Saturday, July 31, 2010

OKC Chapter Annual Meeting

Americans United for Separation of Church & State

OKC Chapter


Thursday, Sept. 30, 20106:00 pm

Dutch Treat Dinner

7:00 pm Annual Business Meeting

Speakers:Jo Davis -- Women's Rights & Religion

James Nimmo -- Gay/Lesbian Equality & Religion

Keynote Speaker Pending

Hometown Buffet, 3900 NW 63rd,

OKCCorner of NW Highway & NW 63rd

Questions call Jim Nimmo, 405-843-3651

Friday, July 30, 2010

"Undivided Church and State"

Arnold Hamilton, editor of the Oklahoma Observer, has a thoughtful article in today's Urban Tulsa Weekly that discussed the "Undivided Church and State" in Oklahoma.

After citing some of the seemingly endless examples of the push toward theocracy in Oklahoma, Hamilton focuses on the recent endorsement of a political candidate by Paul Blair's "Reclaiming Oklahoma for Christ" -- a religious non-profit organization receiving tax deductible contributions. Hamilton concludes:

Read the rest at:

more background at:

Weekly Blog, July, 2010

Wall of Separation is a weekly blog from Americans United for Separation of Church & State

July, 2010--

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Reclaim Claims Innocence -- Kern Concurs

Edmond-based religious nonprofit noticed by national organization for separation of church and state

Read their quotes in the complete Gazette story here:

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Theocrats Preaching to the Oklahoma Choir

Theocrats Preaching to the Oklahoma Choir

countered by

Argument for the Saner Side of Secular Government
from OKC chapter of
Americans United for the Separation of Church and State


This week's edition of the Oklahoma Gazette has a cover story about last weekend's gathering of the Reclaiming America for Christ movement headed by Paul Blair, colleague of GOPer Rep. Sally Kern.

The writer of the Gazette story, Greg Horton, asks the rhetorical question why preach to the choir in Oklahoma, the seventh most religious state in the union.

You'll have to read the rich reply given by Blair at this link:

An argument for the saner side of secular government was made by Mike Fuller, president of the Oklahoma chapter of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. ( )

Mr. Fuller had this to say: "...groups like Reclaiming Oklahoma are troubling because [Fuller] believes "they want to establish a theocratic form of government.”

“And not just any theocracy,” Fuller said, “a Christian theocracy. The Founding Fathers were keenly aware that true religious liberty can be achieved and protected only when the government remains neutral on religious matters.”

I would like to know if IRS tax regulations were violated as the Gazette story claims Blair's Reclaiming organization was sponsor of the "Rally for Sally" held earlier this summer in the Warr Acres (Oklahoma) Community Center. The "Sally" in question is GOPer Rep. Sally Kern who is running for re-election against Demo opponent Brittany Novotny.

Remember, Paul Blair is already challenging IRS tax regulations as he has openly endorsed political candidates from his pulpit at Fairview Baptist Church in Edmond in October of 2008 endorsing the GOPer presidential ticket. ( or )

Blair has also protested the passage of the Matthew Shepard/James Byrd Hate Crimes Law in November of 2009 claiming the law violates his ability to preach about the sin and salvation of gays and lesbians in America. ( or )

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Watchdog Group Had Filed Court Brief In Texas Case To Support Religious Freedom

July 12, 2010

A federal appeals court was right to rule that a Native American student in Texas may wear his hair long for religious reasons, says Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Friday in favor of Adriel Arocha, an elementary school student. Arocha and his family had challenged a grooming policy at the Needville Independent School District that bans long hair for male students.

“This boy wants to follow the teachings of his faith while attending school, and he should be able to do so,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director. “Public schools must never sponsor religious activities, but at the same time, they are obligated to allow voluntary student religious expression that doesn’t interfere with the rights of others.”

The Needville school district’s policy does not allow boys to wear their hair past their collars or over their eyes. School officials met with Adriel’s family but refused to grant them a religiously based exemption to the policy.

