Category Archives: First Amendment

Christianity infests the State Department, violating the First Amendment

Newsweek and HuffPo report that this was the the U.S. Department of State’s homepage yesterday: I checked a few minutes ago, and the homepage entry has been changed to this: HuffPo reports this: The U.S. State Department’s main homepage was updated on Monday to show a photo of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo with the […]

Pinker on free speech and academic freedom

Here’s a short Big Think talk by Steve Pinker, much demonized by the success-hating Pharyngula crowd as well as those who make their living by prognosticating the demise and degradation of humanity or our lack of social progress. Here Steve advances the well-known arguments for both free speech and academic freedom, which is simply free […]

National television networks refuse to air First-Amendment commercial featuring JFK

A news release from the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) tells us that while this FFRF commercial featuring John F. Kennedy was played three years ago on the ABC television network, it was rejected by ABC for airing during the Democratic debates in Houston tomorrow.  This was after ABC refused a much more provocative ad, […]

More First-Amendment shenanigans: Federal court rules that a Christian cross on a county emblem is not religious

In late June, the Supreme Court made a portentously bad decision, ruling that the “Bladensburg Cross”, a giant cross on public land in Maryland, did not violate the First Amendment’s stipulation of freedom of (and from) religion. (The vote was lopsided: 7-2.) The reasons was the usual one: that by merely existing for a long […]

What free speech isn’t

Ken White is an attorney specializing in free-speech issues, and is the main contributor to the well-known and useful law website Popehat. This week he has a good article in The Atlantic about American free-speech law, which you can read by clicking on the screenshot below: We talk a lot about free speech on this […]

South Dakota requires all public schools to PROMINENTLY display “In God We Trust”

We all know that “In God We Trust” is the U.S. national motto, though the unofficial motto—a much better one—is E pluribus unum (“Out of many, one”). The former is divisive, the latter unifying. The change in mottos was made in 1956, during the Cold War, and was largely a response to “godless Communism”: an […]

I was wrong about religious proselytizing in National Parks

Yesterday, incensed by the presence of a pair of proselytizing Jehovah’s Witnesses in a lovely little National Park, Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park, I wrote a post wondering whether this kind of leaflet-mongering was legal, or somehow violated the First Amendment. According to reader Jenny Haniver’s comment on that post, my suspicions that this […]

Another defeat for the First Amendment: Supreme Court rules that the “Bladensburg cross” is not a religious symbol

The strategy of American courts in their desire to continue allowing religious incursion into the government—be it “In God We Trust” on our money or religious symbols on public land—has been to pretend that religious symbols and mottos morph into nonreligious, historical and secular icons over time. This is patently bogus, an offense to anybody […]

Southern states try to circumvent the First Amendment by teaching the Bible in public schools

I’ve always been wary of teaching “religious studies” below the college level, and for two reasons. First, as in the case discussed below, it’s too often an excuse to proselytize religion in public schools—a violation of the First Amendment. Second, even if you’re doing it to give children a sense of history and culture, there […]

Williams College finally allows a pro-Israel student organization to exist, but without official approval

On April 25 I reported that the Williams College student council, by a vote of 13-8, rejected the bid of Williams Initiative for Israel (WIFI), a pro-Israel student organization, to join the many student organizations already approved. These include the pro-Palestinian organization Students for Justice In Palestine (SJP). Based on its actions and anti-Zionist stand, […]