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The issue at hand.

When President George W. Bush first pushed for his faith-based initiative, the issue of church-state separation became a hot topic in the mainstream media. But now--in the face of continuous terror alerts, the 9/11 Commission report, insurgency in Iraq, the prison torture scandal, and forthcoming elections in Afghanistan and the United States--breeches in the Jeffersonian wall of separation between church and state haven't been high on the mainstream media's list.

The problem remains a priority for Humanists, however. Indeed, all too often, were it not for Humanists, almost nobody would be watching the latest religious entanglements with government--those going on behind the scenes as well as those in plain sight. And significant church-state issues are now coming to light that need to be addressed. Therefore, in keeping with a longstanding and sadly necessary Humanist tradition, this issue of the Humanist focuses on what most others are ignoring: a trio of critical First Amendment violations going on right under the public's nose.

We naturally start with President Bush. After a revealing speech he gave at a White House gathering of conservative Christian supporters (and those receiving support from his administration), Humanist reporter Mariah Richardson-Osgood discovered a solid entrenchment of Bush's faith-based initiative at both the federal and state levels. Bureaucrats are now trained not only to favor but to seek out faith groups when it comes to distributing government largesse. Bypassing Congress through the power of the executive order, Bush has created a faith bias in select areas of government funding that will likely continue long after he is out of office.

Meanwhile, members of Congress have attended sermons by Unification Church founder Sun Myung Moon in which he has declared himself the messiah. One of these, held in a U.S. Senate office building, was followed by a ceremony in which some elected officials crowned him like a king! Moon clearly has the money that brings power, including the money to establish or buy up major media outlets. Humanist reporter Anna Kaplan tracked it all down.

Scientology has been busy, too--for decades. Working often at the local level through secular nonprofit organizations established by the Church of Scientology, many of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard's ideas are being taught in U.S. public schools, at local YMCAs, at special centers, and elsewhere. Does any of this create a church-state separation problem? Does it involve pseudoscience? These are the questions at issue. So Humanist reporter Robin Jacobs went right to the source to find out just where such teaching is taking place and just what the curriculum is.

Clearly these are big times for certain types of religion in America. We may see just how big with the August 3 l, 2004, video release of Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ. In anticipation of the release, Michael Parenti gives reminder that it wasn't the Jews who killed Jesus; it was centuries of Jesus' followers who killed Jews.
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Title Annotation:United States; church and state; The Humanist
Author:Edwords, Fred
Publication:The Humanist
Article Type:Editorial
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2004
Words:488
Previous Article:Humanist profile: Francis Crick 1986 Humanist distinguished service awardee.
Next Article:What critical inquiry?
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