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July 22, 2023

Added the seventy-eighth Freethinker Podcast YouTube fifth Interview with Edward Tabash on the Court Dismantling Separation of Church & State (2023) to the Freethinker Podcast page under Resources on the Secular Web.

Check out this about an hour return interview between host Edouard Tahmizian and Los Angeles constitutional lawyer Edward Tabash about two US Supreme Court cases decided at the end of June 2023 impacting the separation of church and state. In Groff v. DeJoy, the Court decided that a federal civil rights law requires employers to make substantial accommodations to federal workers’ religious views, forcing nonreligious workers to work on otherwise off days to cover religious workers observing the Sabbath. In 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, the Court decided that a Christian graphic designer has a special right to avoid complying with Colorado’s anti-discrimination laws by refusing requests to design websites for the weddings of same-sex couples. The new Court has developed a two-pronged strategy in dealing with First Amendment religious exercise cases, with Groff v. DeJoy exemplifying openly allowing government promotion of religious ideals, and 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis allowing religious exemptions to laws (such as anti-discrimination laws) that apply to institutions that serve purposes that are not religious. But as Tabash conclusively shows, the Founding Fathers clearly intended that nonbelievers be treated equal under the law to believers, undermining Religious Right claims that either the United States is a Christian Nation, or else that the First Amendment permits legal favoritism for religious belief generally over nonbelief. Tabash then turns to upcoming free exercise cases on their way to the Supreme Court and more pressing threats to nonbelievers’ constitutional rights.

Particularly disturbing are signs that the Religious Right is attempting to replace the existing US Constitution with a version that would undermine First Amendment rights by invoking Article 5, in which two-thirds of States (all Houses of 38 legislatures) can call for a Constitutional Convention. 19 States have already fully voted on this in all their legislative Houses, and 7 additional States already have one legislative House that has voted for this convention. The former include Nebraska, Georgia, Alaska, Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, Indiana, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arizona, North Dakota, Texas, Missouri, Arkansas, Utah, Nebraska, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and South Carolina, and the latter include New Mexico, Iowa, South Dakota, Virginia, North Carolina, New Hampshire, and Wyoming. Tabash believes that those in Nebraska or States where both houses have passed the Convention should contact their legislatures in both Houses (or the one House in Nebraska) asking them reverse the decision and repeal the convention call, while those in the latter should contact their representatives in the one legislature that has already voted for it and ask them to consider reversing their decision, and contact the representatives in the other, yet-to-ratify House and urge them not to ratify it. Those in remaining states, Tabash urges, should call members of both Houses of their state legislatures and urge them to vote against the resolution or decline to consider it.