Staff Members And Activists Support Separation Of Church-State

Americans United staff members and chapter activists have been busy supporting separation of church and state through a variety of activities. Here’s some information on recent events:            

Americans United Executive Director Barry W. Lynn made a round of final public appearances for the group last month. (Lynn, who has served as AU’s executive director since 1992, is retiring this month.)

On Oct. 1, Lynn was in St. Louis for an event sponsored by the St. Louis Chapter of Americans United. The speech, co-hosted by the National Council of Jewish Women and the Anti-Defamation League, took place at Washington University’s Hillman Hall. Prior to the speech, on Sept. 28, Lynn promoted it during an appearance on KWMU radio, an NPR affiliate, where he discussed current threats to church-state separation on the “St. Louis on the Air” show.

Lynn was in the Chicago area Oct. 6 to speak to Kol Hadash, a humanistic Jewish congregation in Deerfield.

Lynn traveled to Houston Oct. 16 to address AU’s chapter there. His talk, “Americans United: Past, Present and Future,” took place at the Emerson Unitarian Universalist Church.

Oct. 23 in Rochester, N.Y., Lynn offered a talk titled, “The Trump Administration Really Truly Hates Separation of Church and State” at Asbury First United Methodist Church. The event was sponsored by AU’s Roch­ester Chapter, one of the organization’s oldest affiliates.      

AU Legal Director Richard B. Katskee recently made appearances at two Ivy League universities. On Sept. 27, Katskee was at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., where he participated in a luncheon talk sponsored by the American Constitution Society focusing on the Masterpiece Cakeshop case that the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear. Katskee met with a group of students later that afternoon.

On Oct. 4, Katskee served as guest instructor at Yale University Law School’s Supreme Court Advocacy Clinic in New Haven, Conn.

Katskee is also serving as co-chair of the American Bar Association’s Section on Civil Rights and Social Justice, an ABA unit that focuses on civil rights. He spent Sept. 28 on orientation. (Richard Foltin of the American Jewish Committee is serving along with Katskee.)

Kelly Percival, an AU legal fellow, spoke at an Oct. 13 rally outside the White House to oppose the Trump administration’s regulations curtailing access to birth control. Americans United was a cosponsor of the rally.

On Sept. 23, Rob Boston, director of communications, took part in an international conference in Paris sponsored by the International Association of Free Thought. Speakers from several nations offered perspectives on the relationship between religion and government in their respective countries, and Boston spoke about the challenges to church-state separation under the Trump administration. During the event, French admirers of AU’s Lynn gave Boston a plaque to present to him. 

Boston also recently published a paper in Education Law & Policy Review, (Volume 4), a peer-reviewed academic journal published by the University of Georgia. His article is titled, “Religion in Public Schools: A View from the Trenches.” To read it, search for the journal online.

In Florida, the Rev. Dr. Harry Parrott, president of the Clay County Chapter of Americans United, delivered a speech titled, “The Assault on Church-State Separation in the Era of Donald Trump,” Oct. 7 at the Fleming Island Library in Orange Park.