The American Humanist Association warned Iowa Governor Terry Branstad that his proclamation promoting Christian scripture and a Bible-reading marathon from June 30 through July 3 violates the First Amendment and the rights of non-Christian Iowans.
“The governor’s endorsement of the Bible violates our nation’s founding principle of the separation of religion and government,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. “In exalting Christianity above all other religious and nonreligious worldviews, the governor is discriminating against non-Christian citizens and infringing upon their right to be free from religious coercion by the state.”
In April, Gov. Branstad signed a proclamation that encourages all Iowans to read the Bible on a daily basis and to participate in the Iowa 99 County Bible Reading Marathon. The proclamation also claims that the United States is founded upon “biblical principles and Judeo-Christian ethics” and that “the Bible is recognized as the one true revelation from God.” In response, yesterday, the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center joined the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Iowa, the Freedom from Religion Foundation and the Iowa Atheists and Freethinkers in contacting the governor’s office, objecting to the proclamation’s unconstitutional advancement of Christianity.
“As governor, Terry Branstad has a duty to uphold the Constitution, a duty he clearly ignores by using his office to promote Christianity,” said David Niose, legal director of the American Humanist Association. “The governor is inviting litigation by showing a complete disregard for the Establishment Clause, and we urge him to withdraw the proclamation immediately.”
The American Humanist Association and its Appignani Humanist Legal Center urge the governor to refrain from future promotions of Christian scripture and of religion.
The American Humanist Association’s warning to Governor Branstad can be viewed here.
This press release can be viewed online here.
Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., the American Humanist Association (AHA) works to protect the rights of humanists, atheists, and other nontheistic Americans. The AHA advances the ethical and life-affirming philosophy of humanism, which—without beliefs in any gods or other supernatural forces—encourages individuals to live informed and meaningful lives that aspire to the greater good of humanity.