Thursday, May 24, 2012

Phony ‘Religious Freedom’ Claims Of Catholic Hierarchy

Press Release

Bishops’ Lawsuits Seek To Impose Birth Control Ban Through Health-Care Policy, Says Americans United

Church-State Watchdog Group Blasts Phony ‘Religious Freedom’ Claims Of Catholic Hierarchy

The Roman Catholic hierarchy’s claim that its religious freedom is being violated by new health-care regulations is bogus, says Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

The bishops yesterday orchestrated a slew of lawsuits to attack an Obama administration regulation requiring health insurance companies to provide no-copay birth control to employees who want it.

Houses of worship are exempt from the mandate, but the bishops are trying to deny birth control coverage for employees at Catholic-affiliated institutions such as hospitals and colleges as well. They even want an exemption to cover secular businesses owned by Catholics.

“It’s important to expose these lawsuits for what they are: an outrageous assault on safe, effective and affordable birth control,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “To the bishops, ‘religious freedom’ means the right to force their dogma on the unwilling.”

Lynn pointed out that Catholic colleges, hospitals and social-service agencies receive massive amounts of taxpayer support. They serve and hire many non-Catholics. The bishops, said Lynn, should not be permitted to use taxpayer-supported, quasi-public institutions as vehicles to impose their doctrines on birth control.

The vast majority of American Catholics, Lynn noted, consider the bishops’ stand on contraceptives to be outdated and unrealistic, and they ignore it.

“The bishops haven’t been able to persuade their own flock to listen to them on birth control, so now they are attempting to use lawsuits to achieve the control they yearn for,” Lynn said. “The courts should reject this clerical power grab.”

Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.

Constitutional Separation of Religion and Tax Money Maintained...

...on paper, anyway.

HJR 1081 is dormant for this session

This resolution, with the sole sponsorship of GOP Rep. Jason Nelson, OKC, had it passed the Oklahoma Legislature, would have put on the November ballot a state question that would have revoked the separation of tax money from religious use of any kind (Article 2, sec 5 of the state Constitution,,_Oklahoma_Constitution).  It undoubtedly would have passed with a healthy majority, allowing tax money to be used for the exercise of religion, mainly christian.

Supporting Documents:
Bill Summary: HJR1081 INT BILLSUM.doc

Short Title:
Oklahoma Constitution; public money; sectarian purposes; ballot title; filing.

Primary Authors:


Constitutional Amendment, Public Finance, Vote of the People

Citation Type Comment Eff. Date
ART 2-5 REP          

Bill History:
Date Flags Chamber H Page S Page Text
2/6/2012 da H 146      First Reading
2/6/2012 da H 146      Authored by Representative Nelson
2/7/2012 da H 185      Second Reading referred to Rules
2/22/2012 da H 264      CR; Do Pass Rules Committee
2/22/2012 da H           Coauthored by Representative(s) Reynolds

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Pastor Who Proposed Imprisoning Gays Overstepped Federal Tax Law

Pastor Who Proposed Imprisoning Gays Overstepped Federal Tax Law With Election Intervention

A Baptist church in North Carolina violated federal tax law when its pastor intervened in the presidential election, says Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
Americans United today asked the Internal Revenue Service to investigate Providence Road Baptist Church in Maiden, N.C., whose pastor, Charles L. Worley, on May 13 delivered a sermon urging congregants to vote against President Barack Obama.
Americans United’s Project Fair Play encourages religious organizations to learn about the provisions of federal tax law. When churches or other religious groups flagrantly violate the law, AU files complaints with the IRS.
During an extended attack on Obama’s support for same-sex marriage, Worley suggested quarantining gays and lesbians and allowing them to die. These statements attracted much media attention, but AU says the IRS should not overlook the election intervention that accompanied the hateful remarks.

“Pastor Worley’s vicious and mean-spirited assault on gays and lesbians is bad enough,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “His pulpit command that people not vote for President Obama is a violation of federal tax law. I urge the IRS to act swiftly to investigate this matter.”

During the sermon, Worley referred to “our president getting up and saying that it was all right for two women to marry or two men to marry” and added, “I was disappointed bad.”
He then went on to observe, “Someone said, ‘Who ya gonna vote for?’ I ain’t gonna vote for a baby killer and a homosexual lover. You said, ‘Did you mean to say that?’ You better believe I did.”
In a letter sent to the IRS today, Lynn told the federal tax agency that Worley’s action is a clear violation of federal law, which prohibits all 501(c)(3) non-profit groups from intervening in elections by endorsing or opposing candidates.

