Rep. Duncan D. Hunter of California is trying. Yesterday, he introduced the War Memorial Protection Act, a bill that would enshrine into law the ability for federal war memorials in the public square, like the one in Coos Bay, Oregon, to include religious symbols. It’s a direct response to moves by groups like the Freedom from Religion Foundation and Americans United for Separation of Church and State who make it their business to, well, separate church (the crosses and other religious symbols) from state (the U.S. government’s memorials, existing on public property and paid for with public funds).
The bill would be all the more remarkable if it were a new idea. But it isn’t. Last year, in fact, the U.S. House passed by voice vote the same act, also introduced by Hunter.
Two groups that sued to stop the display of a Jesus portrait in a school district’s middle school now want the portrait removed from the wall of a high school where it was moved last month.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio and the Madison, Wis.-based Freedom from Religion Foundation filed a federal lawsuit in February charging that the portrait, which was then displayed in the Jackson City Schools middle school, unconstitutionally promotes religion in a public school. They filed an amended complaint Monday, asking the court to also prohibit the portrait from display in the high school for the same reason.
School officials said last month that the portrait was moved at the preference of a Christian-based student club the southern Ohio district views as its owner. School officials said then that taking the portrait down would censor students’ private speech.
School district offices were closed Monday night, and school officials did not immediately return a message seeking comment. The 2,500-student district is in Jackson, a city of about 7,000 residents in mostly rural Appalachian Ohio.
The superintendent of the Jackson City Schools, Phil Howard, said last month that the portrait was moved at the request of the Hi-Y club, which put it up in 1947 in a building that is now the middle school.
The complaint about the portrait has left the district in the midst of an ongoing national debate over what displays of religion are
Updated with the link
A First Amendment watchdog group is suing the Internal Revenue Service for failing to challenge the tax-exempt status of churches whose pastors engage in partisan politicking from the pulpit.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation, which advocates total separation of church and state, filed the lawsuit Wednesday (Nov. 14) in U.S. District Court in Western Wisconsin, where the 19,000-member organization is based.
The lawsuit claims that as many as 1,500 pastors engaged in ‘Pulpit Freedom Sunday’ on Sunday, Oct. 7, when pastors endorsed one or more candidates, which is a violation of IRS rules for non-profit organizations.
IRS rules state that organizations classified as 501 (c) (3) non-profits — a tax-exempt status most churches and other religious institutions claim — cannot participate or intervene in ‘any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any political candidate.’