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Fla. Legislators Push To Turn Public Schools Into Mission Fields

John McGinnis Wall of Separation Another year, another attempt to encourage proselytizing in public-school classrooms. Last Thursday, the Florida Senate passed SB 436 by a vote of 23-13, almost entirely along party lines. A revised version in the House – HB 303 – will likely receive a floor vote in the House this week. Then […]

Rob Boston Wall of Separation Every few years, someone in the far-right fundamentalist Christian community puts forth the argument that modern American culture has become so nasty and hostile to “traditional” Christians that it’s time to withdraw. They don’t plan to go to a forgotten island somewhere. Rather, they would create a kind of community […]

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The Freedom From Religion Foundation is continuing to object to a massive cross in the main public plaza in a fabled New Mexican artistic community. A large cross sculpture sits in Taos Plaza. It is intended to be a memorial to the victims of World War II’s Bataan Death March and to all veterans. FFRF […]

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Nebraska Governor Signs Teachers’ Religious Garb Bill Into law

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Written by Don Byrd

Nebraska public school teachers can now wear habits, hijabs, and other religious clothing in their classrooms. Governor Pete Ricketts signed LB 62 into law, a bill repealing a 98-year-old provision prohibiting teachers from wearing religious garb.

News Channel Nebraska reports that a substitute teacher’s experience with enforcement of the antiquated law spurred this effort:

The Governor said the new law rights a wrong from 1919 when the state passed the religious garb rule under pressure from the anti-Catholic Ku Klux Klan. That law continued in obscurity with many not knowing it existed, including Scheer, until Sister Madeline Miller was told she could not wear her nun’s habit and be a substitute teacher for Norfolk Public Schools last year. She told Scheer and he went to work. He had to convince some in the Unicameral that abolishing the law still allowed for a separation of church and state.

“We aren’t discriminating against any religion here, we are trying to make sure that those that have a religious background aren’t discriminated against,” Scheer said.

On that last point, of course school administrators should be wary of religious activities on campus that faculty or staff join with students. But barring …read more

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Should Religiously Affiliated Hospitals Be Allowed To Ignore A Federal Law That Protects Employee Pensions?

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Liz Hayes Wall of Separation Today the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in a trio of cases that will decide whether religiously affiliated hospital systems must comply with federal pension protections. The large health systems don’t want to; they argue they should get a narrow exemption to the law carved out for houses of […]

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Atheist exposes Ark

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The Freedom From Religion Foundation is releasing a covert video today exposing Ken Ham’s Ark Encounter in northern Kentucky and we want you to see it first! FFRF Staff Attorney Andrew Seidel recently gained access to the taxpayer-funded park, revealing its efforts to lure public school students to creationism while discriminating against LGBT folks and non-Christians. ***WATCH THE […]

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Gorsuch Confirmation Hearings Don’t Allay AU’s Concerns

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Rokia Hassanein Wall of Separation Yesterday concluded the four-day Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings for President Donald J. Trump’s U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch. As we’ve written before, Gorsuch’s history as a federal appeals court judge indicates that he does not support true religious freedom. His performance during the hearings did nothing to […]

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Americans United And Its Allies File Lawsuit Challenging President Trump’s Muslim Ban 2.0

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Rokia Hassanein Wall of Separation Today, Americans United filed a lawsuit challenging President Donald J. Trump’s latest attempt at a Muslim ban. The suit seeks justice for Muslim Yemeni parents who were granted asylum in the United States and are now unable to get U.S. visas for two of their young children still stranded overseas […]

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FFRF raises alarm over Gideons’ access to Texas elementary school

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The Freedom From Religion Foundation is alarmed at the illegal access that a Texas school district provided to the Gideons for distributing bibles to elementary school kids. A concerned community member from Wichita Falls, Texas, contacted FFRF to report that on Feb. 24, several classes of students were taken out of their classrooms at West […]

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5th Circuit Upholds Student-Led Prayer Opening School Board Meetings

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Written by Don Byrd

It’s one thing for a government meeting to open with a solemn and respectful prayer delivered by a chaplain, or local member of the clergy. What if the meeting is a school board? And what if the person giving the prayer is a child attendee of a local public school?

This week, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a Texas school district may continue its practice of opening school board meetings with a student-led expression that is typically a prayer. The decision adds a new layer of interest to the question of when and under what circumstances the U.S. Constitution allows the government to open official proceedings with prayer, particularly when the public school system is implicated.

Here is a little background.

The Supreme Court in 2014 upheld “legislative prayer” led by area clergy to open commission meetings of the Town of Greece, NY, because the circumstances were not coercive, the prayers were not disparaging of other faiths or proselytizing, and the policy of choosing prayer-givers was not discriminatory. Both the 4th and 6th Circuits are currently (re)considering cases that explore the limits of that Supreme Court decision, Town of Greece v. Galloway.

In the context of school …read more

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