Protecting Religious Freedom
Separation of Church and State
The Texas Freedom Network supports the guarantee of church-state separation that protects the right of all Americans to practice the faith of their choice, free of government interference and partisan politics. This guarantee is grounded in the First Amendment to the U. S. Constitution:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." (Full text of U.S. Constitution)
It is also reiterated in the Texas Constitution:
Article 1, Section 6
"All men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences. No man shall be compelled to attend, erect or support any place of worship, or to maintain any ministry against his consent. No human authority ought, in any case whatever, to control or interfere with the rights of conscience in matters of religion, and no preference shall ever be given by law to any religious society or mode of worship. But it shall be the duty of the Legislature to pass such laws as may be necessary to protect equally every religious denomination in the peaceable enjoyment of its own mode of public worship." (Full text of Texas Constitution)
The mixing of partisan politics and religion, however, has been growing in recent decades.
In Our Churches
Recent elections have seen efforts by both political parties to organize churches and other religious institutions to turn out voters for candidates and raise money for political parties. Political interests groups continue to co-opt religious congregations as an outreach tool to distribute partisan literature and biased voter guides.
In Our Schools
The adoption of public school curriculum and textbooks at the Texas State Board of Education is often hijacked in an attempt to insert religious ideology into children's classrooms. Ongoing attempts to mandate state-sponsored school prayer and sectarian Bible courses represent other efforts to erase the line separating church and state in our neighborhood schools.
In the Texas Legislature
Texas has become a laboratory for ideas that merge the separate domains of religion and government. From its troubled experiment with the faith-based initiative to efforts to force public schools to offer devotional Bible courses, Texas' biennial legislative session always brings a slate of challenges to religious liberties.