tax-exempt groups are flagrantly violating the law by endorsing or opposing candidates,” Lynn said. “The IRS has the power to stop this, and it’s time the agency used it.”

In his letter to Koskinen, Lynn noted that Americans don’t want to see non-profit groups turned into partisan political units.

“Many Americans are concerned over the abuse of tax-exempt status by organizations with partisan political intent,” wrote Lynn. “With our nation approaching a presidential election, the problem of pulpit politicking will only become more acute.”

Read the rest of this press release here »


EEOC Wrong To Side With Teacher In Bible Distribution Case

posted Mar 26, 2015, 10:35 AM by AU Triad NC   [ updated Mar 26, 2015, 10:36 AM ]

Church-State Watchdog Says School Districts Can Fire Staff For Distributing Religious Material To Students

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) should not have ruled in favor of a New Jersey substitute teacher who was fired for giving a Bible to a student, Americans United for Separation of Church and State says.

In a letter submitted to the EEOC’s New York District Office today, Americans United argued that the Phillipsburg School District could legally terminate Walt Tutka’s employment if the school acted for the purposes of avoiding a church-state violation.

Tutka, who gave a Bible to a student during school hours, alleged religious discrimination and protested his termination by filing a complaint with the Newark Area Office of the EEOC. The Newark Area Office then ruled in his favor, finding that he had a legitimate discrimination complaint.

“I’m shocked that the EEOC ignored the case law in this area that requires public schools to abide by the separation of church and state,” said Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “The school district in this case appears to have done what the law requires. The EEOC needs to reconsider.”  

Read the rest of this press release here »

Ask North Carolina Court To Strike Down State's School Voucher Scheme

posted Feb 2, 2015, 11:02 AM by AU Triad NC   [ updated Feb 2, 2015, 11:03 AM ]


 
Vouchers Are An Unconstitutional Taxpayer Bailout For Sectarian Schools, Says Church-State Watchdog Group

Americans United for Separation of Church and State and its allies have asked the North Carolina Supreme Court to strike down a program that sends millions of dollars in state funds to private and religious institutions.
In friend-of-the-court briefs filed in the cases of Richardson v. North Carolina and Hart v. North Carolina, Americans United argues that it is unconstitutional for taxpayers to be forced to fund religious education through vouchers, which would be inevitable under North Carolina’s scheme. The briefs also note that private schools are free from the academic standards placed on public schools, meaning they would receive public money without any accountability.
“Voucher schemes like North Carolina’s are essentially a taxpayer handout for religious schools,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “Study after study shows that vouchers don’t improve student achievement, so this program is really just a payday for sectarian interests.”
 
Read the rest of this press release at au.org »

Americans United Advises Ala. Governor To Ignore Advice On Same-Sex Marriage From Chief Justice Roy Moore

posted Jan 29, 2015, 10:27 AM by AU Triad NC   [ updated Jan 29, 2015, 10:28 AM ]

Controversial Jurist Doesn’t Understand Basics Of U.S. Law, Church-State Watchdog Group Says

 

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley should ignore Chief Justice Roy Moore’s recent letter on same-sex marriage, says Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

Moore wrote to Bentley Jan. 27 and urged him to continue to deny same-sex couples the right to marry, even though a federal court recently struck down the state’s ban on such marriages.

“As usual, Roy Moore doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “His interpretation of the U.S. Constitution is based on wishful thinking; it has no basis in reality.”

In his letter to Bentley, Moore insisted that the state of Alabama is free to ignore rulings by federal courts. This assertion, Americans United said in a letter to Bentley sent today, is not just obviously incorrect but also offensive.

 

Read the rest of this press release at au.org »

Drop Sponsorship of Evengelical Christian Rally, AU Tells Louisiana Gov. Jindal

posted Dec 18, 2014, 1:31 PM by AU Triad NC   [ updated Dec 18, 2014, 1:31 PM ]


 
Church-State Watchdog Group Reminds Governor He Was Elected To Represent All Constituents, Not Just Christians

 
Americans United for Separation of Church and State today told Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal to end his sponsorship and endorsement of an evangelistic Christian rally, saying his behavior is inappropriate and possibly illegal.

Jindal used official state letterhead to invite residents to “The Response-Louisiana,” a fundamentalist Christian event that, in Jindal’s words, promotes the idea that “Jesus Christ, Son of God and the Lord of Life, is America’s only hope.”

Asserts AU’s letter, “When you became Governor, you swore an oath to support the Constitution and laws of the United States. The invitation letter makes a mockery of that oath by flagrantly violating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”

The letter goes on to say, “Governor Jindal, you were elected to represent all of your constituents, not just the Christians. Your proselytizing letter under the seal of your office and the State of Louisiana represents a flagrant disregard for large portions of your constituency, and of the requirements of the Constitution of the United States.”