“When the top official of a religious organization – the chief pastor of the church – issues an appeal to congregants from the pulpit during a worship service in the strongest possible terms to vote against a candidate, it is clearly intervention in an election,” Lynn wrote.

Americans United’s Project Fair Play encourages religious organizations to learn about the provisions of federal tax law. When churches or other religious groups flagrantly violate the law, AU files complaints with the IRS.
Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.

The complicity of silence

The complicity of silence


So now we will see whether The Church responds. 

Certainly there will be those who are asked and who will, naturally, say that they do not support such a notion. But will they be willing to call such a sermon evil or ungodly? Will they be willing to publicly refute Worley and chastise him? Are they brave enough to declare that such a proposition is anti-Christ and that it reflects a heart that is not right with God? Will whatever Baptist organization with which he is affiliated pull his license? 

These are not just reasonable responses, they are required responses. When a sermon calls for an act that is of such a level of evil, godly persons cannot stand by and claim that they have no responsibility.

AU to File Complaint on Worley

Minister to file complaint on Worley

Rev. Barry Lynn, the Founder and Executive Director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, wants a North Carolina pastor to lose his church's tax-exempt status for remarks against Obama's re-election during an anti-gay sermon.

Monday, May 21, 2012

IRS Should Investigate Kentucky Church

IRS Should Investigate Kentucky Church For Opposing Obama Re-Election, Says Americans United

Church-State Watchdog Group Says Baptist Pastor Violated Federal Tax Law By Calling For President’s Ouster During Services

A Kentucky church violated federal law when its pastor demanded the ouster of President Barack Obama during church services, Americans United for Separation of Church and State told the Internal Revenue Service today.

During a May 13 service, Pastor Ronnie Spriggs of Hager Hill Freewill Baptist Church in Hager Hill, Ky., demanded that Obama be voted out of office for supporting marriage equality for same-sex couples.

“You can say that’s political if you want to and blame me if you want to,” Spriggs observed, speaking from the pulpit during a Sunday service, “but I heard our president say something this week that I never thought I’d ever hear a president of the United States say. Did y’all hear that? He said that he believes that gays ought to have the right to marry in the United States. That’s the president of the United States who said that. Amen. I don’t know about you folks, but I’m going on record and I don’t care who knows it. I want the guy out.”

Asserting that “this country can’t afford that kind of ideology in that office,” Spriggs went on to exhort his congregation to get active between now and the November election. He added, “I want you to speak up in these next few months that are to come, and let’s not back this kind of ideology. Let’s get this out of the White House.”

Under federal law, houses of worship and other 501(c)(3) tax-exempt bodies may not intervene in elections by endorsing or opposing candidates.

Observed the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director, “Religious leaders have every right to address public issues, but they cannot turn their tax-exempt ministries into political action committees. If houses of worship want to be partisan and dive into electoral politics, they ought to give up their tax exemptions.”

In a letter to the IRS sent today, Lynn requested an investigation of the matter. He noted that Spriggs posted the sermon on a Web-based video-sharing service, giving it wider visibility.

“Pastor Spriggs informed his congregation that he wanted to see President Obama ‘out,’ meaning out of office,” wrote Lynn. “He said this twice, and went on to link the issue of same-sex marriage to the November presidential election. His message is clear: Congregants should vote against Obama.”

Added Lynn, “Pastor Spriggs has quite openly stated that Obama should not be re-elected. I believe this is a violation of the law, and I request the IRS investigate the matter.”
Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Health And Human Services Secretary Embraces Church, State Separation In Graduation Speech

Health And Human Services Secretary Embraces Church, State Separation In Graduation Speech

WASHINGTON -- Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius paid homage to religious freedom and the separation of church and state in a graduation speech Friday at Georgetown University that was briefly interrupted by an anti-abortion heckler. Catholic church authorities earlier had lambasted...

