December 2011 Church & State | People & Events

An activist for religious liberty rights in the military and a high school student who stood up for church-state separation in Texas were honored by Americans United for Separation of Church and State during a special ceremony Nov. 7.

Americans United bestowed its first-ever “Person of the Year Award” on Michael L. “Mikey” Weinstein, founder and president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. Weinstein has worked doggedly to protect the church-state wall in the military and ensure that the rights of all service personnel are protected.

Corwyn Schultz, a recent graduate of Medina Valley High School in Castroville, Texas, serves as a plaintiff in an AU-sponsored lawsuit challenging school-sponsored prayers during graduation ceremonies. He received AU’s “Religious Liberty Award.”

Weinstein and Schultz accepted the awards at a ceremony that took place during a meeting of the Americans United Board of Trustees and National Advisory Council in Washington, D.C., at the Liaison Hotel on Capitol Hill.

Americans United Executive Director Barry W. Lynn said both Weinstein and Schultz have shown great courage in their stands in support of church-state separation.

“We’re lucky to have activists like Mikey Weinstein and Corwyn Schultz on our side,” said Lynn. “Our First Amendment freedoms are stronger today because people like Mikey and Corwyn have been willing to take a stand.”

Added Lynn, “We’re honoring Mikey and Corwyn for their energy, activism and enthusiasm. They saw problems and stepped up to make them right. We’re pleased to honor them for their achievements.”

Schultz told attendees at the luncheon that he was motivated to speak out because he’s always been an activist – noting that he protested against the war in Iraq at age 8.

“Medina Valley will never be the same,” Schultz said. “Americans United, I can’t thank you enough for all that you’ve done.”

Weinstein discussed the difficulties he has encountered forming the MRFF and the opposition his activities have sparked.

“It’s hard to speak truth to power,” Weinstein said. “Most people have trouble doing that. It is very hard to become the tarantula on the wedding cake by speaking out.”