Despite campaign promises to the contrary, President Obama has failed to end religious discrimination by religious groups. Church groups funded with "faith-based" tax dollars discriminate in hiring for their unconstitutional programs. We might have expected such behavior (and funding) if Republicans ran the executive branch but who on the Democratic/Independent side expected not just a continuation but an expansion of such endeavors? The faith-based (meaning without evidence) funding efforts are an egregious violation of the establishment clause. It's a big disappointment - even worse than having to listen to Rick Warren at the inauguration or the president himself end every speech with his ritual "and God bless the United States of America" - year, sure thing). There really isn't much we can do about it because no secularist could shift allegiance to the Republicans! Things would be voluminously worse under God's Own Party, the GOP.
There are other, related church/state concerns. One is that women must not be denied access to preventative health care services (contraceptives, abortion, etc.). This is a concern as the new health care law takes effect owing to the discriminatory religious beliefs of theistic employer institutions. Another concern is the need to review IRS regulations that exempt a parsonage from taxation. Government has no business granting special privileges to religion. Doing so, as leaders of the Secular Coalition for America recently pointed out, forces secular Americans to underwrite the endorsement of superstition and dogma with our tax dollars.
We are at a time in this nation's history when candidates seeking the Republican presidential nomination attend rallies of the faithful and say crazy things to suck up to them. Last week, at the preposterously named Values Voter Summit (as opposed to what - the Amoral Voter Summit?) in Washington, DC., the candidates competed to appear holier than thou AND each other. It was a national embarrassment - and dismaying to anyone who values reason, let along actual vales of human decency.
All who cherish a secular Republic should consider making their voices heard, in some forum, somewhere. Everyone has outlets, even if only via communicates with friends and family members. However, it's even better if you also send a few messages via social networks.
To quote the clarion call of the Secular Coalition:
We know that things aren't going to change overnight. It is going to take many more long days spent on the Hill, and countless more emails, phone calls, and visits from our supporters before politicians get the message: We will not sit idly by while our tax dollars subsidize religious discrimination, proselytizing, and politicking from the pulpit. You have already done so much, but we still need your help. We need to you get the word out. If you aren't already, follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Make sure that your family and friends know the facts about these important issues and that no one can afford to sit on the sidelines. Write letters to the editor, call your members of Congress, and make sure that your voice is being heard...We have to remind Congress that forcing beliefs on others is not religious freedom. We can make a difference in the lives of all Americans by keeping our government secular. We have the facts, reason, and a vibrant community of supporters on our side. If we continue to speak out and make our voices heard, we will win this fight.
If you want to go all the way, learn more about and consider attending the Reason Rally in Washington, D.C. Set for March 24, 2012, from 10:00AM – 4:00PM at the Washington Mall, the Reason Rally is designed to unify, energize and embolden secular people nationwide, while dispelling the negative opinions held by so much of American society. And, most important, everyone can have a good time supporting a great cause - freedom from religion and the injustice of having to support it. Rally features will include music, comedy, enlightening speakers and, best of all, it will be entirely free.