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church and state

church exterior
Flickr user: richevenhouse

In the U.S., the separation of church and state sounds like a clear division. But sometimes that line is blurrier than you might think. There’s a law on the books in Michigan that makes it a misdemeanor to encourage people to vote a certain way by offering them inducements or by threatening them with punishments. For example, your employer can’t fire you because of your vote. The law was enacted in the 1950s and one section specifically prohibits religious leaders from threatening parishioners with excommunication over politics.

User: Nheyob / Wikimedia Commons

State Senator Patrick Colbeck of Canton is sometimes referred to as the “most conservative” or “furthest right” member of the legislature.

Shemaiah Telemaque/iadMedia / flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A federal appeals court says the Jackson County Commission regularly violated the U.S. Constitution by opening its meetings with a Christian prayer.

In a 2-1 ruling, a panel of the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held the commission violated the Establishment Clause.  The Establishment Clause says government bodies cannot favor one religion over others.

Michigan Supreme Court
Michigan Supreme Court / court.mi.gov

The Michigan Supreme Court will decide whether courts may step into resolve a dispute between dueling factions of a Baptist congregation without violating the separation of church and state.

The court agreed today to decide whether it will take the case or allow a lower court decision to stand.

Aaron Cooley Themm

GEORGETOWN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - Officials in western Michigan's Ottawa County are expected to discuss the removal of a sign bearing the Bible's Psalm 19:1 verse from a public park.

  Mlive.com reports that parks and recreation staff were told to take down the sign which had been in Hager Park since the late 1960s or early 1970s after a Georgetown Township resident complained it promoted a particular religious view using public resources.

The issue has been added to the Jan. 13 Ottawa County commissioners' work session meeting.