Yesterday a subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee convened a hearing on “The State of Religious Liberty in America.” It was supposed to be yet another installment in a long-running series: opponents of LGBTQ equality and reproductive rights seek to promote discrimination under the guise of religious freedom.
I was born in the United States, as were my parents and three-quarters of my grandparents. I was educated at public schools, I pay taxes and I vote. I’ve spent most of my adult life working as a journalist and now for an organization that advocates for religious freedom, so you could say I live and breathe the First Amendment.
But according to a third of my fellow citizens, I’m not “truly American” because I’m not a Christian.
“Wait, aren’t church and state already separate?” I’ve been asked this question many times; enough that it has inspired me to come work with an organization that has fought for 70 years to ensure they do stay separate. My name is Erica and I am the communications intern at Americans United for Separation of Church and State this spring.
On Tuesday, the White House issued a statement, claiming President Donald Trump is “respectful and supportive of LGBTQ rights.” The very next day, though, we saw a draft executive order that contains perhaps the most sweeping attack on LGBTQ and women’s rights in the name of religion that we have ever seen.
President Donald Trump had a lot to say this morning at the National Prayer Breakfast, an annual gathering in Washington, D.C., that is sponsored by the evangelical Fellowship Foundation and typically brings together the president, members of Congress and other dignitaries for a series of meetings and meals.
The bad news: At least one legislator wasted no time in re-introducing a bill that would roll back the so-called Johnson Amendment, which prohibits nonprofit organizations, including houses of worship, from endorsing or opposing candidates for public office.
It’s a new year and a new Congress, but a familiar piece of legislation already has darkened the door of the U.S. Capitol.
U.S. Rep. Walter B. Jones (R-N.C.) wasted no time in resuming his efforts to roll back the prohibition on nonprofits endorsing or opposing political candidates. On Tuesday – the first day the 115th Congress was in session – Jones introduced H.R. 172 to “restore the Free Speech and First Amendment rights of churches and exempt organizations by repealing the 1954 Johnson Amendment.”
President-elect Donald J. Trump campaigned in part on a vow to repeal the Johnson Amendment, a federal law that bars tax-exempt groups, including houses of worship, from intervening in elections by endorsing or opposing candidates.
It’s been two weeks since Donald J. Trump was elected president, and his appointments and prospective picks for his administration thus far have been horrendous for church-state separation.
When Americans United Faith Organizer Bill Mefford road-tripped to North Carolina recently to speak at churches for a series of workshops on religion and politics, he knew bridging the gap between faith leaders and church-state separation would be an opportunity.
“The heart of all justice work is relationships,” Mefford said, and indeed, building relationships became thematic throughout his Sept. 19-23 trip.