With most state legislatures starting their annual sessions this month, here is a look at some of the top threats to church-state separation expected in 2013, including school voucher bills, creationism ploys, “conscience” exemptions, anti-shariah legislation and so-called “religious freedom” and “prayer” caucuses.
1. Religious School Voucher Subsidies
Americans United anticipates proposals that benefit religious and other private schools to surface in many states this year, with major pushes expected in New Jersey, Wisconsin, Texas and Tennessee.
Many people fail to recognize the REAL motivation behind the introduction of school vouchers, which is to undermine the public school system, render the teacher's unions impotent, and reinsert THEIR version of a conservative and religious philosophy into the classroom.
2. Creationism In Science Class
Every year, legislators attempt to introduce religion into public school science classes.
Sen. Dennis Kruse (R-Auburn) proposed a bill last year that would have mandated the teaching of “creation science” alongside evolution in public schools.
That measure passed the Senate but died in the House after some lawmakers realized that it was blatantly unconstitutional and would have led to lawsuits.
Kruse is back with a new proposal, and this time he claims his goal is to promote critical inquiry in the classroom.
“If a student thinks something isn’t true, then they can question the teacher and the teacher would have to come up with some kind of research to support that what they are teaching is true or not true,” Kruse told the Indianapolis Star.
Once again a blatant attempt to insert religion into the science classroom.
3. Prayer And Proselytizing In Public Schools
Legislators regularly come up with new schemes to allow coercive prayer and proselytizing in public schools, and Americans United staffers expect this year to be no exception.
In Virginia, a proposal was filed just ahead of the 2013 legislative session that would create a state constitutional amendment to “secure further the people’s freedom of speech and right to acknowledge God” on public property and presumably in public schools. This could lead to numerous lawsuits if it passes.
Advocates of church-state separation said it is somewhat similar to Missouri’s deceptive “right to pray” amendment, a problematic constitutional provision approved by the voters last year. It opens the door for coercive prayer and proselytizing in public schools, allows students to skip homework if it offends their religious beliefs and infringes on the religious liberty rights of prisoners.
There is of course NO law stopping children from praying in schools. What these people want is to establish a law requiring the school to lead the children in a Christian prayer. With no regard for the religious faiths of other children in attendance. And THAT is unconstitutional.
4. ‘Conscience’ Exemptions
The news media has reported widely on the campaign by the Catholic bishops and the Religious Right to win “conscience” exemptions from provisions of the Obama health care reform, but this issue has also filtered down to the state level. Sectarian lobbies want to exempt religious institutions and individuals from a broad range of laws that ensure civil rights and civil liberties.
A leading proponent of this type of legislation is the Ethics and Public Policy Center (EPPC), a Washington, D.C., group that advocates public policy based on the “Judeo-Christian moral tradition.”
5. State ‘Prayer’ Caucuses
A similar movement to the one orchestrated by the EPPC is under way thanks to the efforts of U.S. Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.).
Forbes, a Religious Right favorite, is head of the Congressional Prayer Caucus. Through the Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation (CPCF), attempts are being made to establish “prayer caucuses” in every state legislature.
Gee I wonder if one of those "Prayer cacues" could be led by a Muslim? Or a Hindu? Or a Buddhist?
Yeah, I didn't think so!
6. Anti-Shariah Laws
The U.S. Constitution already prohibits government enforcement of religious law, but right-wing groups are insisting that legislatures take the extra step of banning shariah – Islamic law.
“These laws are a solution in search of a problem and motivated by sheer animus toward a perceived Muslim threat,” said AU’s Rolat.
Essentially these laws have virtually NOTHING to do with any fear of the implementation of Sharia Law in America, as that is not really an issue, and EVERYTHING to do with the establishment of America as being a "Christian Nation" whose laws must be derived from Biblical scripture. (I think you can guess which laws they would like to repeal, once that has been firmly established.)
The frightening thing about the Religious Right is that they invade local governments at all levels.
When Jerry Falwell first conceived of the Moral Majority, he focused on getting evangelicals onto school boards, on city assemblies, and in all kinds of local government offices, realizing that once they had a foothold they could simply branch out from there.
These are coordinated efforts to fight progress in America and an attempt to retain the stranglehold that Fundamentalists have been able to exert over much of our government for the last thirty years now. As they find their values and belief systems rejected by the younger generation, they are only more determined to indoctrinate them before they reach the age where their critical thinking skills are fully developed.
Remember, a civil war does NOT always have to rely on bullets to be effective.