When a religion is good, I conceive it will support itself; and when it does not support itself, and God does not take care to support it so that its professors are obliged to call for help of the civil power, 'tis a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one.

                           Benjamin Franklin



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Americans for Religious Liberty: A Short History


Americans for Religious Liberty was founded in the spring of 1982 when the leaders of its two predecessor organizations, the Voice of Reason and the Center for Moral democracy, agreed to a merger. The Voice of Reason had been founded in 1981 in Michigan by Rabbi Sherwin T. Wine, Lynne Silverberg-Master, and others in response to the upsurge of political fundamentalism championed by televangelist Jerry Falwell and others. The Center for Moral Democracy was started around the same time in New York by Edward L. Ericson, leader of the New York Society for Ethical Culture, the Rev. Bruce Southworth, minister of Community Church (Unitarian Universalist), in New York, and others. Because of their similarity, the two groups were enthusiastic about combining.

The birth of ARL (originally named the Voice of Reason) was marked by a National Summit Conference on Religious Freedom and the Secular State in New York in late March. Featured speakers included Sherwin Wine, Edward Ericson, writer Isaac Asimov, biblical archeology professor Gerald Larue, ACLU attorney Arthur Eisenberg, American Ethical Union director Jean Kotkin, Unitarian Universalist Association board member Donald Field, biologist Ernst Mayr, and former Church & State magazine editor Edd Doerr, who was named executive director of the new organization. Lynne Silverberg-Master became president.


* * *

1982


  • Edward Ericson’s book, American Freedom and the Radical Right, was published.

  • Sherwin Wine addressed audiences in Florida, Missouri, and Illinois. Edward Ericson spoke in Pennsylvania.

  • Executive director Edd Doerr presented testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee in opposition to appointment to the Commission on Civil Rights of a nominee opposed to abortion rights and in favor of tax aid to sectarian schools.

  • Doerr was a guest on a 3½ hour talk show in Lynchburg, VA, Jerry Falwell’s home base, and for two hours on a popular Washington, D.C., talk show.

  • Doerr was a delegate to the Unitarian Universalist Association’s General Assembly and crafted a denominational resolution on religious liberty issues and abortion rights.


1983

  • ARL’s board voted to change the organization’s name from the original Voice of Reason to Americans for Religious Liberty.

  • Cleveland attorney and church-state activist Anne Lindsay was elected president, replacing Lynne Silverberg-Master.

  • ARL was a co-sponsor of the ACLU’s 1983 Bill of Rights Lobby Conference and Free Inquiry magazine’s James Madison conference. ARL’s Doerr was a speaker at the ACLU conference.

  • ARL was active in Texas and Michigan in dealing with creationism and school censorship issues.

  • Doerr debated Moral Majority national secretary Gary Dixon on a Chicago talk show, tangled with Jerry Falwell on a television talk show, and was a guest on other talk shows in Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania, and Michigan. He delivered a major address before the John Dewey Society in Detroit and spoke to audiences in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Indiana, Maryland, and Washington, D.C.


1984

  • ARL joined amicus curiae briefs to the Supreme Court in two important church-state cases, Grand Rapids v. Ball (tax aid to church schools) and Wallace v. Jaffree (school prayer).

  • ARL chapters in Michigan sponsored forums on the implications of a national constitutional convention, featuring Sherwin Wine and other speakers.

  • Maury Abraham joined the ARL staff. He was the main organizer of a March 5 rally at the U.S. Capitol opposing President Reagan’s proposed school prayer amendment. Abraham conducted workshops on church-state issues at conferences in Ohio and Washington, D.C., and taught a class on the subject at a Unitarian church in Maryland.

  • ARL called on the Coast Guard to stop allowing ships and crews to participate in denominational religious rites.

  • Executive director Edd Doerr debated Rep. Henry Hyde and economist Walter Berns on a nationally televised program sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute.

  • Doerr was a guest (solo) for six hours on KABC radio in Los Angeles and addressed audiences in California, New York, Florida, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Jersey, and Texas.

  • Doerr addressed the Constitution Study Group at the U.S. National Archives on “Religious Liberty in America: A Constitutional Perspective.” He also spoke at a Republican Platform Hearing.

  • Doerr received the Eric M. Steel Award from the Rochester, New York, chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and the Humanist Pioneer Award from the American Humanist Association, both for his work for church-state separation.


1985

  • Ethicist, author, civil libertarian, and peace activist John M. Swomley was elected president of ARL. Swomley was a speaker at the ACLU biennial conference at Brevard Community College in Florida, and he and ARL board member Sol Gordon were featured speakers at the American Humanist Association conference.

  • ARL joined other organizations in amicus curiae briefs to the Supreme Court in abortion rights, “equal access,” and tax aid to religious colleges cases.

  • ARL’s Doerr was a guest for three hours on KABC radio in Los Angeles and was interviewed on the ABC and NBC television networks. He was also a guest on talk shows in Pennsylvania, Texas, Maryland, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Washington, D.C., Ohio, Florida, New York, Oklahoma, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, and Indiana, and addressed audiences in New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, California, Maryland, Oklahoma, and Florida.

  • ARL’s pamphlet, “Creationism, Evolution, and the Public Schools,” was reprinted in Creation/Evolution, published by the National Center for Science Education.

  • Swomley’s article analyzing “equal access” legislation was published in The School Administrator, published by the American Association of School Administrators.

  • Doerr presented testimony on school vouchers to the Senate Subcommittee on Intergovernmental Relations.


1986

  • ARL and the Anti-Defamation League filed an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in the Louisiana creationism case. ARL’s Doerr originated the strategy of having Nobel science laureates sign an amicus brief in the creationism case.

  • Doerr was a plaintiff in an ultimately unsuccessful court challenge to President Reagan’s extending diplomatic recognition to the Holy See. ARL urged Reagan not to replace the departing Holy See ambassador.

  • ARL president John Swomley spoke at a PEARL conference, the Boston University Law School, and the Nebraska Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights. He also lectured in Australia. Board member James Wood, Jr., spoke in Beijing, and Doerr in Oslo.

  • ARL co-founder Sherwin Wine spoke on “Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell – The New Strategy of the Religious Right” at an ARL-sponsored meeting in Detroit.

  • ARL’s Doerr addressed audiences in Washington, D.C., Maryland, New York, California, Illinois, and Florida, and was a guest on talk shows in New York, California, Washington, D.C., Maryland, Oregon, Florida, Illinois, Colorado, and Pennsylvania.