Render to Caesar? [Quigley Cartoon Blog]

Church vs. $tate: $71,000,000,000 to $0

Churches pay no taxes on the income or the property they own. It is estimated that this deprives the federal Government of at least $71 Billion a year.
Here's a breakdown of what churches get while not paying into the system, and while states fret over what cents on the dollar they get back from the federal government from the tax dollars collected.
  • Federal income tax subsidy $35.3 billion
  • State income tax subsidy $6.1 billion
  • Property tax subsidy $26.2 billion
  • investment tax subsidy $4.1 million
  • Parsonage subsidy $1.2 billion
  • Faith-based initiative subsidy $2.2 billion
Grand Total $71 BILLION
So churches take whatever money they can from the federal government, which comes from those who pay taxes. Some also have tithing as a requirement for salvation which is like a tax on their congregations. It appears that while others, not they, “render unto Caesar” that which is his, they eagerly wait in line for anything Caesar might give away. So those who own mega-churches and “Jesus Lands” are able to have many cars, multiple mansions, and fancy bling because they are spending the nontaxable contributions for all this in the name of the Lord, instead of feeding the hungry, aiding the sick, giving shelter to the homeless, or caring for those in need.

And while accepting a handout from taxpayers via the government, the churches tell their congregations who to vote for (usually those that are in their favor) and what bills to support. They don’t pay into it, but they constantly try to run the government. They also tell their congregations which groups of taxpayers to hate and reject, while also doing whatever they can to tamper with the inalienable rights of certain groups of citizens.

People duly elected to the Executive and Legislative branches of governemt pledge to uphold and defend the Constitution, not the Bible. They sometimes seem to forget that.

It seems wrong that if churches fail to win people over to their beliefs through teaching and example, they are allowed to force people to those beliefs by legislation. If I am not a Baptist, why should I as a citizen of this country be made to follow their beliefs by their being enshrined in civil law? If I am not Catholic, or Jewish, or Muslim or Budhist, why am I legislated into the beliefs of these religions?
The first Amendment states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”. It doesn’t say that religion or the tenets of them can be forced on people through legislation, especially when done by those who do not pay into the system, but do withdraw from it.

The free exercise of religion allows people to go to their church of choice and hold to whatever beliefs they choose. It does not mean they are free to force their religious beliefs on others, or attempt to infliuence the government to do this for them as well.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

AU Hails Court Ruling Against New York Town's Sectarian Prayer Policy

Press Release

Americans United Hails Court Ruling Against New York Town's Sectarian Prayer Policy

Greece’s Invocation Practice Unconstitutionally Affiliated Town With Christianity, Unanimous Federal Appeals Court Panel Holds

When the Greece, N.Y., Town Board regularly opened its monthly meetings with Christian invocations, it favored one faith over others and violated the U.S. Constitution, a federal appeals court said today.

In a unanimous decision by a three-judge panel of the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, Judge Guido Calabresi said “a given legislative prayer practice, viewed in its entirety, may not advance a single religious sect.”

Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which sponsored the litigation, hailed the verdict as an important win for religious liberty.

Said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United, “We are very happy with the court’s decision. Government meetings should welcome everyone. When one faith is preferred over others, that clearly leaves some people out.”

The Greece Town Board has a longstanding practice of inviting clergy to open the board’s monthly meetings with prayers. The board does not require that the prayers be inclusive and non-sectarian.

As a result, over the past decade, the vast majority of the prayers have been Christian. Official records showed that between 1999 and June 2010, about two-thirds of the 120 recorded invocations given before meetings contained references to “Jesus Christ,” “Jesus,” “Your Son,” or the “Holy Spirit.”

Two community residents, Susan Galloway and Linda Stephens, objected to the governmental preference for one faith, and Americans United filed a lawsuit on their behalf in 2008.

In his Galloway v. Greece opinion, Calabresi wrote: “We conclude that an objective, reasonable person would believe that the town’s prayer practice had the effect of affiliating the town with Christianity.”

Americans United Legal Director Ayesha N. Khan, who argued the case, was pleased with the outcome.

“This is a wonderful and well-reasoned decision,” she said. “I was particularly pleased that the ruling was unanimous, despite being issued by a panel of judges with varied perspectives about the law.”
Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Let's vote on the Christians's "special" rights

clip:...America's conservative Christians have enjoyed more special rights than just about anyone else.

If you are a Christian -- or a person of any faith, for that matter -- your chosen religious lifestyle is protected by every conceivable anti-discrimination law in every state. You even get exemptions from some secular laws. And you can give tax-deductible donations to a church or religious charity engaging in political action, even the elimination of the rights of others.

