Voting is the best magic

Today is Election Day: Vote!

Voting is where the magical meets the mundane, where we take our intentions and put them into action. Make it happen.

Among the many vital issues in this election, freedom of religion should not be forgotten. Obama stands for a vision of freedom of religion that guarantees rights to everyone – including minority religions. Romney is happy to let his supporters twist “freedom of religion” into a justification for the powerful to make theocratic choices about health care for others, and a …

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Further thoughts on being recognized as clergy

Last week my efforts to get the Arlington County Court to recognize me as a member of the clergy finally succeeded. Now that it’s over, I’m going to reflect a little bit on some of the details and share some possible advice for others who find themselves fighting an uphill battle for rights and recognition.

First of all, I’m glad we didn’t have to make a court case out of it. (I was dealing with the bureaucracy of the clerk of court’s office, and we never …

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Religious liberty links, Oct 20: DC 40 returns; current election is “apocalyptic,” and more

Yes, the people behind DC 40 are at it again. They are coming to DC near Samhain to take a turn leading worship at David’s Tent, a group that is conducting continuous worship on the Ellipse near the White House until Election Day. It looks like the DC 40 team is taking four shifts from October 24th to the 27th, including a “drum circle” on the 27th.

The previous email update from DC 40 organizer James Nesbit directed followers to pray for the purpose of “Dismantling …

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Link Roundup: corporations and conscience, preaching for Mitt, and more

As challenges to the new contraceptive coverage mandate wend their way through the court system, a judge has ruled that requiring a for-profit company to provide insurance coverage of contraceptives does not substantially burden the company’s owner’s ability to practice his religion.

And as predicted, hundreds of pastors took to the pulpit to defy the IRS by endorsing political candidates. AU continues to urge the IRS to respond.

Away from the pulpit, conservative pastors who claim to be “nonpartisan” continue to insist that Christians have to vote …

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Pulpit Freedom Sunday encourages pastors to defy IRS

Tax law makes it illegal for pastors and other representatives of tax-exempt religious organizations to endorse political candidates, right? The Alliance Defending Freedom (formerly the Alliance Defense Fund), a conservative Christian legal organization, says otherwise – and they’re pushing pastors to break the law.

Tomorrow is “Pulpit Freedom Sunday,” and the ADF is recruiting Christian ministers to spread partisan political messages during their church services and sermons, in defiance of tax law. The ADF is associated with extremely conservative Christian groups and works on causes such …

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Link roundup: conservative Christian prayer efforts ramp up

As Election Day approaches, conservative Christian groups are mounting a wide array of prayer initiatives. Several of them started last week and intend to pray for 40 days (depending on how they count the days) until the election.

Most of these initiatives are presenting their message primarily in religious terms, not partisan ones. There’s also a lot less direct language of spiritual warfare than we saw in the DC 40 campaign. The favorite language here is about “solemn assemblies” and “crying out to God.”

While there’s some …

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Army chaplain leads sectarian prayer during suicide prevention event

Reports from Fort Sam Houston indicate soldiers attending a mandatory training session intended to address the problem of military suicides were led in an explicitly Christian prayer by a chaplain without an opportunity to opt out. One of the soldiers attending, staff sergeant Victoria Gettman, is an atheist who recognized this as an egregious violation and contacted Sgt Justin Griffith, the Military Director of American Atheists, who broke the story on his blog. Sgt Griffith spoke with PNC about this issue. He does not speak …

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The Values Voters Summit 2012: Islamophobia for all

As Hail Columbia gets into the groove of regularly summarizing news on interfaith issues and religious liberty, here’s a roundup that covers some of the important issues in arguments over religious liberty, including some stories going back a few weeks:

The weekend of September 14-16 was the annual gathering where conservative Christians flex their political muscles to push the Republican party in their chosen direction: the Values Voters Summit.

You might remember the flap there last year as the wide field of potential Republican candidates courted conservative …

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Paul Ryan is worried about “religious freedom”

Mitt Romney announced on Saturday that Paul Ryan will join him on the Republican ticket as vice-presidential nominee for the 2012 election. Ryan has an extensive record on several important issues, and although the issue of freedom of religion comes up less often, his speeches and position statements show that he subscribes to the twisted misappropriation of “religious freedom” by Catholic bishops:

While I am a pro-life Catholic, I believe [the contraception] mandate transcends the issue of personal religious beliefs about contraception, sterilization and abortion. The …

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Missouri Amendment 2: A Trojan Horse for (Christian) Government & School Prayer

On Tuesday, Missourians will have an amendment to their state constitution on the ballot. The official summary reads:

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to ensure:

That the right of Missouri citizens to express their religious beliefs shall not be infringed;
That school children have the right to pray and acknowledge God voluntarily in their schools; and
That all public schools shall display the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution.

Sounds pretty unobjectionable, right? Wrong: this measure is just the latest in a long line of Trojan horse …

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