1987

  • ARL and 33 other religious and civil liberties groups filed suit in federal court in New York challenging federal and state aid to sectarian private education. The suit, PEARL v. Secretary of Education, challenged remedial services and related programs under Chapter 1 of the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act. It also targeted the constitutionality of a New York statute providing publicly-funded vans and neutral-site leasing, as well as Chapter 2 funds for computer software, audiovisual equipment, library materials and supplies for use on the premises of religious schools.

  • ARL president John M. Swomley published a major study of the First Amendment’s wall of separation concept in his Religious Liberty and the Secular State.

  • ARL opposed the nomination of Judge Robert Bork to the U.S. Supreme Court on the grounds that his confirmation “would seriously endanger the liberties of Americans well into the next century.” Doerr made 30 appearances on radio, television, and before audiences speaking on the Bork nomination.

  • ARL sponsored the first interdisciplinary conference on the scientific, ethical and legal aspects of fetal personhood and the abortion rights issue. The conference attracted nationally distinguished scientists, ethicists, and theologians. The ARL Distinguished Service Award was presented to Patricia A. Jaworski for her audio documentary challenging the distortions of the anti-choice film, “The Silent Scream.”

  • Scientists Stephen Jay Gould and Carl Sagan were named to the ARL National Advisory Board, as was William F. Schulz, president of Unitarian Universalist Association.

  • ARL joined 18 educational organizations in an amicus brief in the Tennessee textbook case, Mozert v. Hawkins County Public Schools, in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

  • ARL joined with the Anti-Defamation League in an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court challenging New Jersey’s “silence for prayer” law, Karcher v. May.

  • ARL joined the ACLU of Illinois in amicus briefs challenging a nativity tableau in the Chicago city hall and a prayer room in the Illinois state capitol in Springfield.

  • ARL joined the ACLU of Maryland in challenging invocations and benedictions at the University of Maryland. The case, Barry v. Slaughter, was filed in federal court in Baltimore.

  • ARL joined a wide spectrum of women’s, civil liberties, educational and religious groups challenging federal chastity laws in Bowen v. Kendrick. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review an April 1987 ruling by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

  • During 1987, ARL staff (executive director Edd Doerr, associate director Maury Abraham, president John Swomley) gave 55 speeches and lectures before diverse audiences and 58 radio and television appearances.


1988

  • ARL and national ACLU filed suit on February 1 challenging the constitutionality of a congressional appropriation of funds for religious schools in France, Egypt, Indonesia, Israel and the Philippines. The suit, Lamont v. Shultz, was filed in federal district court in New York.

  • ARL publishes executive director Edd Doerr’s book, Religious Liberty in Crisis, an introduction to the major church-state issues of the day.

  • ARL filed an amicus brief in the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in a case involving religious censorship, Virgil v. School Board of Columbia County, Florida. People for the American Way and 30 other groups joined the coalition effort seeking to overturn a lower federal court ruling which allowed a local school board to remove a textbook anthology for classes because of fundamentalist demands.

  • ARL joined an amicus brief filed in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals by the National Organization for Women (NOW) and the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) challenging the Reagan administration’s “gag rules” in the federal public health program. The state of Massachusetts refused to implement the regulations, which prohibited federal funds from family planning programs if abortion information was available. The case, Massachusetts v. Bower, was applied after a district court ordered the state to enforce the regulations.

  • ARL joined with NOW and NARAL in a Third Circuit Court of Appeals case, Northeast Women’s Center v. McMonagle, which sought to protect women who chose to avail themselves of abortion services at clinics. Violence was becoming increasingly common at abortion clinics.

1989

  • ARL filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in Webster v. Reproductive Health Services, a case challenging a Missouri law which bars all public funding of abortions, bans privately paid abortions in public hospitals, prohibits publicly paid health care professionals and counselors from providing information to clients, and defines human life as beginning at conception. The ARL brief, signed by 167 distinguished scientists, including 12 Nobel laureates, was praised by NOW as the strongest brief filed in the case.

  • ARL cosponsored the April 9 March for Women’s Lives on the Mall in Washington, D.C.

  • ARL criticized the Smithsonian Institution for stacking the deck in favor of accommodationism in church-state questions and showing favoritism toward “moral majoritarian” and sectarian special interests in its nine-week program of lectures on “Religion in American Life.”

  • ARL published Abortion Rights and Fetal Personhood, a collection of addresses from the ARL conference on abortion rights and refuting the unscientific claims propounded by anti-choice activists.

  • ARL filed amicus briefs in four cases at the U.S. Supreme Court level. They were: Board of Education v. Mergens, dealing with school-sponsored religious meetings; Turnock v. Ragsdale, challenging an Illinois statute restricting abortion rights by imposing excessive requirements on clinics and drastically increasing the cost of first trimester abortions, as well as interfering in physician-patient relationships; Hodgson v. Minnesota and Ohio v. Akron Center for Reproductive Health, which involved restrictions on abortion access.

  • ARL opposed attempts to dilute the anti-discrimination language in the pending child care legislation in Congress. ARL joined more than three dozen other groups in affirming that “public funds must not be spent on any program that is in any way discriminatory along religious, racial, ideological or gender lines. The First Amendment principle of separation of church and state must be carefully observed.”

  • ARL protested compulsory prayer in the U.S. Marine Corps. ARL’s letter to Marine Corps Commandant General A.M. Gray, Jr., reminded the military that the first Amendment applies to military personnel as it does to all American citizens. ARL reminded General Gray that a 1972 U.S. Supreme court decision, Laird v. Anderson, had reaffirmed this.

  • Writer Albert J. Menendez joined the ARL staff as a contributing editor to the newsletter.

  • In 1989 ARL staff addressed 27 audiences, including colleges and universities, and appeared on 29 radio and television programs.


1990

  • ARL joined with more than 50 medical, women’s religious and other groups in an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in Rust v. Sullivan, which involved the Reagan administration’s 1988 cutoff of federal aid to family planning and reproductive health services. This Title X program of the Public Health Service Act had provided $140 million annually to 4,000 family planning clinics serving 4.3 million women, 85 % of them poor.

  • ARL joined with 12 religious and medical organizations in an amicus brief to the Tennessee Court of Appeals in Davis v. Davis, a case involving in vitro fertilization.

  • ARL joined with the National Coalition for Public Education and Religious Liberty in Pulido v. Cavasos, a Missouri case on appeal to a federal court. The case involved the distribution of federal remedial services to parochial schools.

