Category Archives: Religious Liberty

EVENT on 4/24/17: Future of Public Ed in the Era of DeVos

amunited

Americans United for Separation of Church and State

Greater Houston Chapter

invites you to our Annual Meeting and Panel Discussion 

The Future of Public Education in
the Era of Betsy DeVos

Featuring:  Richard Carranza, Supt., Houston ISD; Zeph Capo, President of HFT,  Dr. John Ogletree, Pastors for Texas Children

Moderated by Juliet Stipeche
Director of Education, Mayor’s Office, City of Houston
 
Monday, April 24, 2017
Reception and Annual Meeting – 6:30 pm
Panel Discussion – 7:15 pm
 
Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston Event Center
3303 Main Street, Houston, Texas 
 
Event is free and open to the public          Free parking available
         RSVP appreciated:  americansunited.houstonchapter@gmail.com

 

 

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When Happy Holidays Wasn’t Offensive

mexmasWhen I was 19, I used to work for a company owned by a dude who was a Jehova’s Witness. Among his clients back in the early 90s were a major call center run by the state Republicans and one call center owned by a certain Bush consultant we all love to hate and blame. Now, I’m not sure the CEO voted or not as he was very conservative when it came to his religion. But he was a huge supporter of Republicans in one way or another. (I still remember the scowl on his face the day Ann Richards had her inaugural parade right outside 111 Congress and I had to control my huge smile as I delivered the company mail.)

During the Christmas holidays, he wouldn’t allow employees to have Christmas stuff decorating their desks because of his religion, and when we’d leave for the long holiday weekend which included Christmas, all we could say was “Have a nice holiday.” (We were instructed by our supervisors to ensure we didn’t offend him.)

So, when I hear Fox News and right-wingers and born-agains complaining about red cups and the War on Christmas, I always remember my old conservative boss whom I had no choice but to comply with. Luckily, I was a big liberal then and had no problem respecting his wishes and his religious freedom, while my co-workers complained in the breakroom.

Funny how the state Republican party and the big right-wing consultants who used his service never complained about him, but cause a huge ruckus about the “war” on Christmas that us lib’ruls are supposedly waging. And don’t get me started on the idiotic “politically incorrect” signage that some businesses put up, as if it makes them any more Christian or patriotic than anyone else.

Anyway, Happy Holidays, One and All!

Americans United: Bills Threatening Church/State Separation Defeated

I got some good news from Americans United for Separation of Church and State in the inbox. Some pretty awful bills were killed with the end of the Texas Lege session this week. Here’s the story:

The Texas legislature introduced a variety of bills that threatened to violate the separation of church and state that is vital to true religious liberty. But, thanks to your action and hard work, these bills were defeated! Here is an example of some of the problematic bills that did not pass:

Anti-Sharia Bills:Texas House Bills 562, 670, and 3698 did not mention Sharia law specifically, but were really motivated by anti-Muslim animus. Their purpose was to combat the unfounded fear that Sharia law could be applied in Texas courts. This precaution is unnecessary as Texas courts are already empowered to refuse to enforce foreign law judgments if they violate Texas and U.S. laws.  The bills’ only effect, therefore, would have been to spread anti-Muslim rhetoric.

Voucher Bills: Senate Bills 4, 642, and 1178, each would have created a different kind of voucher scheme. Whether in the form of a “scholarship,” “grant,” or tax credit, these voucher programs would have funneled taxpayer money into primarily religious schools, violating our country’s commitment to the separation of church and state.  Studies show voucher programs do not improve academic achievementor provide greater educational opportunities for disadvantaged students.  According to multiple studies of the District of Columbia, Milwaukee, and Cleveland school voucher programs, students offered vouchers do not perform better in reading and math than students in public schools. They also often lack accountability, oversight, and civil rights protections.

So-Called “Religious Freedom” Bills: The Texas legislature introduced over 20 of these so-called “religious freedom” bills that could have trumped the civil rights of all Texans, and the LGBT community in particular. House Bill 4105, which was later added to House Bill 2977, attacked marriage equality specifically. Even if the Supreme Court decides this month that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry, this bill would have prohibited state or local public funds from being used for an activity that includes the licensing, support, or recognition of a same-sex marriage. This bill would have also codified a particular religious view of marriage to the exclusion of other religious views held by many Texans.

House Bill 3864 would have allowed state-funded child welfare agencies to discriminate against potential parents for religious reasons. For example, adoption agencies could have refused to place a child in a good home with a same-sex couple, previously divorced individuals, or adherents to a religion with which they disagree. Not only would this bill have permitted government-funded discrimination, but it would have placed the child welfare agency’s interest above that of a child’s.

Thank you for contacting your legislators and helping us defeat these bills! There will be no legislative session in Texas in 2016, but please watch for our Federal action alerts and help to make a difference defeating bad bills in Congress!

As long as right-wing zealots exist, these bills will continue to re-appear. Thankfully, good activists exists who advocate for those who are constantly under attack.

Bigot Day at the Capitol

I guess y’all heard that the bigot circus came to the Capitol today.

Photo Credit: KERA

I’m sure this will be one of many, what, with the Muslim community doing some lobbying at the Capitol today, and Planned Parenthood having theirs soon, and Latinos and immigrant rights groups playing defense against the Republicans; the list goes on. I’m sure each lobbying day will have a coinciding Bigot Day at the Capitol like today’s. The difference from previous years is that Republican legislators (Molly White) seem to be encouraging the hate in obvious ways, instead of staffing it out (but I guess she did that, too).

In June, she took to the social network to pledge that “finding Jihadists in Texas and arresting them” and purging the state “of all Muslim, military training camps including Imam’s who promote, assist and encourage Jihad” would be among her top priorities as a legislator.

In the comments on that post, she warned her followers that “Muslims cannot be trusted no matter how peaceful they appear.”

“If they come here and convert to the American way of life I may be more willing to trust,” she continued. “When they come here to advance their way of life, Islam, then no trust there.”

And here I thought Debbie Riddle would never have competition.

I’m so looking forward to any immigration-related debates and the protestors who will show up. (Sarcasm)

Some say this kind of hate is not representative of Texas; unfortunately, when hate takes the form of Texas public policy, one cannot deny what Texas has become.

 

 

 

Save the Date: SEP 9 ~ AU’s Rob Boston Presentation

AUBoston

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Bishop Gene Robinson in Houston – October 3

bishopgene

 

Click image to buy your tickets.