Category Archives: Government and Religion

Americans United Responds to First Freedom Project

Americans United for the Separation of Church and State posted an article deriding the “First Freedom Project” as a means to undermine church/state separation and placate “the religious right.”  The AU was particularly put off by the DOJ’s support of the Salvation Army’s right to hire people that observed its beliefs even if it contracted work with the government, saying  “…thanks to the Justice Department, the Salvation Army” could now discriminate.  While the DOJ did file a brief in support of the Salvation Army, the AU fails to note that it was actually the judicial branch of the government that made the ruling and is therefore the one “to thank.”

DOJ Announces “First Freedom Project”

A Department of Justice press release announced the “First Freedom Project,” which is billed as an effort “to strengthen and preserve religious liberty throughout the nation.”  Included in the initiative is a “Report on Enforcement of Laws Protecting Religious Freedom” over the last five years as well as a new website, www.firstfreedom.gov.  A public initiative to support the freedom of religion is a welcome sight in modern times that seem to prefer a separation of religion and public life.  (With credit to The Religion Clause blog for the point out.)

Weinstein’s Crusade, or Tilting at Windmills

Mr. Michael Weinstein has said his “fight is far from over” in his self-described war against evangelical Christianity in the military, despite the recent dismissal of his lawsuit against the Air Force Academy.  According to his blog, Weinstein believes that the suit was dismissed on a “technicality;” once that technicality is overcome, the suit will be renewed.  Judge James Parker dismissed the suit because it contained only “vague allegations” and no evidence of harm from people who lacked standing—because they weren’t cadets.  Weinstein was unfazed and said:

“Religious bias and the outrageous violations of the separation of church and state continue to spread rampantly throughout our military” and that the “military is full of evangelizing fundamentalists.”

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A Wiccan Symbol on a VA Memorial?

The Military Christian’s Response

Updated April 2007.  See bottom of page for most recent updates to this story.

Americans United for the Separation of Church and State (AU) is now representing Mrs. Roberta Stewart, the widow of fallen soldier SGT Patrick Stewart, in her dealings with the Veterans’ Administration (VA).  Mrs. Stewart is a Wiccan and desires to have a Wiccan symbol (a “pentacle,” an encircled five pointed star) placed on a VA-funded memorial plaque.  (Her efforts have also been reported in the Washington Post.)  To be clear, Mrs. Stewart is not seeking a headstone to place on an unmarked grave, as she has scattered her husband’s ashes elsewhere.  The plaque she seeks would be placed on a “Wall of Heroes” memorial at a veterans’ cemetery near Fernley, Nevada.  When notified that her pentacle was not authorized, the VA offered to produce a plaque with no emblem, but Mrs. Stewart declined.  The request for a pentacle was made in January of this year.  In June, the AU corresponded with the Veterans’ Administration on her behalf and demanded a response within 30 days to “avoid litigation.”  Read more

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