The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United’s executive director, said Jindal should focus on governance, not preaching

Read the rest of the press release at au.org »

Voices United for Separation of Church and State

posted Nov 12, 2014, 8:23 AM by AU Triad NC   [ updated Nov 12, 2014, 8:24 AM ]


Voices United for Separation of Church and State
Orange-Durham Americans United
Presents:
 
CATIE CURTIS
& Mary Rocap
 


Saturday, November 15 - 7:00PM
Binkley Baptist Meeting Hall
1712 Willow Dr.
Chapel Hill, NC 27514

» Click Here To Purchase Tickets «

Invite a Friend! Support Voices United - Donate Now!
Copyright © 2014 Americans United for Separation of Church and State, All rights reserved.

Florida Officials Cannot Ban Satanic Temple's State Capitol Holiday Display, Says Americans United

posted Oct 16, 2014, 6:51 AM by AU Triad NC   [ updated Oct 16, 2014, 6:52 AM ]


Policy Violates Free Speech And Church-State Separation, Watchdog Group Asserts

October 15, 2014
Officials in Florida may not ban the Satanic Temple’s holiday display at the State Capitol in Tallahassee simply because they find it offensive, says Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

In a letter to the Florida Department of Management Services sent today, Americans United warns officials that they must not repeat a decision from 2013 that excluded the Satanic Temple from the rotunda of the State Capitol.

The rotunda is legally considered an open forum for speech, and private groups in December often erect holiday-themed displays at their own expense. In 2013, the rotunda housed a nativity scene, a “Festivus Pole” and a rendering of the Pastafarian Flying Spaghetti Monster.

But officials rejected the temple’s proposed display, which would have shown an angel falling from the sky into flames, accompanied by Bible verses and the message “Happy Holidays from the Satanic Temple.”

Read the rest of this press release at au.org »

The school year has just started - and the Religious Right is already stepping up its assault on our nation’s public schools.

posted Sep 17, 2014, 3:57 PM by AU Triad NC   [ updated Sep 17, 2014, 3:58 PM ]

Will you help AU fight back, by making a donation today?
 

Here are a few recent skirmishes:
  • In Oklahoma, Steve Green - the owner of  the Hobby Lobby chain - is pushing a public school near company headquarters to offer an elective Bible class that teaches the religious book as literal truth.  What more, he has publicly described the class as the “fourth leg” of his personal Christian ministry – one he seems to think taxpayers should help fund!  The school has postponed the class after AU and other groups demanded it be cancelled - but it has also retained a Religious Right legal firm, indicating that the matter isn't over yet.
  • In Arizona, a publicly-funded charter school called Heritage Academy is using religious textbooks in history and government classes. These books repeat familiar, debunked myths about America’s legacy as a “Christian nation.”  AU's Legal team has called on the state's charter schools board to  remove the textbooks.
  • In Texas, the Religious Right is again pushing its revisionist take on American history, as the State Board of Education prepares to review its social studies textbooks.  The board has appointed a number of “experts” whose main credentials seem to be that they skew toward the far right. One appointee - a pastor with two theology degrees and no background as a teacher or an historian - believes there’s no such thing as the separation of church and state. And in fact, only three out of over 140 appointees hold teaching positions.

These are serious challenges facing freedom from imposed religion in public schools. If we’re going to keep meeting those challenges, we need to muster all of the resources possible.
   
Your donation to AU today will help us make sure that public school classrooms remain the learning centers they’re meant to be – not trenches in the Religious Right’s culture war.
   
Americans United has already taken action against Religious Right schemes in several states. And we know from experience that these incidents won’t be the last ones to plague our schools this coming academic year. Your community may be next!

Please donate to AU today to help us respond wherever and whenever necessary.

One thing is clear from each of these situations: The Religious Right doesn’t care about making sure our children get a quality education.

These zealots care about pushing their dogmatic, revisionist take on American history.

They want to win souls, not educate.

And their agenda needs to stay in the church, and out of our public schools.

Americans United has been a dedicated – and successful – advocate for objective education in public schools since our founding in 1947. That advocacy wouldn’t be possible without the steadfast support of members like you.

Now, we need your support again.  Please donate today.  Thank you!
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Americans United, Allies File Suit Against Florida Private School Tax-Credit Program

posted Aug 28, 2014, 7:46 AM by AU Triad NC   [ updated Aug 28, 2014, 7:51 AM ]


Plan Violates State Constitution And Should Be Struck Down, Church-State Watchdog Says

August 28, 2014
A Florida program that offers tax credits to patrons of private, mostly sectarian schools violates state constitutional provisions prohibiting tax-subsidized aid to religious schools and guaranteeing a uniform public education, Americans United for Separation of Church and State says.

In a lawsuit filed today in the Second Judicial Circuit Court for Leon County, Americans United joined the National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers and the Florida Education Association to argue that the program shares the same flaws that ultimately condemned the state’s previous voucher system, the Opportunity Scholarship Program. The state supreme court struck down that program in 2006.

The complaint in McCall v. Scott notes that the overwhelming majority of private schools participating in the current program are sectarian and added, “[T]he Florida Constitution provides in pertinent part that ‘[n]o revenue of the state or any political subdivision or agency thereof shall ever be taken from the public treasury directly or indirectly in aid of any church, sect, or religious denomination or in aid of any sectarian institution.’”

Read the rest of this press release at au.org »

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