Americans for Religious Liberty: A Short History
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
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.
* * *
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
executive director Edd Doerr’s book, Religious Liberty in
Crisis, an introduction to the major church-state issues of the
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
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.
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.”
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
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.”
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
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
ARL supported a
federal court challenge to the Boy Scouts of America, involving
charges of religious discrimination against atheists, in Welsh v.
ARL staff addressed 23 audiences
and appeared on 14 radio and television programs.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
ARL treasurer Ken Gjemre
received the Dallas Peace Center’s Peacemaker of the Year
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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."
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
ARL staff addressed 24 audiences
and appeared on radio and television 12 times.
Swomley's Myths About Public School Prayer, a book which
explores and examines the misinformation purveyed by prayer
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.
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
Church and State in Canada, was published by Prometheus
ARL participated in a Washington
state coalition against a voucher referendum.
"Pat Robertson's Agenda for America" appeared in the July
issue of USA Today magazine.
"Trick or Treat: Halloween in the Public Schools,"
appeared in the November/December 1996 issue of Liberty
"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.
published a trade edition of ARL's The Case Against School
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
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.
"The Vatican Connection: How the Roman Catholic Church
Influences the Republican Party," appeared in the April issue
of Christian Ethics Today.
"The Empty Promise of School Vouchers," appeared in the
March issue of USA Today magazine.
"By the Rules? Behind the FEC Lawsuit Against the Christian
Coalition," was published in the May/June issue of Liberty
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.
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.
"Promise Keepers," appeared in the March issue of USA
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
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.
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.
"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.
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.
Menendez's analysis of the 1998 tuition tax credit/voucher
referendum entitled Colorado 1998: Another Voter Defeat for
Doerr's Vox Populi: Letters to the Editor.
"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.
"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.
Swomley's Compulsory Pregnancy: The War Against American Women,
an anthology of articles on abortion rights and reproductive
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.
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
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
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.
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.
study of George Bush religious affairs adviser Marvin Olasky was
published in the September-October issue of The Humanist.
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
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
Executive director Edd Doerr
attended the International Humanist and Ethical Union conference in
Oslo, Norway and a UN conference on religion and education in
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
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.
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
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.
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).
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
director Albert Menendez’s article, “Crisis in the
Catholic Church,” appeared in the July-August issue of The
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
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
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
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.
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
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,
criticized recent Vatican pronouncements on natural law in a January
16 interview with Washington Times religion writer Larry
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
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
ARL joined 40 other civil
liberties, religious and educational groups in urging Congress to
reject a $10 million voucher appropriation for the District of
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
Doerr and Menendez addressed
student audiences in Virginia and were guests on radio and TV talk
shows in Washington, New York, Missouri and Louisiana.
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
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.
expands and improves its web site, www.arlinc.org, to include a wide range of
information and analysis.
of Reason, ARL’s quarterly newsletter, becomes a journal and expands its
size and coverage.
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.
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.
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).
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.
of Reason is redesigned to include more news and analysis.
signs on to an amicus brief in a Missouri Supreme Court case, Planned
Parenthood v. Nixon, involving reproductive rights and freedom of speech.
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
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.
ARL's First Ten Years
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
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
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
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
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: firstname.lastname@example.org