Of course, the Constitution of the United States protects religious freedom. But what if we somehow had a winning popular vote that Christianity was no longer considered a religion? Just like that -- no more legal protections under the Constitution. Still would like some rights as a Christian person of faith? Just choose a different religion to believe in. Isn't that what you're always telling gay people ... just "choose" to be straight, and presto -- no more problems. Maybe you'd like to try that now.

The 12 Best Reasons Why The U.S. Is Not Now, And Never Should Be, A Christian Nation

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Worship service, sermons, and prayers at the Capitol

Worship service, sermons, and prayers at the Capitol

National Day of Prayer in the Oklahoma State Capital May 3, 2012

Monday, May 7, 2012

2012 Spring Dialogue Videos

Prof. Joseph Thai Speaking at our 2012 Spring Dialogue

Approximately 35 minutes


Katherine Stewart at AU OKC Spring Dialogues 2012
Approximately 47 minutes

Dr. John Starkey at AU OKC Spring Dialogues
Approximately 27 minutes

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

National Day Of Prayer Improperly Merges Government With Religion, Says Americans United

National Day Of Prayer Improperly Merges Government With Religion, Says Americans United

Church-State Watchdog Group Says Annual Event Promotes Religious Right Agenda

The National Day of Prayer is just another attempt by the Religious Right to mix government with religion, says Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

The congressionally mandated National Day of Prayer, scheduled for May 3, has been largely hijacked by the Religious Right and is being used as an opportunity to promote a far-right religious-political agenda.

“This is really as much about politics as it is prayer, especially in an election year,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “Americans don’t need to be told when or whether to pray, so this is yet another excuse for those who oppose church-state separation to go on the attack.”

The National Day of Prayer (NDP) was created by Congress in 1952. Federal law requires the president to issue a proclamation calling on people to pray. Originally a floating observance, the NDP was mandated as the first Thursday in May by Congress in 1988 at the request of Religious Right groups that use the occasion to promote their theocratic agenda.

Many events around the country are being coordinated by the National Day of Prayer Task Force, a Colorado Springs-based Religious Right organization run by Shirley Dobson, wife of Focus on the Family founder James C. Dobson. The Dobsons oppose church-state separation and promote a fundamentalist Christian political agenda that often has a partisan flavor.

This year, the NDP Task Force chose David Jeremiah, a California pastor, as its honorary chairman. Jeremiah is known in the evangelical world for declaring President Barack Obama to be “a dangerous person” who is moving America “toward socialism and away from our historical moorings.”

Despite its sectarian and partisan overtones, NDP Task Force events are held each year at the U.S. Capitol and other government buildings, with government officials joining in.

“The National Day of Prayer has turned into a Religious Right soapbox in which constitutional protections against state entanglement with religion are often ignored,” said Lynn. “That’s why government at all levels should stop endorsing this misguided agenda.”

Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

"Historian" Not Bashful to Tell Lies

 Hat tip to Barbara Santee of Tulsa for this story


David Barton is infamous for claiming the United States is a Christian nation.  He claims to have done a lot of “research” attempting to prove this by taking quotes of the founding fathers out of context and using them to make him look correct.  Check out his biography at:

From: Sightings <>

Martin Marty Center for the Advanced Study of Religion
The University of Chicago Divinity School

Sightings 4/30/2012

David Barton’s Jefferson

-- Martin E. Marty

Our premier historian of late colonial and early republican America, Gordon Wood, while reviewing a book on Roger Williams warms up readers with references to Thomas Jefferson. “It’s easy to believe in the separation of church and state when one has nothing but scorn for all organized religion. That was the position of Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson’s hatred of the clergy and established churches knew no bounds. He thought that members of the ‘priestcraft’were always in alliance with despots against liberty. For him the divine Trinity “was nothing but ‘Abracadabra’ and ‘hocus-pocus’. . . Ridicule, he said, was the only weapon to be used against it.”

If you wanted to promote the idea of “a Christian America,” one which would privilege one religion, a version of Christianity, and de-privilege all others, and if you want to get back to roots and origins, the last of the “founding fathers” on whom you’d concentrate would be Jefferson. Yet the most ardent public and pop advocate of privilege and virtual establishment, David Barton, cites Jefferson for Bartonian positions which are directly opposite of Jefferson’s. Never heard of David Barton? Most of the historians you would ever meet never heard of him, and if you told them about him and his positions, they would yawn or rage about listing him among those who deal honestly with Jefferson.

