January 2018 Church & State | AU In Action

Staff members and chapter activists have kept busy recently educating people about the importance of church-state separation.

Here’s a roundup of recent activities:

Maggie Garrett, Legislative Director, took part in a Dec. 6 panel discussion in Philadelphia titled “Separation Anxiety: Defending the Church-State Wall in the Age of Trump.” The event at the Free Library of Philadelphia also featured attorney Pedro L. Irigon­e­garay; Mikey Weinstein, found­­er and president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, and the Rev. Wel­ton Gad­dy, former president of the Interfaith Alliance. Nina Burleigh, national politics correspondent for News­week, moder­ated the discussion, which was followed by a question-and-answer session.

On Nov. 29, Garrett took part in a conference call hosted by the National Council of Jewish Women. She spoke about how federal courts affect religious freedom.

Director of Communications Rob Boston was in Naples, Fla., Dec. 6 for an event sponsored by AU’s Naples Chapter. Boston’s talk, “Defending the Separation of Church and State in Difficult Times,” took place at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Naples. The speech received coverage in the Naples Daily News.

Bill Mefford, AU’s faith outreach specialist, recently published a book titled The Fig Tree Revolution: Unleashing Local Churches into the Mission of Justice. The tome is aimed at houses of worship that want to be more active in social justice issues. It’s available on Amazon.

Recently retired Americans United Executive Director Barry W. Lynn was profiled by The Washington Post recently. A Q&A with Lynn written by religion writer Michelle Boorstein ran online Nov. 27 and appeared in the newspaper’s print edition Dec. 2.

Americans United’s Legislative Department welcomed a new staff member recently. Nikolas Nartowicz is serving as state legislative counsel. Nartowicz earned a bachelor’s degree in government from Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., and holds a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C. Most recently, he served as policy counsel for the Office of Federal and Regional Affairs in the administration of Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser. Nartowicz will monitor threats to church-state separation in state legislatures and help formulate AU’s response.

AU’s Triad Chapter in North Carolina sponsored an event Nov. 28 featuring the Rev. Charles F. Wilson, board chair of the chapter. Wilson addressed the topic, “Trump and the Reli­gious Right: How to Survive President Trump’s Disregard for the U.S. Constitution and the First Amendment.” The event took place at the Polo Community Center in Winston-Salem.

Eric Lane, president of AU’s San Antonio Chapter, was recently named chair of AU’s National Leadership Council (NLC). The NLC is a group of chapter leaders and activists who help strengthen Americans United at the grass-roots level. Lane succeeds Janice Rael, president of the Dela­ware Valley Chapter, which focuses on the Philadelphia area and parts of New Jersey.

 


Correction: An item in “AU In Action” in the November issue gave an inaccurate portrayal of former Executive Director Barry Lynn’s Oct. 1 speech in St. Louis. The event was sponsored by the St. Louis Chapter of Americans United and was co-hosted by the National Council of Jewish Women and the Anti-Defamation League.