  • ARL joined with the American Jewish Congress and 22 other organizations in an amicus brief to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in a public school Bible reading case from the Western District of Arkansas. Unqualified community volunteers offered Bible readings to the students, and a federal district court ordered the Gravette School District to halt the program.

  • ARL joined the state coalition opposing a tuition tax credit scheme to aid private and parochial schools in Oregon. ARL also joined pro-choice groups in referendum elections involving freedom of choice in Nevada and Oregon. All three referenda were on the ballot in November, 1990.

  • ARL joined the New York Civil Liberties Union in challenging New York City actions that favor one religious group over others. ARL and NYCLU filed an amicus brief in Southside Fair Housing Committee v. City of New York in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

  • ARL joined in a National PEARL amicus brief in the Helms v. Cody case in Louisiana. The case involved federal and state aid to parochial schools.

  • ARL supported a federal court challenge to the Boy Scouts of America, involving charges of religious discrimination against atheists, in Welsh v. BSA.

  • ARL staff addressed 23 audiences and appeared on 14 radio and television programs.


1991

  • ARL published The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom by staffers Edd Doerr and Albert J. Menendez. The collection of 561 quotations covered the full range of history and included 102 relevant quotes from U.S. Supreme Court decisions.

  • ARL joined an amicus brief to the Tennessee Supreme Court in Stowe v. Davis, a case involving the definition of fetal personhood.

  • ARL and five Nashville taxpayers challenged the constitutionality of $15 million in tax exempt bonds for construction at a pervasively sectarian college. The suit, Steele v. Industrial Development Board, was filed in federal district court in Nashville. The college involved was David Lipscomb University, affiliated with the fundamentalist Churches of Christ.

  • ARL participated in the coalition in Washington State to guarantee freedom of conscience in the abortion rights controversy.

  • ARL executive director Edd Doerr and research director Albert J. Menendez published Church Schools and Public Money: The Politics of Parochiaid, a thorough examination of the campaign to get taxpayers to support nonpublic schools.

  • ARL filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in Lee v. Weisman, a public school graduation prayer case from Rhode Island. The ARL brief, prepared by General Counsel Ronald A. Lindsay, argued that government sponsorship of invocations tends to degrade religion and violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

  • ARL worked closely with the anti-voucher coalition in Pennsylvania, where the State House of Representatives rejected a $300 million voucher plan for private and parochial schools.

  • The U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the ARL/ACLU challenge to distribution of U.S. Agency for International Development funds for sectarian schools overseas. The case, renamed Lamont v. Woods, held that the $14 million grants to Jewish and Catholic schools in Egypt, Israel, Jamaica, the Philippines, Micronesia and South Korea were unconstitutional.

  • ARL staffers Menendez and Doerr published Religion and Public Education, a book-length study of the problems involving religion in public schools. The comprehensive guide covered religious observances, course offerings in the curriculum, and included relevant court rulings on all aspects of the controversy.

  • ARL staff addressed 41 audiences and made 20 appearances on radio and television.


1992

  • Articles by Doerr and Menendez are reprinted in a college textbook, Education in America: Opposing Viewpoints, published by Greenhaven Press in San Diego.

  • ARL celebrated its tenth anniversary in March, 1992.

  • ARL joined a broad coalition of mainstream groups, the Coalition for the Free Exercise of Religion, in supporting the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). RFRA’s main purpose is to redress the balance against free exercise of religious belief and practice which an increasingly conservative Supreme Court enunciated in the 1990 Employment Division v. Smith case. Justice Scalia’s ruling undermined individual religious freedom by overturning settled law and held that laws or regulations which restrict religious conduct “need not be justified by a compelling state interest.” The Coalition urged Congress to override the High Court by passing a carefully crafted, reasonable bill that weighed competing interests in the light of history and precedent.

  • Doerr and Menendez contributed a chapter on referendum elections and parochial school aid in Why We Still Need Public Schools: Church-State Relations and Visions of Democracy, published by Prometheus Books.

  • ARL National Adviser Isaac Asimov, a prolific writer (author of more than 450 books) died on April 6. Asimov supported ARL in many concrete ways and signed the organization’s fund-raising letters. Another long-time National Advisor, sociologist Alfred McClung Lee, died on May 19.

  • ARL president Swomley contributed a chapter defending abortion rights in Abortion: Opposing Perspectives, a college textbook published by Greenhaven Press in San Diego.

  • Executive director Doerr received the American Humanist Association’s 1992 Distinguished Service Award for his work on behalf of religious liberty.

  • ARL joined state coalitions to defend freedom of conscience on abortion in forthcoming referenda in Arizona and Maryland, and in opposition to vouchers in a Colorado referendum.

  • ARL treasurer Ken Gjemre received the Dallas Peace Center’s Peacemaker of the Year Award.

  • Menendez and Doerr published a well-documented expose of church school textbook bias, “Should Tax Dollars Subsidize Bigotry?”, in Phi Delta Kappan, the journal of the professional education fraternity.

  • ARL research director Menendez published Visions of Reality: What Fundamentalist Schools Teach, an eye-opening examination of religious, racial, cultural and political bias in many fundamentalist private schools that would be eligible for voucher aid under national Republican proposals.

  • ARL staff addressed 39 audiences, including universities, United Methodist and Unitarian Universalist assemblies and national religious liberty conferences, and appeared on 12 radio and television programs.


1993

  • ARL and several teachers’ groups helped to block a proposed voucher pilot program in Maryland. Executive director Doerr testified against the measure at both House and Senate hearings in Annapolis.

  • ARL and Minnesota ACLU filed suit to stop a shared time program aiding parochial schools in St. Paul. The state court suit was Stark et al. v. St. Paul Public Schools.

  • ARL joined California coalition to oppose vouchers in a November 1993 referendum election.

  • Leo Pfeffer, dean of church-state lawyers, vigorous separationist, and long-time ARL supporter, died on June 4.

  • ARL opposed the naming of Raymond Flynn as U.S. ambassador to the Vatican (Holy See), though the U.S. Senate declined to allow testimony from groups opposed to the diplomatic connection inaugurated by President Reagan in 1994 as a violation of the Constitution.

  • ARL joined in an amicus brief to a California appellate court, challenging a 1987 state law which removed abortion and pregnancy-related care from the category of “necessary medical care” for minors. The case, American Academy of Pediatrics v. Lundgren, was supported by many religious, feminist, and civil libertarian groups.

