May 2018 Church & State Magazine | AU In Action

It’s been another busy few weeks for members of the Americans United staff and chapter activists as they took part in activities to educate the public about the importance of church-state separation.

Here’s some information about what’s been going on lately:

Americans United Executive Director Rachel Laser hosted a webinar with members of AU’s National Leadership Council, Faith Leaders United and the Youth Advisory Council on April 3. Laser took the opportunity to introduce herself to members of these bodies and solicit their ideas and input.

Rob Boston, AU’s communications director, traveled to Montpelier, Vt., March 29, where he addressed the Vermont Chapter of the League of Women Voters. Boston gave a speech entitled “Religious Freedom: What It Is And What It Is Not.”

In early April, Boston was in Ashland, Ore., where he addressed two events sponsored by the Jefferson Center. Boston gave a talk on April 8 entitled “The United States Is Not A Christian Nation – And I Can Prove It!” The next day, he addressed the topic “Defending Our Values: Politics And The Separation Of Church And State.” He also spoke on a program aired on the local NPR affiliate.

Boston also addressed a gathering of teachers in Arlington, Va., on April 2 as part of a forum sponsored by the Close-Up Foundation.

AU Legal Director Richard B. Katskee took part in a symposium at American University in Washington, D.C., March 30. The event, entitled “Church and State: A Symposium on Religion and Individual Rights,” was sponsored by the Journal of Gender, Social Policy and the Law. Katskee moderated a panel entitled “God in the Classroom.”

Nik Nartowicz, state legislative counsel for AU, traveled to Louisville, Ky., March 29 for an event entitled “The Separation of Church and State in Our Public Schools.” Sponsored by AU’s Louisville Chapter, it featured a panel discussion at the University of Louisville.

AU Legislative Director Maggie Garrett took part in a panel discussion entitled “Civil Rights Law: Interpretation and Application of Religious Exemptions” during a meeting of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs in New York City April 23.

Elise Helgesen Aguilar, AU’s federal legislative counsel, took part on a panel discussion about vouchers during the Disability Policy Seminar April 23 in Washington, D.C.

Former Americans United Executive Director Barry W. Lynn was honored by American Atheists at its annual conference in Oklahoma City March 31. He received the organization’s First Amendment Defense Award. The Secular Coalition for America also honored Lynn during an April 24 banquet in Washington, D.C., bestowing on him a Lifetime Achievement Award in recog- ­nition of his years of defending religious freedom and church-state separation.

Americans United’s Atlantic Coast Chapter in Palm Coast, Fla., held an event March 27 entitled “Public Money for Public Schools: How the State of Florida Siphons Tax Dollars From Public Schools to Fund CHOICE Options Owned by Private Corporations and Religious Entities.”  The feature event was a speech by Colleen Conklin, assistant professor and director of the Gaetz Aerospace Institute at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

The Triad Chapter of Americans United in Winston-Salem, N.C., held a panel discussion March 27 entitled “We The People: African-Americans and the U.S. Constitution.” Panelists included Luellen Curry Eversley of the Wake Forest University (WFU) School of Law; Jasper Brown, an attorney and retired labor specialist; Hazel Mack, an attorney and director of outreach at WFU; and Anthony Parent, professor of history at WFU.

AU’s Rochester Chapter in New York hosted Donald Rehkopf Jr., legal counsel for the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, on April 23. Rehkopf discussed “Defending Separation of Church and State in the Military.”

Americans United’s newest chapter is in Montana, led by Bill McRae, a retired university professor who lives in Billings. Montana residents who want to get involved should contact AU’s Field Department at field@au.org.