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is the Communications Associate for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and appears courtesy of AU.

Paying For The Pope?: Pa. Government Seeks Taxpayer Funds For Costs Associated With Papal Visit

Simon Brown

Pope Francis will visit the United States in September, with scheduled stops in Philadelphia, New York City and Washington, D.C. But as the date of his arrival draws nearer, it seems some localities are concerned about the costs associated with a papal visit – so they’re looking for a taxpayer bailout. Read more

Simon Brown

A federal judge recently ruled that it’s perfectly fine for a Ten Commandments monument to remain on government property because the people who complained about the display couldn’t prove that they were sufficiently offended by it. Read more

ten commandments, Decalogue, Pennsylvania, Judge Terrence McVerry, Freedom From Religion Foundation, Fraternal Order of Eagles
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Simon Brown

An employee at a county clerk’s office in Indiana who was fired because she refused to process marriage licenses for same-sex couples claims her “religious freedom” rights have been violated. So now she’s suing.

Linda Summers, an employee in Harrison County, was fired last year for her refusal to fully perform her job requirements – specifically issuing marriage licenses for all qualified couples. Read more

Linda Summers, Harrison County Clerk, religious freedom, Marriage Equality, Sally Whitis, Indiana
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Simon Brown

A Florida pastor thinks he has the solution to reducing theft in the United States, and it has nothing to do with law enforcement.

As far as the Rev. Garry Wiggins of Evangel Temple Assembly of God in Jacksonville is concerned, school-age children are being prevented from learning basic morals – including that theft is wrong – because of the pesky constitutional principle of church-state separation. Read more

Garry Wiggins, Florida, First Amendment, Evangel Temple Assembly of God
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Simon Brown

A Mississippi school district is in hot water after it invited a Christian pastor to deliver a prayer at a school function, in violation of a court order. But the best (worst) part of this story is the district’s excuse for the violation: its administrators are incapable of understanding the First Amendment. Read more

American Humanist Association, Gracie Bedi, Northwest Rankin High School, Mississippi, Gideons International, Judge Carlton W. Reeves
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Simon Brown

When it comes to religion-based refusals, much of the focus in recent months has been on issues that stem from the widespread legalization of marriage equality. But there are other significant battles pertaining to “religious freedom,” one of which is the ongoing war some nonprofits are waging against birth control. Read more

Affordable Care Act, Notre Dame, Little Sisters of the Poor, Ted Cruz, Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, birth control, contraception mandate
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Simon Brown

This week, Americans United launched a new initiative, Protect Thy Neighbor (PTN), which is intended to stop religious zealots from using “religious freedom” as an excuse to discriminate against others. Unsurprisingly, those who are intent on discriminating against LGBT persons and others were none too happy about AU’s announcement.

Family Research Council (FRC) President Tony Perkins took to one of FRC’s many publications to denounce AU’s work as evidence of Christian “persecution.” Read more

Tony Perkins, Protect Thy Neighbor, Bill O’Reilly, Sam Brownback, Marriage Equality, Barry Lynn
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Simon Brown

The Oklahoma Supreme Court recently said a Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of the capitol building in Oklahoma City is unconstitutional. This is not only a big win for those who value church-state separation, it’s also a serious blow to the idea that government-sponsored religious symbols are merely ceremonial. Read more

Oklahoma, ACLU, ACLU of Oklahoma, Dr. Bruce Prescott, Jim Huff, OKlahoma Supreme Court, Decalogue, Ten Commandments Display
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Simon Brown

A state court in California has put a stop to a vicious and vindictive ballot initiative that would have allowed gays in California to be executed. (You read that right – executed.) Read more

Sodomite Suppression Act, Matt McLaughlin, Judge Raymond Cadei, Kamala Harris, Toni Atkins, California, Decision Day Countdown
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Simon Brown

How far does the Religious Right intend to go with its argument that “religious freedom” shields Christians who refuse to serve entire groups of people? The recent case of a Maryland disc jockey who declined to provide his services for a gay man’s birthday party may offer some insight. Read more

Ultrasound Deejays, Michael Lampiris, Maryland, Tom Tsakounis, Montgomery County Human Rights Commission
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