  • ARL research director Albert J. Menendez published The December Wars: Religious Symbols and Ceremonies in the Public Square. The Prometheus Books title surveys the history of Christmas and Hanukkah controversies throughout history and shows how the conflicts fit in the larger context of church-state relations.

  • Edd Doerr’s book, Catholic Schools: The Facts was published by ARL. Using official church data, the book was a realistic, contemporary portrait of the nation’s largest private school system.
    ARL published Menendez’s study of the 1992 abortion rights referendum in Maryland, showing how political, economic, educational and religious influences intersect on the abortion issue. It was called Abortion Rights at the Polls.

  • Doerr and Menendez published Religious Liberty and State Constitutions, a compilation of all state constitutional provisions dealing with religion.

  • Doerr contributed a chapter on religious liberty issues to the book, The Book Your Church Doesn’t Want You to Read, edited by Tim C. Leedom and published by Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company.

  • ARL staff spoke before 29 audiences and appeared on radio and television 28 times.


1994

  • ARL joined with People For the American Way, RCAR, the Anti-Defamation League, and the American Jewish Congress in an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in Madsen v. Women’s Health Center, a case involving access to family planning clinics.

  • ARL president Swomley and board member James E. Wood, Jr. contributed chapters to the book Religious Liberty in the 1990s: The Religious Clauses Under the Rehnquist Court, published by the American Jewish Committee.

  • ARL filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in Board of Education of Kiryas Joel v. Grumet, a challenge to a New York State law creating a school district for the exclusive use and under the control of one religious group. The NEA and PEARL were among several groups in the amicus brief which charged that New York authorities “created a district for the express purpose of segregating citizens on the basis of their religious beliefs."

  • Executive director Doerr submitted a chapter on religion and government to the book The Humanist Way, published by Hema Publications in Bombay, India.

  • Long-time ARL National Advisor, distinguished author and ethicist James Luther Adams died on July 26.

  • Swomley was one of the organizers of a new national group, the Interfaith Alliance, to combat the Religious Right.

  • ARL signed a national statement, “A Shared Vision: Religious Liberty in the 21st Century,” issued by more than 80 individuals and organizations. It affirms the importance of individual freedom of conscience, affirms the constitutional principle of church-state separation, and stresses the importance of religious neutrality in public education.

  • ARL published two new books by president Swomley. Abortion and Public Policy defends freedom of conscience in the sensitive area of medicine, ethics and religion. Religious Political Parties warns against the dangers of religion-based political movements. An appendix to the book by research director Menendez surveys religious political parties from Afghanistan to Venezuela.

  • ARL joined with National PEARL, a coalition of educational and civil liberties groups, in an amicus brief to the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a school prayer case from Mississippi, Ingebretsen v. Jackson Public School District.

  • Research director Menendez published an article, “Christmas in the Schools: Can Conflicts Be Avoided,” in the November 1994 issue of Phi Delta Kappan.

  • ARL staff appeared before 19 audiences and participated in 19 radio and television programs.


1995

  • ARL and 35 other national organizations issued a comprehensive statement, "Religion in the Public Schools: A Joint Statement of Current Law," to advise public school districts of the legal standards surrounding the issue. The statement warned politicians and policymakers that "tampering with our basic religious liberty safeguards is a dangerous and divisive cause of action."

  • ARL joined with Zero Population Growth and other organizations in endorsing the programs endorsed by the UN Conference on Population and Development held in Cairo.

  • Research director Menendez was named associate director of ARL at the April board meeting.

  • Executive director Doerr's "Freedom of Religion, Freedom from Religion," was reprinted in Civil Liberties: Opposing Viewpoints, a collection of essays intended for college courses and published by Greenhaven Press in San Diego. Doerr also published "Curbing Population: An Opportunity Missed" in the January issue of USA Today magazine.

  • Doerr and Menendez published an article in Liberty magazine challenging the claim that Christians are victims of persecution in the United States. Entitled "Persecution Complex: Are Christians an Endangered Species?" The piece appeared in the March/April issue of the decades-old religious freedom magazine published by the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

  • Doerr testified against a voucher bill in the Maryland legislature.

  • ARL published The Case Against School Vouchers, a comprehensive hard-hitting analysis of voucher plans, which will undermine American public education. Written by Doerr, Menendez and Swomley, it summarized the arguments against the voucher movement.

  • ARL opened a Midwest regional office in Kansas City, Missouri, under the direction of president Swomley.

  • ARL staff addressed 24 audiences and appeared on radio and television 12 times.


1996

  • ARL published Swomley's Myths About Public School Prayer, a book which explores and examines the misinformation purveyed by prayer amendment backers.

  • Associate director Menendez published two books on national politics, both of which explored religious influences on recent elections. Published by Prometheus Books were Evangelicals at the Ballot Box and The Perot Voters and the Future of American Politics.

  • ARL published Public Education and the Public Good by Robert S. Alley and The Religious Right in Michigan Politics by Russ Bellant. Alley's book defends the premises and reality of a free, democratically-controlled system of public schools, while Bellant documented the increasing domination of Michigan's politics, especially its Republican Party, by extreme right-wing fundamentalists.

  • Menendez's book, Church and State in Canada, was published by Prometheus Books.

  • ARL participated in a Washington state coalition against a voucher referendum.

  • Doerr's article, "Pat Robertson's Agenda for America" appeared in the July issue of USA Today magazine.

  • Menendez's article, "Trick or Treat: Halloween in the Public Schools," appeared in the November/December 1996 issue of Liberty magazine.

  • Swomley's article, "School Choice: Rationale for Special Privilege," appeared in the November 1996 issue of Christian Social Action.

  • Doerr's article on celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas in the public school appeared in the December 2 issue of Insight.

  • ARL National Advisor and internationally known scientist Carl Sagan died on December 20.

  • Prometheus Books published a trade edition of ARL's The Case Against School Vouchers.

  • ARL published Menendez's Home Schooling: The Facts, a critical examination of the phenomenon.

  • ARL staff addressed 30 conferences and meetings and appeared 28 times on radio and television.


1997

  • ARL filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in the rehearing of Aguilar v. Felton, a 1985 case ruling that sending tax paid teachers into sectarian private schools was unconstitutional. ARL joined the Council on Religious Freedom's brief.

  • ARL joined a PEARL amicus brief in an Ohio federal court challenge, Cole v. Cleveland Board of Education, to the practice of opening school board meetings with prayer.

