Category Archives: Government and Religion

Wiccan Lawsuit against VA Settled

Multiple press releases announced the settlement of the lawsuit against the Veterans’ Administration that sought to add the pentacle to the list of “approved” symbols of faith.  Under the terms of the settlement, the VA will add the symbol to the list.  The VA must also replace headstones previously provided to Wiccans with no marker.  Ironically, the AU has claimed ‘victory,’ though this agreement did not meet the AU’s previous request that the “unconstitutional” list of emblems be abandoned.

President Bush Announces National Day of Prayer

President Bush announces the annual National Day of Prayer here.  The day will be celebrated on May 3rd this year.  An interesting history of the tradition is contained in former President George H. W. Bush’s 1989 proclamation:

Since the approval of the joint resolution of the Congress on April 17, 1952, calling for the designation of a specific day to be set aside each year as a National Day of Prayer, recognition of such a day has become a cherished annual event. Each President since then has proclaimed a National Day of Prayer annually under the authority of that resolution, continuing a tradition that actually dates back to the Continental Congress, which issued the first official proclamation for a National Day of Prayer on July 12, 1775. By Public Law 100-307, the first Thursday in May of each year has been set aside as a National Day of Prayer.

It’s Wrong to Say, “You’re Wrong”

On 12 March 2007, General Peter Pace (bio), Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, gave an interview to the Chicago Tribune in which he was asked his thoughts on the current “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy of homosexuality in the military.  Part of his reply has been the center of some debate:

“I believe that homosexual acts between individuals are immoral and that we should not condone immoral acts… I would not want it to be our policy that if we were to find out that so-and-so was sleeping with somebody else’s wife, that we would just look the other way, which we do not. We prosecute that kind of immoral behavior.”

Literally hundreds of internet “blogs” and other media sources have pontificated about the General’s comments Read more

The First Freedom Project

A Department of Justice press release recently announced the “First Freedom Project,” which is billed as an effort “to strengthen and preserve religious liberty throughout the nation.” The announcement comes on the heels of President Bush’s proclamation for Religious Freedom Day (which was also virtually ignored by the press). 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. The Report is a 23MB file but is worth the read.

Of note, according to the Report, from 1992 to 2005 complaints of sexual discrimination increased 6%, national origin discrimination complaints increased 8%, and racial discrimination complaints increased 9%. Read more

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.”

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