Re-establishing Integrity of Church-State Separation  [Welcome]
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Church-State Separation: A Keystone to Peace, html file, revised and updated January 2004, edition 3 (Clark Moeller, PAD)  (WILL OPEN IN NEW BROWSER WINDOW)
Church-State Separation: A Keystone to Peace, PDF file, revised and updated January 2004, edition 3 (Clark Moeller, PAD)  (WILL OPEN IN NEW BROWSER WINDOW)

 
 

        * Action Steps
        * Research voting record of your representative
        * Sample Draft Letters

 

 
A. EDUCATE YOURSELF

1. Church-state separation is the common denominator among the controversies of woman's right to control her body, equal civil rights for gays, prayer in public school, posting the 10 Commandments in public buildings, faith-based grants to religious organizations, teaching creationism and intelligent design in public schools, vouchers for private parochial schools, etc.

2. Read Church-State Separation: A Keystone to Peace, 3rd edition by Clark Moeller. (This can be printed from www.padnet.org/CSSmoeller2.pdf)

3. Attached are a list of suggested books and a list of hyperlinks to organizations working to support church-state separation. Join your state's ACLU and Americans United for Church & State. The Pennsylvania Alliance for Democracy (www.padnet.org) has a number of articles on church-state separation and a list of hyperlinks to related organizations, which in turn have lists of hyperlinks to material related to church-state separation.

4. Learn your elected officials' voting records on church-state separation. See the information below for ways to do this.

B. TAKE ACTION

1. Litigation:
  Notify your state's ACLU office about violations to the First Amendment so they can evaluate the situation and determine if the situation merits a court challenge. You can get the number for your state from the national office of ACLU: 212-549-2500. Also see www.aclu.org.
  However, as important as litigation may be, there are not enough ACLU lawyers in the country to litigate the number of violations of the First Amendment that are currently underway. Therefore, we need to take additional steps.

2. Letters to elected officials and your local newspaper:
(sample draft letters below)
  a. Write your own letter to your elected officials. (See draft letters # 1 & 2). You may want to tailor the draft letters to reflect the official's voting record. If your elected official has been voting on issues that support church-state separation, he or she should be thanked because they are getting a great deal of pressure to vote the other way.
  b. Write letters to your local editor supporting church-state separation. Any faith-based grant in your area is a good reason to write a letter of concern. (See draft letter #3)
  c. Because elected officials are getting so much pressure to compromise religious liberty as defined by the First Amendment from conservative religious groups, elected officials need to hear from individuals and religious groups which support everyone's right to religious liberty.
  Therefore, ask your meeting, church, synagogue, mosque, or other religious institution to adopt a policy or position in support of church-state separation. (See the actual Minute adopted by the Towanda Monthly Meeting) Then have them write to your elected officials asking them to please support church-state separation. (Draft letters # 4 & 5 below.)

3. Visit your elected officials:
  Make a date to see your elected official either at her or his home/district office, or state capital or Washington DC office. Explain your reason for the meeting.
  Be on time, be polite, and tell the official that you are concerned we are losing the civil right of religious freedom, and ask your representative if you have his or her support for church-state separation. Come out of the meeting knowing what the representative's position is on church-state separation.


 

 
CHECK THE VOTING RECORD of Your State and Congressional Representative

Your Federal Representatives: You can find the names, addresses, email addresses, and telephone numbers of your congressional representative at: http://www.house.gov/htbin/zipfind
  In addition to speaking with your representative, you can get an idea of his or her attitudes about church-state separation by checking her or his votes on key bills: http://www.senate.gov/pagelayout/legislative/a_three_sections_with_teasers/votes.htm

Legislation and Bills: At the federal level, the text of the bills can be found at: Thomas Legislative Information on the Web at: http://thomas.loc.gov/ . Voting records are an indicator of a representative's attitude about church-state separation. Another is sponsorship or co-sponsorship of bills. For example, in 1999, there were 60 co-sponsors for the misnamed, proposed "amendment [H. CON. RES 5] to the Constitution of the United States restoring religious freedom." It read in part,
  "The people retain the right to pray and to recognize their religious beliefs, heritage, and traditions on public property, including schools.
"The United States and the States shall not establish any official religion nor require any person to join in prayer or religious activity.'."
 

If this had been adopted by Congress, it would have been sent to the states for ratification, a big step toward gutting the First Amendment's protection of religious freedom. This bill in essentially the same form gained more co-sponsors in subsequent years that it was submitted to Congress: 2000-2001, [H. J. RES 66] 66 co-sponsors; 2001-2002, [H.J. RES 81] 88 co-sponsors; and in 2001-2003 [H. J. RES 46] 100 co-sponsors. Was your congressperson a co-sponsor? Check the list of co-sponsors at http://thomas.loc.gov/.

Another example of a bill intended to take away the freedom of religion protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States is H. J Res: 2045: Ten Commandments Defense Act of 2003 (Introduced in House) "DISPLAY OF TEN COMMANDMENTS-
  "The power to display the Ten Commandments on or within property owned or administered by the several States or political subdivisions thereof is hereby declared to be among the powers reserved to the States respectively."  

The 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Commandments directly conflict with the freedom of religion protected by the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

State Legislatures: In many states there has been a wide variety of bills opposing gay marriage, defense of marriage acts, restrictions on a woman's right to choose, proposing prayer in public schools, proposing teaching creationism in public schools, etc., that have been intended to compromise church-state separation.

Evaluation of Bills & Voting Records: A number of Progressive Organizations evaluate the voting records of legislators and evaluate bills:

  Americans for Democratic Action: http://www.adaction.org/2002voting.html
  Senators' votes: http://www.adaction.org/Senate2001fullVR.pdf
  AFL-CIO: http://www.aflcio.org/issuespolitics/votes/vr_memb.cfm
  ACLU: http://scorecard.aclu.org/scoremain.html


 
 

DRAFT LETTERS TO ELECTED OFFICIALS AND THE MEDIA

# 1 From an individual to an elected official, 187 words

# 2 From an individual to the editor, 242 words

# 3 From an individual to the editor, 636 words

# 4 From Quaker Meeting to elected official, 303 words

# 5 From Unitarian Universalists to elected official, 305 words.



 


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