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States Face Avalanche Of Bills Affecting Church And State, Reports AU.

State legislatures are considering a large number of bills that threaten church-state separation, according to a new survey by Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

Vouchers and other forms of religious school aid are pending in 24 states. "Charitable choice" bills that subsidize church-run social services are expected in eight. Eleven states face efforts to allow the posting of the Ten Commandments in public schools or other government buildings, and 15 states are weighing measures dealing with prayer or other religion-in-schools issues. Proposals that would water down the teaching of evolution or introduce creationism are pending in five states.

The AU analysis of bills affecting church-state relations includes measures that have been pre-filed, already introduced in legislatures or that are strongly expected. The state-by-state survey was undertaken by Ann Mulligan, Americans United's states legislative coordinator.

"It's going to be a busy year," Mulligan remarked. "Americans United will face a variety of church-state problems in legislatures across the nation. We will definitely have to call on our members to help us educate lawmakers about these dangerous proposals and why they violate the separation of church and state."

Mulligan noted that only six states do not have legislative sessions this year -- Arkansas, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon and Texas. All other states face at least one bill that presents church-state problems, although many states face several problems. Some of the states with multiple bills include Wisconsin, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Colorado.

Mulligan urged Americans United members to keep abreast of current developments in their own states by checking on the status of church-state legislation through AU's website: www.au.org.
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Publication:Church & State
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2000
Words:272
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