Goodbyes are frequently difficult, but this one seems especially so. After half a decade at Americans United, I am leaving to become the media relations manager for Small Business Majority. I am very excited about my new position. But at the same time I am frightened for the future of the United States and sad that so much work will need to be done in the coming years to defend religious liberty from attacks by the far right.
As I watched the election results come in last week, I was in shock. I couldn’t believe it. Everyone had gotten it wrong, from research centers to media polls to political pundits. I thought to myself, how could America elect a man who ran a campaign anchored in so much hateful rhetoric?
So I waited for the election data. And when I saw this article from Pew Research Center, I can’t say I was surprised.
Political analysts have postulated a number of theories to explain the victory of Donald J. Trump in the presidential election: Hillary Clinton failed to energize the Democratic base, Trump tapped into a vein of hidden supporters, angry Rust Belt voters rose up, etc.
But some activists in the Religious Right have their own explanation: It was divine intervention.
The American Pastors Network (APN) issued an email press release Wednesday with the subject line, “No Other Explanation – God Worked a Miracle, as Christian Voters Spoke Loud and Clear.”
Yesterday, AU’s Communications Director Rob Boston wrote a blog post about the Religious Right-empowered issues the United States may face if the Trump administration implements some of its campaign’s talking points, and Legislative Director Maggie Garrett discussed the results of some ballot referenda.
People went to the polls yesterday to vote on more than just who would be the next president of the United States. Voters in two states and one city voted on ballot initiatives that would have impacted religious freedom.
American voters last night decided that Donald J. Trump, a real estate developer and reality TV star with no political experience, should be the next president of the United States.
What happens next? How will Americans United’s issues be affected?
Trump’s victory is extremely troubling because during the campaign, he was often dismissive of church-state separation and meaningful religious liberty. The issues that matter to Americans United seemed to mean little to Trump. He made several proposals that can charitably be described as reckless.
Consider the following:
Americans will go to the polls tomorrow and elect a new president. It’s an awesome responsibility, one of the defining characteristics of a free people.
Americans United is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization. Under federal law, we can’t endorse or oppose candidates (although we can take sides on ballot referenda). Unlike some Religious Right groups, we respect this law and follow it.
It’s not our job to tell you how to vote. It is our job to remind you why civic participation is important. And it’s our job to tell you – and all Americans – what we stand for.
By Kelly Percival
Thirty-eight states protect religious liberty in their constitutions by prohibiting taxpayer money from being used to fund religion or religious institutions. These “no-aid clauses” safeguard the integrity of houses of worship by ensuring that they do not become beholden to state interests. Next week, however, Oklahoma voters will face State Question 790, a dangerous ballot measure that, if passed, would repeal Oklahoma’s no-aid-to-religion clause and erode the separation of church and state there.