  • Swomley's article, "The Vatican Connection: How the Roman Catholic Church Influences the Republican Party," appeared in the April issue of Christian Ethics Today.

  • Doerr's article, "The Empty Promise of School Vouchers," appeared in the March issue of USA Today magazine.

  • Menendez's article, "By the Rules? Behind the FEC Lawsuit Against the Christian Coalition," was published in the May/June issue of Liberty magazine.

  • ARL published Swomley's Confronting Church and State: Memoirs of an Activist, recounting the ARL president's more than fifty year career crusading for world peace, civil liberties and religious freedom.

  • ARL published Menendez's Three Voices of Extremism, an expose of three prominent exponents of the Religious Right, Charles Colson, James Dobson and D. James Kennedy.

  • ARL published a monograph, The Red Mass: A Fusion of Religion and Politics?, by Menendez, a study of the ongoing Roman Catholic Church practice of seeking to influence judicial and legislative leaders by invoking the natural law argument.

  • ARL helped initiate a federal lawsuit challenging a Maryland law designating Good Friday and Easter Monday as official school holidays. ARL also joined an amicus brief in Koenick v. Felton to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. Jewish, Islamic, secular and humanist groups filed the brief with ARL.

  • ARL reprinted Indiana State University historian Richard V. Pierard's article, "Vouchers: The Wrong Medicine for the Ills of Public Education," and distributed them to every member of Congress.

  • ARL staff spoke at 27 meetings and conferences and appeared on radio and television 15 times.


1998

  • Doerr's article, "Promise Keepers," appeared in the March issue of USA Today magazine.

  • Swomley received the American Humanist Association' distinguished service award.

  • Doerr presented a statement to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in connection with a hearing on religion and public education. He warned against proselytizing in public schools and about the difficulties of teaching adequately and fairly about religion in religiously pluralistic schools.

  • ARL joined coalitions to defeat a tuition tax credit scheme for the support of nonpublic schools in Colorado and in opposition to a ban on late-term abortions in Washington State.

  • ARL supported scholars who criticized a Library of Congress exhibit that promoted an accommodationist perspective on church-state relations and engaged in an apparent distortion of early American history.

  • Menendez published Who Goes to Nonpublic Schools: A Study of U.S. Census Data, which revealed that four factors (religious affiliation, high income, ethnic ancestry, and the racial profile of local public schools) were significantly correlated with high private school enrollment throughout the United States.

  • Doerr's article, "Religion and Public Education," appeared in the November issue of the Phi Delta Kappan.

  • ARL staff addressed 33 audiences and conferences and appeared on 35 radio and television programs.


1999

  • ARL joined the Minnesota Civil Liberties Union and other groups in an amicus brief to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in a challenge to Medicare/Medicaid funding of "religious nonmedical health care institutions." The suit sought to halt $50 million in federal tax support for Christian Science facilities.

  • ARL joined Catholics For a Free Choice and 67 other organization from around the world in a petition to the UN requesting a review of the Holy See’s Non-Member Permanent Observer status. The campaign asserts that the UN special status gives preferential treatment to one religion and interferes with progress on women’s rights and health.

  • ARL published Menendez's analysis of the 1998 tuition tax credit/voucher referendum entitled Colorado 1998: Another Voter Defeat for School Vouchers.

  • ARL published Doerr's Vox Populi: Letters to the Editor.

  • Doerr's article, "Give Us Your Money," a report on the U.S. Department of Education's 1998 study on using private and church schools to relieve public school overcrowding, was published in the June issue of the Phi Delta Kappan.

  • Menendez's article, "Hear Ye! Hear Ye!," appeared in the July/August issue of Liberty. His article, "Voters Versus Voters" appeared in the September issue of the Phi Delta Kappan.

  • Menendez and Doerr published an article, "The Wall: Another Look at the Separation Issue," in the September/October issue of Liberty.

  • ARL joined the Maine coalition effort to defeat a referendum banning most abortions.

  • ARL published Swomley's Compulsory Pregnancy: The War Against American Women, an anthology of articles on abortion rights and reproductive freedom.

  • ARL joined the PEARL amicus brief in the Mitchell v. Helms case involving parochiaid before the U.S. Supreme Court.

  • ARL filed an amicus brief in conjunction with other organizations in Child v. Vladeck, a case challenging 1997 federal regulations creating and defining "religious nonmedical health care institutions." The brief was filed in the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.

  • Menendez’s article, "A Candidate Beyond Reform," on Pat Buchanan, was published in the Washington Post on October 3, 1999.

  • ARL staff spoke at 28 meetings and conferences and participated in 17 radio and television programs.


2000

  • ARL asked the U.S. House of Representatives to reject the nomination of the Rev. James Wright to be the House Chaplain. In a letter to every House member, ARL President John Swomley said the selection process was "deeply flawed and . . . violated Article VI of the U.S. Constitution, which banned religious tests for public office."

  • Swomley presented testimony on abortion rights to a Kansas legislative committee.

  • Doerr and Menendez appeared on national cable television programs debating Jerry Falwell and discussing abortion rights and the U.S. House chaplaincy controversy.

  • ARL published an updated version of Doerr's Catholic Schools: The Facts.

  • ARL worked with coalitions in California and Michigan to defeat school voucher ballot initiatives.

  • Menendez’s articles on the Catholic vote in U.S. politics appeared in the September USA Today magazine and Conscience, the journal of Catholics for a Free Choice. A Doerr piece on Catholics and church-state issues also appeared in Conscience.

  • Menendez and Doerr completed work on an updated and expanded version of their earlier book, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom, to be published in late 2001 by Prometheus Books.

  • Menendez’s study of George Bush religious affairs adviser Marvin Olasky was published in the September-October issue of The Humanist.

  • Doerr made 29 speaking appearances in 11 states and was a guest on 10 radio talk or interview shows.

  • Doerr received the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice’s “Courage, Commitment, and Choice Judy Halperin Award.”


2001

  • In a letter to President George W. Bush, ARL asked his “assurance that you will not tolerate religious discrimination in any programs funded with taxpayer dollars.” ARL opposed the administration’s “Community Solutions Act,” the so-called faith-based initiative, as potentially unconstitutional.

  • ARL worked with the national coalition opposed to school vouchers and hailed the defeat of a voucher package in the House on May 23 and in the Senate on June 12.

  • ARL joined with fifty other organizations in a brief challenging the constitutionality of state restrictions on Medicaid funding of abortions in Texas. The case is Bost v. Low Income Women of Texas.

