For use at your Passover Seder

Ten Modern Plagues That Threaten America’s Separation of Religion and Government


No, we didn’t invent the concept of writing “Modern Plagues” to call attention to social issues during Passover, a holiday intended to remind us of injustices. We do have a unique entry into the field, though: plagues that threaten America’s church-state separation, which is supposed to be protected by our Constitution’s First Amendment. Please download and print the PDF for use at your Seder, or cut-and-paste from below to share:

Ten Modern Plagues

That Threaten America’s Separation of Religion and Government

  • Favoritism
    Despite the constitutional prohibition against a national religion, court rulings and policies continue to favor one religion over others or none, for example by allowing federally-funded adoption agencies to discriminate against non-Protestants.[1]
  • Exclusion
    By claiming crosses and other Christian iconography are “secular,” the courts erase Americans of other or no religions, as with the taxpayer-maintained Bladensburg Cross that supposedly represents all local WWI war dead yet excluded the names of Jewish soldiers.[2]

  • Discrimination
    By twisting the notion of “religious freedom,” the government supports discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people in the commercial,[3] public,[4] and military[5] sectors.
  • Enforced Ignorance
    Laws requiring school standards for secular subjects like science and English are not being enforced, allowing fundamentalist Christian schools to teach that man coexisted with dinosaurs[6] and fundamentalist Jewish schools to barely provide secular education at all.[7]

  • Diversion
    Although religious organizations receive tax-exempt status in lieu of government funding—to maintain the separation of church and state—the government still seeks to divert funding to churches anyway, through grants for repairs[8] and school voucher programs.[9]

  • Obfuscation
    Christian fundamentalists disguise their religious agenda as education, influencing local governments and school boards to teach intelligent design as science[10] and mandate bible courses in public schools.[11]

  • Meddling
    State and federal government policies toward women’s reproductive rights and health care are increasingly influenced by a fundamentalist Christian religious approach, resulting in a sustained assault on Roe v. Wade.[12]

  • Denial
    The urgency of addressing climate change is downplayed by government officials beholden to big polluting industries, who hide behind religious claims that we can “leave it in the hands of a much, much higher authority.”[13]
  • Subversion
    Through a well-documented[14] plan by Christian supremacists, Project Blitz is a coordinated effort to overwhelm state and federal legislatures with bills promoting their religious agenda, such as anti-LGBTQ laws and requiring “In God We Trust” signs in all public schools.[15]
  • Privilege
    In order to consolidate their already-strong sway over government, Christian fundamentalists seek to repeal the Johnson Amendment[16] that prevents non-profits including churches from endorsing political candidates; without it, unlimited dark money would pour into campaigns through churches and turn houses of worship into political tools.

Passover is about freedom! America is supposed to be about freedom too!

Help bring real religious freedom—freedom for all religions, and freedom from religious coercion—by demanding that the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution be upheld through a truly neutral, secular government.

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Jews for a Secular Democracy

[1] “S.C. group can reject gays and Jews as foster parents, Trump admin says,” NBC News, January 24, 2019.

[2] “40-Foot Cross Divides a Community and Prompts a Supreme Court Battle,” NY Times, February 24, 2019.

[3] “The Trump Administration Is Trying to Make It Easier for Doctors to Deny Care to LGBTQ People,” Rewire News, January 28, 2019.

[4] “Here’s Everywhere In The U.S. You Can Still Get Fired For Being Gay Or Trans,” Fast Company, August 28, 2017.

[5] “Everything you need to know about the transgender military ban,” Axios, April 12, 2019.

[6] “Private schools’ curriculum downplays slavery, says humans and dinosaurs lived together,” Orlando Sentinel, June 1, 2018.

[7] “Half of Yeshivas Under Investigation Denied Entry to Education Officials, City Says,” NY Times, August 16, 2018.

[8] “Supreme Court Won’t Hear Case on Church Repairs Using Tax Money,” NY Times, March 4, 2019.

[9] “Public dollars should go to public schools that teach an evidence-based, secular curriculum,” Secular Coalition for America.

[10] “Texas education board approves curriculum that challenges evolution,” Austin American-Statesman, February 2, 2017.

[11] “Florida Bible Study Bill Is Part of National Christian Right Legislative Plan ‘Project Blitz,’” Miami New Times, March 8, 2019.

[12] “A Bill Banning Most Abortions Becomes Law In Ohio,” National Public Radio, April 11, 2019.

[13] “Sarah Huckabee Sanders Dismisses Ocasio-Cortez Climate Warning: We’ll Leave it to ‘Much, Much Higher Authority,’” Newsweek, January 23, 2019.


[15] “The plot against America: Inside the Christian right plan to ‘remodel’ the nation,” Salon, April 13, 2019.

[16] “Americans United Denounces Multiple Efforts By Congressional Leadership To Gut Johnson Amendment,” December 11, 2018.

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