July-August 2020 Church & State Magazine | Featured

he coronavirus pandemic has led to Americans United staff members working from home, but that hasn’t stopped them from giving speeches and taking part in virtual events.

Using Zoom and other forms of computer-based technology, members of the AU staff continue getting the word out about separation of religion and government

Here is some information about recent events:

Maggie Garrett, AU’s vice president for public policy, took part in an April 7 webinar titled “You Mean I Can’t What?: Religious Freedom in Difficult Times” sponsored by the Religious Freedom Center.

The event can be viewed at the Freedom Forum’s YouTube channel. To find the channel, go to you­tube.com and search for “Freedom Forum.”

On May 31, Garrett and Dr. Sabrina E. Dent, AU’s senior faith adviser, spoke at a national conference titled “Faith, Reason and the Law During COVID-19” sponsored by Virginia Union University’s Samuel Dewitt Proctor School of Theology in Richmond, Va.

AU Senior Adviser and Church & State Editor Rob Boston has done a number of events via Zoom lately, offering a historical perspective on separation of religion and government and an overview of current issues. Boston addressed the Denver Chapter of the Freedom From Religion Foundation April 11, and on April 25 he took part in a seminar titled “Perspectives on Bringing Personal Morality to Government” sponsored by UUPLAN, a group of Unitarian Universalist activists in Pennsylvania.

On May 17, Boston addressed Sunday Assembly San Diego. On June 4, he offered a talk on church-state history to the Academy for Lifelong Learning in Denver. Boston addressed the Humanist Community of Silicon Valley June 7, and on June 10 he spoke to the Humanists of West Suburban Chicagoland. On June 14, Bos­ton addressed North Orlando Oasis, a Florida group that holds secular services for people who consider themselves non-religious. 

Dena Sher, assistant policy director, and Sarah Gillooly, vice president for outreach and engagement, addressed the Minnesota Reason Coalition May 7, delivering a talk on how the coronavirus pandemic had affected church-state issues.

Gillooly and Dent met with AU’s Orange County, Calif., Chapter June 1 to discuss issues related to faith outreach.

Nik Nartowicz, state policy counsel, and Dent addressed Congregation Beth Adam in Loveland, Ohio, May 12. Their talk focused on current church-state controversies.

AU Legal Director Richard B. Katskee participated in a June 12 panel discussion about several church-state cases pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. The event, which was aimed at communications professionals, was sponsored by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. Ken Upton, senior litigation counsel, addressed Americans United’s Houston Chapter June 8, providing an overview of current church-state issues.

AU President and CEO Rachel Laser did several events in conjunction with the Supreme Court’s oral argument in Trump v. Pennsylvania, a case dealing with access to birth control. For more information about these events, see “To The Barricades,” in the June 2020 issue of Church & State.

In addition, Americans United in June ran a web-based summer series featuring an array of speakers on church-state topics. Sessions were recorded and can be viewed on AU’s Facebook page.