July/August 2016 Church & State | Featured

Americans United staff members remain busy boosting separation of church and state in a variety of ways. Here’s some news about recent activities:

Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United, delivered a secular invocation before a meeting of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights in Washington, D.C., May 16. Lynn was in New York City May 23 where he appeared on John Fugelsang’s “Tell Me Everything” show on Sirius XM Radio.

On June 1, Lynn spoke to AU’s Columbia Chapter of Oregon and Southwest Washington. The event took place at the First Unitarian Church of Portland, and Lynn addressed the topic, “Separation Anxiety: Are We Winning the Fight for Real Religious Freedom?”

The following day, Lynn spoke to the Greater Seattle AU Chapter at the University of Washington.

Lynn also spoke at the 50th anniversary conference of the National Organization for Women (NOW) June 25 in Washington, D.C.

On June 5, AU Legislative Director Maggie Garrett spoke at “Pursuing Justice 2016,” a national conference sponsored by Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice. The event took place in Washington, D.C., with Garrett joining a panel discussion titled, “The New Chapter in the Culture Wars: Religious Freedom, Reproductive Rights, and LGBTQ Equality.”

Garrett also spoke June 20 at a D.C. conference sponsored by the Hindu-American Foundation.

Richard Katskee, AU’s legal director, served on a panel sponsored by the Washington, D.C., Bar Association June 2 examining the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent action in Zubik v. Burwell, a case challenging the contraceptive mandate of the Affordable Care Act. The event offered continuing legal-education credit to practicing attorneys.

AU Director of Communications Rob Boston took part in a panel discussion sponsored by the Massachu­setts Chapter of Americans United June 2 in Boston. Other members of the panel included Katherine Stewart, author of The Good News Club: The Christian Right’s Stealth Assault on America’s Children, and David Niose, legal director of the American Humanist Association, whose most recent book is Fighting Back the Right: Reclaiming America from the Attack on Reason. Boston also spoke to the Humanist Association of Greater Philadelphia June 26. Boston’s speech was titled “What Do You People Want?: A Positive Vision of Secularism.”

Several AU staff members, including Field Director Erin Taylor, Field Associate Erin Hagen, Assistant Director of Development Rebecca Da­vis-Nord, Law Clerk Sam Jackson and Legal Intern Will Moss took shifts staffing a table at the Reason Rally in Washington, D.C., June 4, where they distributed AU material and answered questions about the organization’s work. The event brought tens of thousands of atheists, agnostics and humanists together for a day-long rally at the Lincoln Memorial. The rally’s organizers hosted a conference the next day, during which Boston moderated a panel on legal issues that included participation by Natacha Lam, an AU legal fellow.

A week later, on June 12, AU staf­fers had a table at D.C.’s Capital Pride Festival. AU chapter volunteers also tabled at Pride events in Indianapolis, Phila­delphia and Nashville.

Staff members were also present at the NOW conference June 25.

Jeffrey Selman, president of AU’s Georgia Chapter, spoke to the Dela­ware Valley Americans United Chapter and the Ethical Humanist Society of Philadelphia on June 26. Selman discussed his book God Sent Me: A Textbook Case on Evolution.