Rachel K. Laser, Americans United’s new executive director, has hit the ground running. Her first week was a bit of a whirlwind – and it’s just the beginning.
Things started off with a bang Wednesday morning when a story about Rachel’s appointment appeared in The Washington Post. I’ve been a reader of The Post for a long time, and I know that there’s usually a burst of copy posted around 6 a.m. on the paper’s website. Yes, I was up early that morning refreshing my browser every few minutes until the story came up.
Later that morning, AU issued an announcement to its members and supporters and a press release that went to media outlets nationwide. Rachel was immediately inundated with messages from AU members, friends and well-wishers. It was hectic, but she somehow found time to write a blog post introducing herself.
Two reporters from Politico called asking if Rachel could do a podcast on issues related to religious freedom and health care. She did it, and you can listen to it here. (Her part starts at minute 31:30.) We’ve had expressions of interest from several other media outlets, and Rachel is already getting speaking requests.
As all of this was going on, the situation in Bossier Parish, La., continued to unfold. As you might recall, Americans United recently filed a lawsuit on behalf of several families there over inappropriate promotion of religion by staff in the public schools.
Some people in the area seemed to be confused over why we filed this suit. We’re not trying to suppress truly voluntary religious activity by students, but we do aim to put a stop to several activities sponsored by the school system that have the effect of compelling young people to take part in religious worship against their will.
Rachel thought it would be a good idea to remind people in northern Louisiana why it’s not a good idea to use public schools to promote religion. Her op-ed appeared in the Shreveport Times, and you can read it here.
Alas, not all of the news was good. Americans United’s foes used the news of Rachel’s appointment to attack us. Breitbart, a far-right site formerly associated with Stephen K. Bannon, an ex-adviser to President Donald Trump, ran an item about Rachel. I’m not going to link to it because I don’t want to drive traffic to that vile site, but the headline says it all: “Anti-Christian Group Declares War on Religious Freedom in Trump’s America.”
But remember, the type of foes you attract says a lot about you. Although the article is offensive, the fact that Breitbart sees Rachel as a threat is a good thing. Don’t read the comments!
To learn more about Rachel, visit this section of our website. These are exciting times for Americans United. There’s a lot going on, and we’re calling for all hands on deck. There are many ways for you to get involved.