This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.

Diverse groups reach 'first-ever consensus' on religion & US law

http://www.examiner.com/examiner/x-8947-LA-Atheism-Examiner~y2010m1d12-Diverse-groups-reach-firstever-consensus-on-religion--US-law

When you hear about members of groups like the conservative American Center for Law and Justice or the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission meeting with the ACLU or the First Freedom Center, you're unlikely to think it's because they agree on anything... but that's what just happened. On January 12, representatives of these groups and others held a press conference at the Brookings Institute in Washington DC to announce the signing of a document entitled RELIGIOUS EXPRESSION IN AMERICAN PUBLIC LIFE: A Joint Statement of Current Law.

It's a consensus agreement on how the law affects individual, business and governmental expressions of religion. It's not a wish list, because many of the signers have very different ideas of what the law should be; it's merely a joint recognition of what the law currently is. The need for such a statement is important to the signers though, because there is so much confusion about the law in public discussions.
“There has been an incredibly brain-dead discussion about religious expression in American public life in so many contexts," said signer Melissa Rogers, director of the Wake Forest center and former general counsel for the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, "and part of that brain-dead nature of the conversation is that there are so many false claims” about what the law actually says about the protections for, and limits upon, individual, group and governmental expressions of religious faith."

The signers hope the document will not only clear up some of the public confusion about current law, but aid in the debate over what the law should be in the future. Referring to earlier consensus statements on religious expression in schools, Charles Haynes, a senior scholar at the Freedom Forum’s First Amendment Center in Washington, said, “Based on the track record of these past agreements, I am convinced that this new joint statement, covering a wide range of issues, can and will play a significant role in preventing litigation and promoting civil public discourse.”

In the works since 2005, the new document covers a lot more territory than earlier ones and there are numerous things in it for each group to love... or hate. Take consensus item #24, May legislative bodies hire chaplains and open legislative sessions with official prayers? The answer is "yes". The signers acknowledge that such practices have an "unambiguous and unbroken history" going back 200 years that the Supreme Court (March v. Chambers) concluded has become part of the fabric of our society and that the draftsmen of the Constitution did not see as a threat to the Establishment Clause.
...
Continue reading
http://www.examiner.com/examiner/x-8947-LA-Atheism-Examiner~y2010m1d12-Diverse-groups-reach-firstever-consensus-on-religion--US-law

TAGGED: COMMENTARY, LAW, RELIGION


RELATED CONTENT

Viewpoints: Why is faith falling in the...

- - BBC News Comments

A new poll suggests that atheism is on the rise in the US, while those who consider themselves religious has dropped. What's the cause? Two writers debate.

Blasphemy Laws Exposed: The...

- - human rights first Comments

Blasphemy Laws Exposed: The Consequences of Criminalizing “Defamation of Religions”

Update - Too crazy even for the...

Ed Kilgore - Political Animal Comments

update - too crazy even for the evangelical right
Barton’s Fall From Grace

David Barton says his documents prove that the Founding Fathers were deeply religious men who built America on Christian ideas - but do his sources check out?

Pussy Riot's closing statement

Cory Doctorow - BoingBoing Comments

Pussy Riot member Yekaterina Samutsevich has given a tremendous closing statement, which is a masterful summary of Russian oligarchy

Refuting Richard: Dawkins Doesn’t “Get”...

Graham Veale - Saints & Sceptics? Comments

Refuting Richard: Dawkins Doesn’t “Get” God

Witchcraft-based child abuse: Action...

- - BBC News Comments

The government has launched an action plan to tackle child abuse linked to witchcraft or religion in England.

MORE

MORE BY HUGH KRAMER

200,000 pledge to vote for Jesus in 2012

Hugh Kramer - Examiner.com Comments

200,000 pledge to vote for Jesus in 2012

L.A. atheists helping with Haitian...

Hugh Kramer - LA Atheism Examiner 16 Comments

MORE

Comments

Comment RSS Feed

Please sign in or register to comment