Tag: church and state

June 16, 2016 / / Entanglement
image of a young girl praying from freeimages.com

Obvious violations of the first amendment in public schools can include a sign with an obvious religious message, a teacher proselytizing, or a school promoted event sponsored by a religious group that includes a sermon or prayer. There are, however, many smaller violations going on all the time that might be harder to see or stop. It takes all of us, checking into our local schools, to police these minor violations and to educate people about the 1st amendment.

Zack Kopplin wrote in ThinkProgress about the efforts of Focus on the Family to infiltrate public schools under the radar:

May 13, 2016 / / Courts
image of Former Ohio Governor George Voinovich poses in 1998 with the state seal and motto he had installed at the Statehouse
Former Ohio Governor George Voinovich poses in 1998 with the state seal and motto he had installed at the Statehouse

While cleaning out some old files, I came across a 1998 newspaper clipping that opposed the use of the Ohio state motto, ‘With God All Things Are Possible‘, as a lawn decoration at the statehouse. ACLU of Ohio v. Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board was the first separation of church and state case I followed closely. I published handcrafted web pages that included some thoughts about the case and the text of newspaper clippings from the time. Even 20 years later, the Ohio state motto is still religious.

Back in mid 90s, the Ohio Governor at the time, George Voinovich, had seen religious messages engraved onto government buildings while on a trade trip to India. He thought since the Ohio state house was getting a massive restoration at the time that it would be a good idea to engrave our religous state motto, ‘With God All Things Are Possible’, on the building.

May 6, 2016 / / Entanglement
screencap of Genoa (OH) High School Principal Cari Buehler
Genoa (OH) High School Principal Cari Buehler

This week the Genoa Ohio Local Schools removed an obvious religious sign posted in the High School that demanded the viewer to ‘Follow Christ’. Thanks to the work of the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) the district was reminded of its obligation to church and state separation and acted accordingly. It seems that the High school principal missed the point.

In a public Facebook post on May 1st, Genoa High School Principal, Cari Buehler, complained about having to take down the sign.

April 26, 2016 / / Entanglement
image of Religious Message wall sign similar to one seen in Genoa OH High School
Religious Message wall sign similar to one seen in Genoa OH High School

While watching local TV news on March 21st, during a story about a Genoa Ohio high school student who died in a traffic accident, the station reporter interviewed Cari Buehler, the high school principal, in front of a sign with an ‘inspirational’ message on it. Too bad it was a religious message. Now the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) is asking the school district to remove the sign.

The interview was on WTOL in Toledo, Ohio and the screencap below shows the religious sign.

April 16, 2016 / / Courts
image of Mathew Staver, face of the extremist religious group Liberty Counsel
Mathew Staver, face of the extremist religious group Liberty Counsel

If you thought there have been a recent rash of laws targeting the use of restrooms by trans people and also against LGBT people in general you are right. CBS News found the group responsible for the push in these bigoted laws is none other than the Liberty Counsel, an extremist religious conservative law firm connected to Liberty University run by Mathew Staver. Staver was the lawyer who helped ‘martyr’ Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis when she refused to do her job and issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

March 22, 2016 / / Entanglement
image of Ohio House of Represenatives in session
Ohio House of Represenatives in session. Photo by Joshua Rothaas Used with permission.

In Ohio, Substitute HB 425, also known as the Ohio Student Religious Liberties Act seems to codify rights in state law that public school students currently enjoy from the 1st amendment of the US Constitution and that have been affirmed through various court cases over the years. Why would a GOP majority seem to want to protect religious freedom for students? To give cover to discriminate and bully LGBT students of course.

A majority of the HB 425 just rehashes current legal precedents covering religious freedom in the public schools. As the Columbus Dispatch put it: