April 2018 Church & State Magazine | AU In Action

Members of the Americans Un­i­ted staff and chapter acti­vists have kept busy promoting the separation of church and state. Here’s some news about recent activities:             

Rachel K. Laser, Americans Uni­ted’s new executive director, hit the ground running with a whirlwind of activity. On Feb. 21, Laser was featured in a Washington Post article announcing her appointment to lead Americans United.

The article, which was reprinted in several other newspapers, referred to Americans United as “one of the country’s most prominent advocacy groups pushing to protect the boundaries between religion and government” and quoted Laser several times.

“We need to awaken that awareness, we need to awaken the notion that religious liberty undergirds the separation of church and state,” Laser told Michelle Boorstein, a Post religion reporter. “The two can not only coexist but are tied at the waist.”

The following day, Laser appeared on a podcast sponsored by Politico, discussing how distorted definitions of “religious freedom” are affecting Americans’ health care. She also appeared on “The Attitude with Arne Arneson” on WNHN radio in Concord, N.H., and was profiled by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. She was also interviewed for a profile in Congressional Quarterly.

Laser’s appointment was also picked up by The Christian Post and several blogs, including Hemant Mehta’s “Friendly Atheist” and Ed Brayton’s “Dispatches from the Culture Wars.”

Laser also penned an op-ed that appeared in the Shreveport Times in Louisiana. Americans United has filed a lawsuit to stop the unconstitutional promotion of religion in Bossier Parish public schools, and in the column, Laser explained why the case was filed.

“To honor our core American values and respect the deeply personal and sacred nature of our religious beliefs, we must ensure that faith is taught in our houses of worship and by parents – not in our public schools,” Laser wrote. “It’s the right thing to do to protect our students and religious freedom, and it’s what our Constitution requires.”

In other news:

 

AU Senior Litigation Counsel Eric Rothschild did several media interviews recently about the Bossier Par­ish school prayer case. Among them were interviews with KSLA-TV, Shreve­port’s CBS affiliate, KEEL-AM radio and the Shreveport Times.

Legislative Director Maggie Garrett took part in a March 20 teleconference panel discussion titled, “School Vouchers: Is this the Next Big Civil Rights Issue?” The event was sponsored by the American Bar Association Section of Litigation Children’s Rights Litigation Committee and co-sponsored by the ABA Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice Education Committee.

The AU staff participated in Public Schools Week March 12-16. Special blog posts highlighting Americans United’s historic ties to public education appeared on AU’s “Wall of Separation” blog, and a series of graphics were created for social media.

On March 16, Laser and other AU staff members took part in a Facebook Live event on the popular social media site. They discussed AU’s longstanding support for public education and explained how the organization is working to defend it.  

Eric Lane, head of Americans United’s National Leadership Council and a chapter activist in San Antonio, published an op-ed in the San Antonio Express-News Feb. 26.

“This nation was founded on laws that protect the right to believe – or not – as we see fit so that each one of us could follow the dictates of our conscience,” Lane wrote. “Nowhere in the Constitution does it say that this nation was founded as a Christian nation or its laws should be based on Christianity.”

AU’s Orange County Chapter in California held an event featuring Dannie Ceseña March 17. Ceseña, transitions services coordinator of the LGBT Center of Orange County, delivered a talk titled, “Transgender Rights and the Law.” 

The Greater Naples Chapter in Florida held a workshop March 21 on efforts to remove the “no-aid” clause from the state constitution.