State/church watchdog erects billboards in Colorado Springs

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A national nontheist group and its local chapter have installed a couple of timely billboards in Colorado Springs, Colo.

"The only wall we need is between church and state," reads one, set up by the Freedom From Religion Foundation and the state/church watchdog's Colorado Springs chapter. "Vouchers hurt our public schools," states the other.

The billboards can be found south of Highway 24 east of Academy Boulevard and on a board against the iconic backdrop of Pikes Peak on Interstate 225 north of Pikes Peak Raceway.

FFRF is a national group with more than 28,000 nonreligious members and chapters all over the country, including almost 800 members and two chapters in Colorado.
The organization and its chapter want to call attention to major new threats to the wall of separation.

FFRF Colorado Springs Chapter Director Gary King takes note of President Trump's promotion of federal tuition tax credits to pay for vouchers for religious schools. He points out that Coloradoans voted soundly in 1998 to eliminate tax credits for vouchers and in 1992 against vouchers. In 2015, the Colorado Supreme Court struck down a voucher program in the state's largest school district, finding it unconstitutional because it gave money to religious schools. 

"How many times does Colorado need to say no to vouchers?" King asks.

FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor observes that Trump's other major state/church initiative is to "totally destroy" the Johnson Amendment's prohibition against church politicking. On May 4, the day Trump signed his so-called "religious liberty" executive order, FFRF filed a federal lawsuit to ensure even-handed enforcement of the Internal Revenue Service electioneering code.

The famed "wall of separation" phrase derives from a famous letter that President Thomas Jefferson wrote the Baptists of Danbury, Conn., on Jan. 1, 1802, explaining that the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution "erects a wall of separation between church and state." Jefferson wrote the letter knowing it would become precedent, first clearing it with his attorney general. The U.S. Supreme Court has used the phrase for more than a century as a metaphor to explain the Establishment Clause.

"We hope that this billboard campaign will highlight the need to keep that 'wall of separation' impermeable to new assaults," adds Gaylor.

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The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational charity, is the nation's largest association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics), and has been working since 1978 to keep religion and government separate.

FFRF is a non-profit, educational organization. All dues and donations are deductible for income-tax purposes.

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