My name is Bill Mefford, and I am the new Faith Outreach Specialist for Americans United. I started in mid-March so I am still getting my feet wet, but I look forward to working with AU members as we mobilize faith communities to ensure that religious expression is maintained for all and not used to harm others.
Just to give you a little bit of information about me, I worked for the last ten years with the national office of the United Methodist Church as I built grassroots movements on immigration, mass incarceration, and gun violence issues. I am originally from Tennessee, but spent most of my life in Texas and Kentucky. I am a die-hard Cubs and Browns fan so I know how to suffer.
One way I hope to connect with you is through hosting a training in your community for faith leaders called Keeping Sacred Spaces Sacred: A Discussion on Pulpit Politicking. This training, part of Project Fair Play, will lead participants to a deeper understanding of the role faith communities can take in public engagement. We will define “politicking from the pulpit” and ensure that there is understanding of what constitutes a violation of the federal law that bars tax-exempt, non-profit groups from engaging in partisan electioneering. Beyond the dos and don’ts of federal law, we want to begin to imagine and envision what faithful, constructive civic engagement looks like for religious leaders. Our hope is that the faith leaders who attend will leave better equipped to lead discussions on these issues with their congregations and their clergy colleagues as well as be connected with others who share similar passions.