  • Executive director Edd Doerr attended the International Humanist and Ethical Union conference in Oslo, Norway and a UN conference on religion and education in Madrid, Spain.

  • As a delegate to the Unitarian Universalist General Assembly, Doerr helped to pass a resolution opposing President Bush’s proposal to channel public funds to faith-based organizations.

  • ARL joined more than 150 civic, labor, civil liberties, religious and other groups on September 20 in a declaration, “In Defense of Freedom,” urging the U.S. government to preserve civil liberties and constitutional rights in its response to the terrorist attacks on our country.

  • Associate director Al Menendez and Doerr published through ARL a new book, The Case Against Charitable Choice: Why President Bush’s Faith-Based Initiative is Bad Public Policy.

  • ARL joined an amicus brief filed by the National Committee for Public Education and Religious Liberty (PEARL) with the U.S. Supreme Court, supporting the Sixth Circuit Court ruling against the Ohio voucher scheme.

  • ARL staff addressed conferences and meetings in Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Indiana, Arizona, Ohio, California, and the District of Columbia, and appeared on 13 radio programs during the year.

  • Writings by Doerr appeared in Education Week, The New York Times, The National Catholic Reporter, The Washington Post, US News & World Report, The Humanist, and other publications.

  • ARL joined with religious and civil liberty groups in opposing HR 7, the administration’s “Community Solutions Act,” which included substantial public money for church-related organizations.

  • ARL filed an amicus brief before the U.S. Supreme Court asking the court to hear an appeal in a Minnesota case involving governmental aid to and preference for Christian Science nursing homes and sanitoria. The case, Child v. Min De Parle, was decided by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. The American Humanist Association, the Council for Secular Humanism and the American Ethical Union joined ARL as co-petitioners.

  • ARL president John M. Swomley received the Elliott-Black Award from the American Ethical Union in April for his decades of contributions to religious liberty, church-state separation, civil liberties and peace.

  • ARL associate director Albert J. Menendez published “Religion and the 107th Congress” in the Winter 2000/2001 issue of Conscience, the quarterly news journal of Catholics for a Free Choice.

  • ARL filed a brief before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in a case, Steele v. Industrial Development Board, that involves public aid to an church-run college in Tennessee. The Court ruled two-to-one against the church-state separation position. The case is being appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

  • ARL associate director Albert Menendez presented a workshop, “The Case Against Vouchers,” at the Pennsylvania ACLU convention. He also did interviews with Religious News Service, Associated Press, and newspapers in Pittsburgh and Omaha.

  • ARL and other organizations in PEARL (the National Committee for Public Education and Religious Liberty) filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in the Cleveland voucher case (Simmons-Harris v. Zelman).


2002

  • A revised, updated and greatly enlarged edition of Great Quotations on Religious Freedom by Menendez and Doerr was published in January by Prometheus Books. More than 700 quotations on various aspects of religious liberty and separation of church and state are included.

  • ARL joined its allies in the National Coalition for Public Education in urging Congress to reject the Bush administration’s proposed tuition tax credit and voucher experiments in its education omnibus bill.

  • ARL president Edd Doerr presented workshops on church-state issues at the Unitarian Universalist General Assembly in Quebec and at the American Humanist Association conference in Houston. He also addressed several political and educational audiences in Washington, DC and attended a conference on religion and international affairs at the United Nations.

  • ARL associate director Albert Menendez’s article, “Crisis in the Catholic Church,” appeared in the July-August issue of The Humanist.

  • A new ARL board of directors was elected in February, with constitutional law Professor Burton Caine as chair. Doerr’s title was changed from executive director to president.

  • ARL joined with the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice in an amicus curiae brief before the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of NOW v. Scheidler. The case is on appeal from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and involves the use of a federal anti-racketeering law in cases of violence aimed at abortion clinics.

  • ARL president Doerr addressed student, civic, and religious gatherings in Maryland, Ohio, Michigan, Texas, Virginia, New Mexico and the District of Columbia. He blasted the Bush administration’s policies on church-state relations in an October 22 address in Washington, DC. He also appeared as a guest on four television and radio talk shows.

  • ARL filed an amicus curiae brief in the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in a case challenging the constitutionality of a Ten Commandments plaque at the Chester County, Pennsylvania, courthouse.

  • ARL is supporting a Supreme Court appeal in Steele v. Industrial Development Board, a case challenging government aid to a pervasively sectarian university.

  • ARL joined about two dozen other religious and civil liberty groups that urged the state of Nevada to adopt a Religious Freedom Act which strengthens and ensures that the state constitution’s free exercise clause is protected.


2003

  • Edd Doerr’s article “Religion and Public Education” was reprinted in a college textbook for education majors, Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Controversial Education Issues, edited by James Noll and published by McGraw-Hill.

  • Edd Doerr was the featured speaker at a meeting of the Womens’ National Democratic Club in December.

  • Doerr addressed audiences in a dozen cities and states, including Sacramento, New Orleans (the D’Orlando lectureship), Philadelphia, Lincoln (the Sorensen lectureship) and Omaha (Nebraska), Ormond Beach and Daytona Beach, Florida.

  • Al Menendez criticized recent Vatican pronouncements on natural law in a January 16 interview with Washington Times religion writer Larry Witham.

  • ARL filed an amicus curiae brief with the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals, urging affirmation of the district court ruling in Freethought Society v. Chester County, 191 F.Supp.2d 589 (2002). That ruling enjoined the removal of the Ten Commandments plaque from the Chester County Courthouse. The ARL brief was written by Burton Caine, dean of Temple University School of Law and chairman of the ARL Board of Directors.

  • Al Menendez published “Blaming Blaine: A Distortion of History” in order to set the historical record straight about the so-called “Blaine amendments” to 37 state constitutions which ban government aid to “sectarian schools” and other enterprises. Menendez argued that Blaine’s opposition was principled and not a product of anti-Catholic bigotry.

  • Veteran White House journalist Helen Thomas was the recipient of the 2003 Religious Liberty Award presented by ARL. She was cited for “her distinguished career in journalism and her devotion to religious freedom and church-state separation.”

  • ARL joined 40 other civil liberties, religious and educational groups in urging Congress to reject a $10 million voucher appropriation for the District of Columbia.

  • Al Menendez published a study of the Canadian province of Newfoundland’s endorsement of public education and its rejection of more than a century of tax-supported faith-based schools.

