Magazine article Free Inquiry

September 11 Fallout Hits Secularists. (Church-State Update)

Magazine article Free Inquiry

September 11 Fallout Hits Secularists. (Church-State Update)

Article excerpt

Church-State Update tracks continuing developments in important federal, state, and local church-state issues. Each item is preceded by an up arrow ([up arrow]) or a down arrow ([down arrow]), based on the story's implications for separation of church and state and the rights of the nonreligious.

[down arrow] After 9/11, Religious Outbursts Trample Liberties. More than the Twin Towers collapsed on September 11. Across the country, religious liberty protections that non-Christians have relied on for more than four decades are being swept away.

When the Roxbury, New Jersey, school district forbade grade schools to display "God Bless America" posters to show respect for non-Christian students, public backlash forced the superintendent to rescind the order. By a vote of 404-0, the U.S. House of Representatives encouraged public schools to ignore diversity concerns and post the exclusionary slogan. North Carolina passed a law allowing public schools to post the Ten Commandments unaccompanied by other documents.

School prayer is also on the comeback trail. By a 297-125 vote the House passed another nonbinding resolution, urging public schools to set aside time for prayer. Texas Governor Rick Perry orchestrated a public middle-school rally featuring minister-led Christian prayer. Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee declared October "Student Religious Liberty Month"; the Greenbrier, Arkansas, school district responded by approving recitation of the Lord's Prayer over the loudspeaker system at football games. Florida's lower house passed a law permitting student-led prayer in schools.

Representative Ernest Istook (ROkla.) announced his third effort to pass a constitutional amendment letting government-sponsored religion in public places.

Target groups got the message. The secular humanist group Red River Freethinkers (Fargo, North Dakota) abandoned plans to seek removal of a Ten Commandments marker from a public plaza. …

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