First Freedom First: A Citizen's Guide to Protecting Religious Liberty and the Separation of Church and State

By C. Welton Gaddy; Barry W. Lynn | Go to book overview

Strengthening Democracy: Confronting
Challenges and Seizing Opportunities

Political action must accompany public education if we are to halt the erosion and shore up the strength of religious liberty. Frankly, the lack of support for religious freedom has reached such crisis proportions that corrections must be made by civil legislation as well as by public education. While attempting to change the minds of Americans who have no sense of the meaning and importance of religious liberty, simultaneous efforts must be under way to counter what is happening in government that is detrimental to the preservation of religious liberty.

No branch of government can be ignored. Since 2001, the executive branch of our government has used the power of executive order to circumvent the resistance of Congress to directing federal funds into religious programs. White House staff members have brought Religious Right leaders into the innermost circles of decision making and sent them out as evangelists of the administration’s message regarding “the wonder-working power” of faith-based initiatives. The judicial branch of government has demonstrated an alarming shift toward deference to religious majorities. As newly configured with the addition of Chief Justice Roberts and Associate Justice Alito, the high court seems willing to allow government intrusion into houses of worship, and to give a pass to decisions that, for many, portend tolerance of an official unofficially established religion. (During this same period, though, the United States Senate has prevented a bill authorizing and funding

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