Sightingsdoes not over-do ad hominem and sneering references, so we leave to others all the disdaining that Barton so richly merits. Do note, however, that he has invented a case and product which serve his viewpoint and draw him enormous followings among “conservative” factions which oppose separation of church and state in most cases except those they choose. Listen to Mike Huckabee or Glenn Beck or rightist cable TV and you will find Barton showing up everywhere.

His favorite founder seems to be Jefferson, of all people. How does he work his way around to the prime builder of “a wall of separation between church and state,” in the metaphor that would not be my favorite. Sample: Thomas Jefferson, razor in hand snipped all supernatural references out of his copies of the Gospels (in the four languages he read in White House evenings), to keep Jesus as a pure ethical humanist. This spring Barton is publishing The Jefferson Lies, which most historians would title Barton’s Lies about Jefferson. Astonishingly, he twists a slight reference to Jefferson’s book on Jesus and turns it into a tract which, Barton says, Jefferson would use in order to convert the Indians to Christianity. Reviewer Craig Ferhman in the Los Angeles Times found all that Barton found to be “outrageous fabrication.” On TV, Barton even said, with no evidence, that Jefferson gave a copy of his Jesus book to a missionary, to use “as you evangelize the Indians.” Had the Indians been converted with that text, their heirs would have had no place to go but to what became the humanist wing of the Unitarian-Universalist church.

Why does any of this matter? One, basic honesty is at issue; do American religionists need to invent such stories in order to prevail? Two, what if they did prevail? Most of the founders thought that religion was most honest and compelling when its leaders and gatherings did not depend upon lies about the state and, of course, upon the state itself. “Separation of church and state” is admittedly a complex issue, dealing as it does with inevitable conflict and messiness in a free and lively republic. May debates over it go on, but with honest references to Jefferson and his colleagues and not on the grounds David Barton proposes.


Gordon S. Wood, “Radical, Pure, Roger Williams <> ,” New YorkReview of Books, May 10, 2012.

People for the American Way, “David Barton’s ‘Outrageous Fabrication’ about Thomas Jefferson <> ,” Right Wing Watch, January 9, 2012.

Martin E. Marty's biography, publications, and contact information can be found at  <>


This month’s Religion& Culture Web Forum features “ <> Three Lights on the Queen’s Face: On Mixing, Muddle, and Mêlée” by Larisa Jasarevic. Jasarevic writes about encounters at a singularly popular therapist in Bosnia, Nerka, whom patients have lovingly titled “the Queen of Health.” In the midst of the new medical and magical market, sorcery and Koranic healing appeal to people inBosniairrespective of their religious backgrounds, upsetting the conventional image of Bosniaas forever divided by ethno-national-religious considerations. According to Jasarevic, Nerka irreverently puts into play and displaces the differences reified since the 1990s genocidal conflict. Beginning with Jean-Luc Nancy’s reluctant writing on identity and mixing--provoked by the Bosnian war and discourse of ethnic cleansing--Jasarevic's essay visits some local, ritual, and habitual responses to magical, medical, and religious mixing and paints a gathering around the impossibility of belonging. Read  <> Three Lights on the Queen’s Face: On Mixing, Muddle, and Mêlée.


Sightings comes from the  <> Martin Marty Center for the Advanced Study of Religion at the University of Chicago Divinity School.

Submissions policy

Sightings welcomes submissions of 500 to 750 words in length that seek to illuminate and interpret the intersections of religion and politics, art, science, business and education.  <> Previous columns give a good indication of the topical range and tone for acceptable essays. The editor also encourages new approaches to current issues and events.


Columns may be quoted or republished in full, with attribution to the author of the column, Sightings, and the MartinMarty Centerat the University of Chicago Divinity School.

Contact information

Please send all inquiries, comments, and submissions to Shatha Almutawa, managing editor of Sightings, at> Subscribe, unsubscribe, or manage your subscription at the Sightings  <> subscription page. Follow us on Twitter  <!/DivSightings> @DivSightings. Too many emails? Receive Sightings as an RSS feed. Sign up at  <>


Our mailing address is:
1025 East 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
tel: 773-702-8200 fax: 773-702-6048

Today's Sightings can be found at this URL:


Copyright © 2011 The University of Chicago Divinity School, All rights reserved.