Saturday, August 23, 2014

Monument least in Court

The author standing beside the contested monument pointing out areas of  corrected spelling
Photo courtesy of David Glover

Dr. Bruce Prescott, along with Jim Huff, was a founding member of the Oklahoma City chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church & State (  Both men are among the plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Oklahoma affiliate to challenge the placement of the alleged privately-funded Ten Commandments monument on the north side of the Capitol Building.

Here is a link posted by Bruce on his blog containing a portion of his affidavit filed this week in Oklahoma County District Court.

Though atheist myself I can sympathize with the diminution of religious belief conveyed by secular courts as outlined in paragraph 7 of the affidavit:

7.      Many Baptists, as well as many other people of faith -- Jewish, Christian and Muslim -- continue to affirm that the Ten Commandments are properly understood to be the terms of a religious covenant between God and people of faith.   Among them some, like myself, are horrified when attempts are made to have secular courts of law rule that the terms of this sacred and holy covenant no longer have any religious significance and meaning.   In the long run, I believe the effect of such rulings serves to undermine sincere faith by trivializing the value of religious covenants.

This additional link from the ACLU of Oklahoma frames the argument being made for removing the monument from public property:

“The monument’s placement at the Capitol has created a more divisive and hostile state for many Oklahomans,” said Ryan Kiesel, ACLU of Oklahoma’s Executive Director. “When the government literally puts one faith on a pedestal, it sends a strong message to Oklahomans of other faiths that they are less than equal.” 

The lawsuit, filed in Oklahoma County District Court, seeks to have the religious monument removed, citing the constitutional prohibition on using state property to support particular religions or sects.
Author's note:  All comments and excerpts are chosen by me and should  be read as reflecting my views.

Friday, August 22, 2014

AU Welcomes Obama Administration’s Fix On Birth Control Access

Americans United Welcomes Obama Administration’s Fix On Birth Control Access

Church-State Watchdog Group Says Latest Effort At Accommodation May Not Resolve Controversy

“At some point,” Lynn said, “we must face that fact that this debate is not about ‘religious liberty.’ It is about certain religious groups trying to impose their out-of-touch theology on unwilling American workers and students.”
Americans United for Separation of Church and State today expressed support for new regulations issued by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that are intended to ensure workers’ access to birth control.
The Obama administration issued the regulations in response to ongoing legal action by for-profit corporations and religious non-profit groups arguing that they have religiously based objections to contraceptives.
Under the new rules, groups that wish to opt-out of providing birth control to their employees must notify HHS via a letter stating their objection. The federal government will then arrange for a third-party insurer to provide birth control coverage at no cost to the employer.
The administration is also soliciting comments on how best to deal with ensuring birth control access for people who work at closely-held corporations, such as Hobby Lobby stores.
“Americans rely on access to safe and affordable forms of birth control,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “It’s unfortunate that the administration has had to jump through so many hoops to meet the demands of ultra-conservative religious groups that refuse to accept cultural realities.”
Lynn said the latest accommodation, while well-intentioned, may not resolve the matter. Some fundamentalist Christian groups and the Roman Catholic bishops, he asserted, are determined to deny access to birth control to as many Americans as possible.
“At some point,” Lynn said, “we must face that fact that this debate is not about ‘religious liberty.’ It is about certain religious groups trying to impose their out-of-touch theology on unwilling American workers and students.”
Americans United is currently representing three graduate students at the University of Notre Dame whose access to birth control has been threatened because of university policies opposing contraceptives.

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.