Written by Don Byrd

Every week, when researching the blog, I run across interesting reads on church-state topics that for whatever reason I don’t turn into separate blog posts. It might be a local news story, a piece of commentary, even a letter to the editor. Here are a few from this week that I thought might interest you:

  • Writing for alabama.com, John Ragosta takes a brief tour through the history of church-state separation, which he suggests may be helpful to Alabama voters considering their upcoming election for U.S. Senate. He writes, “Human nature makes it more difficult to appreciate fully the problems when the government happens to support ‘your’ group.” 
  • Scott Moore, from the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, published an op-ed in the Houston Chronicle explaining why he joined 4,000+ faith leaders in signing the letter (organized by the BJC and others) urging Congress to protect the Johnson Amendment. “Houses of worship … are the perfect vehicles for community engagement,” he writes. “They are NOT the perfect places for partisan political rallies.”
  • The Anti-Defamation League’s David Barkey penned a letter to the editor (“Religious Coercion Has No Place in Public Schools,” August 22, 2017) at Education Week taking issue with some elements of a recent column arguing for more religion in the classroom. Barkey expresses his concerns that a new Florida law could authorize, in the name of religious freedom, activities that are religiously coercive of students.
  • Melissa Rogers, former BJC General Counsel and former head of President Obama’s White House of Neighborhood and Faith-Based Partnerships, tweeted Friday morning that a new White House rule governing the contraception mandate could be issued that day, if Ralph Reed was correct in suggesting that such action would take place before the end of the week. After watching through the final Federal Register posting of the week, however, she noted that the rule had not appeared. Still, it may be on its way. Stay tuned.

What are you reading or writing on church-state issues? E-mail me or contact me through Twitter (@BJCBlog) and let me know. I may add your suggestion to our weekend reading list!