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Religious Freedom Day: For A Real Celebration, Go To The Source

Jan. 16 is Religious Freedom Day. As American holidays go, this one tends to be overlooked. It's not even listed on my desk calendar.

That's a shame, because Religious Freedom Day commemorates an important event: passage of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. This landmark legislation, drafted by Thomas Jefferson and maneuvered through the Virginia legislature by James Madison, became law on Jan. 16, 1786. Scholars consider it a precursor to the First Amendment and a vital step along the way to securing the separation of church and state.

Mending Wall: A Reflection On Good Barriers And Bad Ones

In his poem "Mending Wall," poet Robert Frost wrote, "Before I built a wall I'd ask to know what I was walling in or walling out."

Today, on the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, that's a point worth pondering. There are good walls and bad ones.

Too Many 'Nones'?: Religious Right Bothered By 'Do-It-Yourself' Spirituality

A new survey about religion in America has the Religious Right all worked up.

Researchers at Trinity College in Hartford noted a sharp rise in the number of Americans who, when asked to state their religious preference, replied "none." According to some polls, this bloc of Americans now accounts for about 15 percent, and Trinity researchers say it may rise to 20 percent by 2030.

Jefferson & Obama v. Hannity & Rove: You Know Who's Gonna Win This Bout

The partisan pugilists over at Fox News Channel have been howling about President Barack Obama's insistence that America is a pluralistic nation that respects all faiths.

Obama, you may recall, said during his recent visit to Turkey that the United States is "a secular country that is respectful of religious freedom, respectful of rule of law, respectful of freedom...."

A New Year's Greeting For The Ages: Jefferson's Jan. 1 Letter To The Danbury Baptists Still Rings True

I love Thomas Jefferson's New Year's Day greeting to the Danbury Baptists in part because it drives the Religious Right into such paroxysms of paranoia, ignorance and intemperance.

As I'm sure most of you know, President Jefferson sent a friendly missive to his Baptist admirers in Connecticut on Jan. 1, 1802. He thanked them for their support of him and of religious liberty. He also celebrated the First Amendment's religious liberty provisions and expressed sympathy for the Baptists' plight in a state where religious minorities still faced government hostility.

Religion And Congress: Scholars Say Congress Is Becoming More Pluralistic

Andre Carson is a Muslim. Jared Polis is Jewish. Dina Titus is Greek Orthodox.

Does it matter? Maybe. Maybe not.

Carson, Polis and Titus are three members of the 111th Congress. On Jan. 6, they and their 532 colleagues will be sworn into office. They will hold hearings, draft legislation and enact laws that affect all of us. Their religious affiliations are important only to them, as long as they respect the constitutional separation of church and state.

Saddleback Sideshow: Presidential Professions Of Faith Distract Voters From The Core Issues Of The Day

Right-wing Fox News Channel host Sean Hannity got all cranky on the air the other night about Americans United Executive Director Barry W. Lynn's complaints regarding the recent presidential forum at Saddleback Church.

"Who cares what Barry Lynn says?" he blustered, after cohost Alan Colmes, in an exchange with Pastor Rick Warren, cited Lynn's take.

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