Sherwin T. Wine was an American rabbi and founder of the Humanistic Judaism movement. He had a passion for teaching, organizing, and activism. A fierce proponent for the separation of church and state, Wine wrote and spoke prolifically on the dangers of religious extremism.
Compiled below is a selection of his work on issues related to church-state separation, including Christian nationalism, reproductive rights, and LGBTQ+ equality. While some articles are decades old, his writing was prescient and remains relevant today.
We hope you enjoy learning from these thought-provoking pieces and encourage you to further explore his full body of work at SherwinWine.com.
On Christian Nationalism:
The Religious Right – October 1994
“…If the Religious Right were to achieve political power in America, they would put prayers, Bible readings and Bible theology into the public schools. They would use tax money to pay for private religious education. They would censor books and newspapers. They would outlaw abortion and homosexuality. They would pass laws to encourage women to bear children and to stay at home.”
Confronting the Religious Right – Autumn 1995
“…Perhaps what we need in the public schools is not to begin the day with prayer, but to hear and see ethical quotations from great Americans. With a quotation, at least you can have a discussion.”
Prayer in Public Schools – January 1995
“…Many Protestants who were in favor of prayer in the public schools supported a strict separation because they did not want any state money going to Catholic parochial schools. In the past three decades, however, anti-Communism, anti-secularism and anti-feminism have broken down the old hostility and united the Protestant Right with the Catholic Right. It is very important for all of us who embrace the political position of ‘strict separation’ to understand that we can no longer rely on the old religious hatreds to serve our purpose. Anxiety over moral change has broken down the barriers to cooperation.”
On Reproductive Rights:
Abortion – September 1989
“…Relying on the courts for ultimate protection is a misguided strategy in a democratic society. Judges, in the end, are agents of political agenda and political parties…. the defense of human rights must be won at the polls and not in the courts. Herein lies the challenge for all of us who believe in abortion freedom. We have to convince the masses of the justice of our cause—not the judges.”
On LGBTQ+ Equality:
Homosexuality: A Challenge to Traditional Morality – Spring 1997
“…By the 1990s, the Religious Right in America, stalemated on the abortion issue, began to push gay rights to the forefront as the symbol of moral decadence. Assisted by the AIDS scare, its leaders chose resistance to homosexual demands as the ‘flag’ of their moral crusade. Even Bill Clinton, who had been supported in his first presidential campaign by the gay community, retreated before the right-wing assault.”
The “Values” Debate: A Response to the Religious Right – Winter 2005
“…Most heterosexual people today in North America get married, not because they want children, but because they want partners. If loving partnerships are now the primary purpose of marriage, then homosexual marriage is no moral travesty. It is the natural consequence of a society that has changed.”