  • Doerr and Menendez addressed student audiences in Virginia and were guests on radio and TV talk shows in Washington, New York, Missouri and Louisiana.


2004

  • ARL was a sponsoring organization for the April 25 “March for Women’s Lives” that took place on the Mall in Washington, DC.

  • Doerr was in a church-state debate at the University of Maryland, sponsored by the ACLU. Doerr also addressed student and other audiences in Washington, Maryland, Las Vegas, and the Chicago area.

  • ACLU president Nadine Strossen was the recipient of the 2004 ARL Religious Liberty Award. She was cited for her many contributions as a “champion of civil liberties and religious freedom,” for her work on behalf of “the struggle for human dignity” and in recognition for her and the ACLU’s “decades of work and leadership in defense of civil liberties, religious freedom, and church-state separation.”

  • Edd Doerr published an exhaustive article on how religion is taught in school textbooks in Spain, Newfoundland, the UK and the U.S.

  • ARL signed a letter sent by the National Coalition for Public Educators to all members of the U.S. House of Representatives on July 15, urging them to oppose the continued funding of a private school voucher program for the District of Columbia. On September 20 a letter was sent by the same coalition to the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee urging termination of the voucher plan.

  • Al Menendez’s compilation of the religious affiliations of the members of Congress is featured by Associated Press.

2005

  • ARL expands and improves its web site, www.arlinc.org, to include a wide range of information and analysis.

  • Voice of Reason, ARL’s quarterly newsletter, becomes a journal and expands its size and coverage.

  • ARL joins several Jewish groups in an amicus curiae brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in Van Orden v. Perry, a Ten Commandments case from Texas.

  • ARL joins a Baptist Joint Committee amicus brief to the Florida Supreme Court urging it to uphold a lower court ban on the state’s voucher program.

  • In other amicus briefs, ARL supported Oregon’s physician-assisted suicide law. (Gonzales v. Oregon), free exercise of religion for prisoners (Cutter v. Wilkinson) and religious free exercise (Gonzales v. O Centro Espirito).

  • Edd Doerr addressed the New York Society for Ethical Culture in May and Al Menendez spoke to the National Education Association’s annual conference in Los Angeles in June. The texts of both speeches are available on ARL’s website.

2006

  • Voice of Reason is redesigned to include more news and analysis.

  • ARL signs on to an amicus brief in a Missouri Supreme Court case, Planned Parenthood v. Nixon, involving reproductive rights and freedom of speech.

  • ARL joins with 50 other groups in releasing a public statement, “The Truth About Vouchers,” summarizing flaws in the voucher movement and its threat to public education.

  • ARL signed an amicus brief in Gonzales v. Carhart and Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood, urging the Supreme Court to uphold freedom of conscience in reproductive health matters.


Appendix 1


ARL's First Ten Years


Americans for Religious Liberty completed its first ten ears n March 1992. From its modest beginnings, it has grown to a membership of over 8,000 and has made an impact on the national scene well out of proportion to its small size. It has submitted important amicus curiae briefs to the Supreme Court and is supporting federal court litigation challenging religious liberty and church-state separation violations. Its president and executive director have addressed audiences from coast to coast. In the last three years. ARL has published four significant books covering the major current religious liberty problem areas. (An interesting bit of trivia: ARL's staff, board, and advisory board members have published an aggregate total of nearly 1,000 books and uncounted thousands of articles.)

To mark ARL's tenth anniversary, its principal founders, Edward L. Ericson and Sherwin T. Wine, contributed the following articles.


Edward L. Ericson


The events that led to the birth of ARL read like a fictional adventure in serendipity. (Readers will recall that the word was coined by Walpole from a tale in which a series of remarkable chance encounters produces astonishing results.)

Two separate beginnings -- in Michigan and New York -- each unknown and unrelated to the other -- led to the ultimate formation of ARL as it exists today. I took the initiative in New York City and Rabbi Sherwin Wine did similarly in Michigan. Each of us contemplated a nationwide effort to defend secular democracy and the separation of church and state.

During the presidential campaign of 1980, I became increasingly concerned by the strident attacks of the Radical Right on religious diversity and the principles of secular public education. When that September, following summer recess, I opened the new season of the New York Society for Ethical Culture, where I served as Senior Leader, I announced my determination to organize a broadly-based grassroots movement to counter the New Right's political juggernaut.

At a Sunday meeting devoted to this challenge, a well-known Unitarian layman, Donald Field, chanced to be present and offered to help organize our fledgling effort, especially to involve Unitarian Universalists. The Rev. Carl Flemister, Executive Minister of the American Baptist Churches of Metropolitan New York -- a respected black leader of an integrated denomination -- also joined in. My friends Isaac Asimov and his wife Dr. Janet Jeppson were early and generous supporters.

Through his Unitarian Universalist connections, Don Field recruited Sen. Frank Church to be our principal speaker at a mass rally, held in February, 1981 at the Ethical Society Meetinghouse. More than 1600 people packed the main hall and wired lecture rooms of the Society, with hundreds of others turned away. Recently defeated for reelection by an anti-abortion crusade, Sen. Church warned us that the nation was in for a period of repressive legislation and hate-driven politics. Church readily consented to be the first name on our National Advisory Board and was an enthusiastic supporter until his death from cancer not long after.

As a result of these and other efforts, we were able to expand our network of concerned activists from the Atlantic states to California. Only then we chanced to learn that Rabbi Sherwin Wine and a supportive group in Michigan -- during the same interval -- were engaged in a virtually identical effort. Although Rabbi Wine and I had known each other in earlier years, neither of us knew of the other's undertaking. Once we discovered the coincidence, it was short work to agree that the two efforts should be merged. Americans for Religious Liberty is the outcome of that resolution.

But the crowning stroke of serendipity occurred at the very conference that united our endeavor. Edd Doerr -- already recognized as one of the leading champions of church-state separation in the nation -- stepped forward and volunteered to direct a fully professional national office in Washington. Both Rabbi Wine and I had previously known and worked with Edd on public affairs issues. There was no question that his leadership would bring success and distinction to the new organization.

But our combined budget was sufficient only to cover printing costs and mailings, since all previous services had been rendered by volunteers. Despite this, Edd generously offered to accept the post of full-time executive director without compensation until such time as a salary could be gradually phased in. Without this devoted sacrifice by Edd, his wife, and their family, we would not today enjoy the dynamic national presence that ARL has attained. Our staff has been augmented by Edd's capable assistant Marie Gore and indefatigable researcher-writer Al Menendez.

