A new report by an independent group explains in depth what observers of President Bush’s “faith-based initiative” have been noting for years now: that Bush has used his presidential powers to bypass Congress and “aggressively implement the initiative.”
Jerry Falwell is misleading churches into thinking they can endorse political candidates, two Washington-based watchdog groups warned in complaints to federal agencies. One critic noted that a Falwell associate declared that the IRS lacks the bite to prosecute churches that step over the line.
While the Bush-Cheney campaign defended the legality of urging churchgoing volunteers to turn over parish rolls for political organizing, Internal Revenue Service officials spelled out the ways that congregations could risk fines or the loss of their tax exemptions.
A laundry list of duties sent to conservative Christian volunteers by the Bush-Cheney reelection campaign is causing alarm among evangelical leaders who are concerned that the use of congregations as political organizing bases will endanger churches’ tax-exempt status.
Los Angeles County supervisors, faced with a lawsuit to remove a tiny gold cross from the county seal, have voted to remove it, but the Roman goddess Pomona will stay. County supervisors voted June 1 to remove the cross, which was incorporated into the seal’s original 1957 design to represent the Catholic missions founded by Jesuit missionaries.
The U.S. Supreme Court has sidestepped a dispute over the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, ruling that a California atheist had no standing to challenge the phrase on behalf of his daughter. The 8-0 decision was announced on Flag Day, June 14, which was also the 50th anniversary of the time the phrase was inserted into the pledge.
The U.S. Supreme Court has decided not to consider an appeal of a lower court ruling that mealtime prayers at Virginia Military Institute are unconstitutional. Justice Antonin Scalia issued a strong dissent to the high court’s April 26 refusal, saying the case raised key questions about church and state.
The implications of Supreme Court decisions are often in the eye of the beholder. That observation was borne out recently by discussions of legal scholars and a White House official on the court’s latest major church-state decision. Yet, on balance, the ruling seemed to replace a few bricks in the wall of separation.