June 2019 Church & State Magazine | AU In Action

Americans United staff and chapter activists have kept busy promoting church-state separation around the country and even around the world!

Here’s a roundup of recent activities:

Rachel Laser, AU president and CEO, was in London May 18 to deliver a keynote address to the National Secular Society’s “Secularism 2019: Reclaiming Religious Freedom” conference. Laser was invited by the Society to discuss the state of church-state separation in America under the Trump administration.

Rachel Laser with NSS CEO Stephen Evans

PHOTO: AU President and CEO Rachel Laser with National Secular Society CEO Stephen Evans.

Church & State Editor Rob Boston addressed the Washington Area Secular Humanists in Arlington, Va., May 4. On May 20, Boston traveled to Rochester, N.Y., to speak to the AU chapter there. In both places, Boston spoke about “Separation of Church and State: Where We’ve Been, Where We Are and Where We’d Like to Be.”

Rob Boston with Linda Stephens and Susan Galloway

PHOTO: AU Senior Adviser Rob Boston in Rochester, N.Y., with former AU plaintiffs Linda Stephens, left, and Susan Galloway.

Bill Mefford, AU’s faith organizer, met with students from Eastern Michigan University at AU’s offices May 7.

 Maggie Garrett, AU vice president for public policy, addressed the Women of Reform Judaism’s Social Justice Conference May 19 in Washington, D.C.

Maggie Garrett at Women of Reform Judaism conference

PHOTO: AU VP for Public Policy Maggie Garrett, center, with Blair Marks, president of Women of Reform Judaism, left, and Jennifer Hawks, associate general counsel at the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty.

AU’s Orange-Durham Chapter in North Carolina sponsored an event April 30 titled “Medical Aid In Dying: A Separation Of Church And State Perspective.” The speaker was Ed Tir­yakian, founder of the group Dying Right NC.

The St. Louis Chapter of Americans United met April 25 for its Annual Meeting. A panel discussion on legislation affecting church-state separation was held. Speakers included state Rep. Deb Lavender (D-Dist. 090); Karen Aroesty, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League Heartland; and James Croft, outreach director of the Ethical Society of St. Louis. Chapter President Cynthia Holmes served as moderator.

AU’s San Antonio Chapter hosted Nick Little, legal counsel for the Center for Inquiry, April 24. Little’s talk was titled “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Secular Litigation in the Post-Kennedy World.”

The Nashville Chapter of Americans United held a meeting May 9 to discuss outreach activities and community-based activism.

Dinesh H. Singhal, a board member with AU’s Houston Chapter, appeared on KPTF Radio’s “Queer Voices” April 29 to discuss efforts by conservative lawmakers in Texas to allow discrimination against members of the LGBTQ community under the guise of religious freedom.

AU’s Orange County, Calif., Chap­ter hosted a talk by Rhett Kuseski on May 18. Kuseski spoke on “From Atheism to Seminary and Back Again,” and focused on the psychology behind conversion and de-conversion and how this relates to church-state separation.

Lastly, Americans United welcomed two new staff members recently: Brittany Pfister will be senior director of major gifts and Allison Kimble has assumed the position of digital communications manager.

Allison Kimble and Brittany Pfister

PHOTO: AU Digital Communications Manager Allison Kimble, left, and Senior Director of Major Gifts Brittany Pfister.