As we look back upon the decade that has transpired since ARL's beginnings, it is fully evident that the concern that motivated us to organize was fully justified. Two consecutive presidents have assiduously aided and abetted the Radical Right's social agenda. Piecemeal undermining of the First Amendment by crippling equivocation is required of judges to be considered for appointment to the Supreme Court. The lower courts -- from which future Supreme Court justices will be selected -- are being filled with right-wing ideologues who must pass the litmus test of anti-abortion, school prayer, and Willy Horton jurisprudence. The Chief Justice, zealous pointman for the assault on First Amendment freedoms, has contemptuously shrugged off Jefferson's "all of separation" between church and state as bad history and bad la. Justice Rehnquist obviously pretends never to have read Madison's historic Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments, when he perversely claims "original intent" to justify breaching that wall.

Those who contended a decade ago that we were overreacting to the danger posed by the Extreme Right -- and many in the liberal, moderate, and responsible conservative communities made that mistake -- have been proved grievously, perilously wrong. The constitutional barbarians were even then at the gates. They now occupy the inner temple.

Those who love "freedom, tolerance, and diversity in moral, religious, and intellectual life" -- the announced values of our fledgling grassroots organization -- need Americans for Religious Liberty more than ever before. On ARL's tenth anniversary, which roughly coincides with the two-hundredth anniversary of the Bill of Rights, Americans are faced once again with the necessity to struggle to regain lost ground and safeguard our imperiled human rights.


Sherwin T. Wine


Ten years ago the Voice of Reason was established in Michigan to fight Jerry Falwell and the Moral Majority. Reagan was our new president. The invasion of Afghanistan had revived the Cold War. Political fundamentalism was feeling the euphoria of political victory.

Jerry Falwell assaulted the foundations of the secular state. He demanded prayer in the public schools. He called for the purification of educational literature. He equated the neutral stand of state secularity with a religion called "secular humanism" and insisted that it receive no more state support.

We were frightened because political fundamentalism is different from religious fundamentalism. Religious fundamentalism is a religious option and has been around for many centuries. As long as the state did not interfere with its freedom of action it was willing to accept the secular state. In fact, its historic dislike for the Catholic Church made it an ardent defender of the secular state against Catholic Church encroachment. But political fundamentalism is different. It is a deliberate campaign by radical conservative Protestants to take over the government of the United States and to remold the lives of Americans to conform to fundamentalist ideals. Religious neutrality is anathema to political fundamentalists. They want a "Christian America," using their own constricted definition of "Christian."

In 1981 everything seemed to be going well for the supporters of the Radical Religious Right. They had a painful recession. They had a resurgent aggressive Communism. They had crime and moral decay in the cities of America. They had a disillusioned progressive movement exhausted from the Vietnam War. They had a declining and confused Protestant establishment. They had a secure base in a revived South, angry over Black power, affirmative action and civil liberties.

They brought to these unearned assets their own genius and commitment -- a simple explanation for complex ills, absolute certainty on moral and life style issues, armies of well-trained and enthusiastic volunteers, the willingness to infiltrate the Republican Party and to elect its own spokespersons, and the foresight to blend the message of the past with the media technology of the future.

In the end, political fundamentalists did not achieve their political goal. They failed to take power. The campaign of Pat Robertson was their final gasp of the 1980s. Scandal, the decline of communism and insufficient numbers subverted their effort. But they did succeed in changing the political leadership and the American political agenda. The demand for radical religious solutions to America's "moral decay" was still abroad. And they had managed to forge an alliance with their historic enemy, the conservative Catholics, to fight legal freedom of choice on abortion.

Today the Radical Right is making a new appearance, a more dangerous one than that of Jerry Falwell and the Moral Majority. David Duke and Patrick Buchanan have made their political debut. They add racism and chauvinism to the pleas for a Christian America. The context of their messages is an economic recession far deeper and far more serious than that of ten years ago. Americans are filled with fear about the future. And they are looking for simple and clear answers to their problems.

Ironically, the fall of Communism has not served to diffuse the fundamentalist message. It has mainly served to discredit the Left and all its causes. Secularism and socialism seem to go together in the eyes of many people. The secular state and interventionist economies are a team in the fantasies of the new propaganda. Deep religious commitment is equated with the love of freedom. Religious faith is touted as the foundation of a moral democracy. All the "crazies" of the Right -- anti-Black, anti-Oriental, anti-Semitic -- who were reluctant to speak out before have been given courage by their comrades in Eastern Europe who now openly proclaim fascist alternatives to Communism more frightening than institutional Communism.

With the absence of the Communist enemy, the new enemy of the Right in America may be a trio of "welfare Blacks," Jews and secular humanists. This odd combination may be joined by a backlash against all non-white foreigners, especially the hated Japanese. The racism of David Duke will be joined to the neo-isolationism of Pat Buchanan and the fundamentalist credo of Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell. The code word for this terrifying mish-mash will be "Christian America." The election of 1992 will be a mean election. Both establishment Republicans and Democrats will feel the fury of the revived Radical Right. And they will have a hard time resisting the demands of their opponents. The call for school prayer, "Bible values" and "right to life" will be combined with appealing cries for protective tariffs and walls against immigrants.

If ever there was a need for a voice of reason, now is the time. Hard times and the new confidence of the Radical Right will make the advocacy of a secular state difficult and controversial. We have no choice but to speak out as we spoke out ten years ago.

The secular state, which we offer as the alternative to the vision of the proponents of a "Christian America" rests on four foundations. The first is personal freedom, the right of individuals to choose their life style, with no interference from government or private associations. The second is religious freedom, the refusal of the state to endorse or support any particular religious or anti-religious movement and the refusal of the state to participate in the affairs of any denomination. The third is the defense of science and rational inquiry from the encroachments of religious dogma, especially in public schools and universities. And the fourth is the promotion of civic virtue through the public teaching of responsible self-discipline, compassion and tolerance, these values deriving their authority not only from religious faith but also from shared reason and common sense.

The secular state will not cure our economic woes. But it will protect our human dignity. Both the American Bill of Rights and the French Declaration of Human Rights were its founding documents. Although they have just celebrated their 200th anniversaries, the political vision they offer is still extremely vulnerable. They need our help to survive.



Americans for Religious Liberty - P.O.Box 6656 - Silver Spring, MD 20916
Telephone: 301-460-1111 - Email: arlinc@verizon.net