The appeals court agreed with the family. In a 2-1 ruling, it held that the school’s policy violates the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a state law ensuring religious liberty.

“As the district court found, [Adriel] has already recognized that he has been treated differently because of his hair,” the court held. “And, given that [Adriel] understands that his hair is part of the practice and expression of his Native American beliefs, the obvious lesson is that he is being treated differently because of his religion. This recognition risks feelings of shame and resentment, a risk that, while real now, will continue to grow.”

Americans United and the Anti-Defamation League filed a friend-of-the-court brief in A.A. v. Needville Independent School District, urging the court to rule in the boy’s favor. The brief was drafted by attorneys David Gossett and Maria Glover of the Mayer Brown law firm with input from AU Legal Director Ayesha N. Khan and AU Assistant Legal Director Richard B. Katskee.

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.

Court ruling in PDF available here:

Calif. Community College Should Not Impose Religion at Public Events, Americans United Tells Appeals Court

Watchdog Group Asks Court To Protect Religious Liberty Rights Of All Students And Faculty In Orange County Community College District

Americans United for Separation of Church and State has asked a federal appeals court to stop a Southern California community college from proselytizing and imposing prayers at public events.

The legal action comes in a lawsuit filed last year by Americans United on behalf of several students and faculty. At issue is the South Orange County Community College District’s practice of including prayer and other religious content in its events.

“Officials at these public schools are forcing religion on students, faculty and staff,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “Their actions are unconstitutional and insensitive, and it’s time for this to stop.”

Plaintiffs assert that school officials routinely sponsor official invocations at events for students and faculty at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, including scholarship-award ceremonies, commencements and training programs for faculty.

AU filed the lawsuit in November of 2009. In May, a federal district court denied AU’s motion for a preliminary injunction, saying the request was too broad – although the court conceded that some of the district’s actions might be unconstitutional.

In a legal document filed yesterday, AU asks the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn that ruling.

Document PDF can be seen here:

“Unless this Court intercedes, students and faculty will continue to be subjected to religiously divisive messages as the price for partaking of college life,” asserts the filing.

The Westphal v. Wagner lawsuit notes that students and faculty members have protested the mandatory prayers many times over several years. The student government of Saddleback College has twice passed resolutions opposing the prayer practice, and similar resolutions have been passed by the faculty’s Academic Senate of Saddleback College, the Academic Senate of Irvine Valley College, the statewide Academic Senate for California Community Colleges and the South Orange County Community College District Faculty Association.

Officials ignored the complaints and, in response, actually increased the religious content of these public events, attacking religious minorities and nonbelievers.

In August of 2009, Saddleback officials showed a video titled “God Bless the USA” during a faculty training session. The video included religious images and closed with two pictures of military personnel carrying a flag-draped coffin. Superimposed on those images was the following text: “Only two defining forces have ever offered to die for you. Jesus Christ and the American G.I. One died for your soul, the other died for your freedom.”

Making matters worse, attendance at some of these events is mandatory. For example, students who are awarded scholarships must attend a public ceremony or forfeit the financial aid.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit are: Karla Westphal, Alannah Rosenberg, Margot Lovett and Claire Cesareo-Silva, all professors at Saddleback College; Roy Bauer, a professor at Irvine Valley College; Ashley Mockett, a former student at Saddleback and two current Saddleback students who have chosen to remain anonymous.

The litigation is being conducted by AU Legal Director Ayesha N. Khan, AU Assistant Legal Director Richard B. Katskee and AU Madison Fellow Jef Klazen, as well as Christopher P. Murphy of Mayer Brown LLP in Los Angeles.

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.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Tension continues between freedom and governmental imposition of specific religious beliefs and practices

Library of Congress: original of Jefferson's Danbury Letter

Who would have thought that in 2010, that fight would now expand to ensuring Thomas Jefferson’s own place in the history of our independence?

Click here for an interesting display of Jefferson's working draft of the Declaration of Independence and the Danbury “Wall of Separation” letter:

Happy Independence Day