If we heeded warnings to never discuss “religion and politics,” we columnists and politicians would be out of work.

Take the latest political hot-button topic in which the nation is religiously involved – religion.

The Census Bureau does not report on the number of religions in the U.S. However, Procon.org estimates that there are 310 religions and denominations while the Harvard Institution for Religious Research notes there are roughly 350,000 religious congregations with an estimated 12,000 non-Christian religious congregations.

FYI, the five most religious states, according to Mediawiki, are Mississippi, Utah, Alabama, Louisiana and Arkansas. The least religious: Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts and Alaska.

So what do these states – Arizona, Kansas, Oregon, Idaho, South Dakota, Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia, Ohio, Wyoming and Missouri – have in common? All are controlled by a Republican House and Senate and/or the governor’s office. They also share a similar fight for “religious rights” for businesses against gay and lesbian citizens.

In Missouri, Sen. Wayne Wallingford, R-Cape Girardeau, introduced Senate Bill 916 which adds on more civic protection to the 2003 Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Opponents note that the 2003 act does not protect gender or sexual orientation.

Wallingford adds, “I just want to make sure that people will still be able to defend their religious liberties as the Constitution provides. It’s under attack across the nation.”

Wallingford doesn’t cite one recorded religious attack just as Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona could not advance any First Amendment religious violations in her state while affixing her veto to an similar bill, which would have discriminated against gay and lesbian citizens in her state.

The Kansas House of Representatives also made national news by proposing a similar anti-gay business bill. It never got to the governor’s desk, for it died in the Senate. Georgia’s bill also faded away.

Meanwhile, the Missouri American Civil liberties Union has sued to force the state to recognize same-sex marriages by Missourians who were married in other states. They applaud a federal judge who just struck down a Texas law forbidding gay and lesbian marriages.

Many self-proclaimed defenders of the nation’s morals say that they don’t consider their cause immoral or discriminatory for it’s the Christian thing to do.

I give you President John Adams’ toast: Independence forever.

Jerry Plantz lives in Lee’s Summit. His website is at www.Jerryplantz.com. Reach him at jerryplantz@msn.com.