Religious and Racial Equality

Race and Religious Freedom: Why Church-State Separation Matters

The promise of religious freedom did not extend to Black and Indigenous people at America’s founding. The white Christian nationalists used religion to justify slavery, Jim Crow, and systemic racism. When laws align with one religious belief system, these laws breach the separation of church and state. Without the separation of church and state, such laws advance systemic racism and unduly harm people of color.

White Christian nationalists are an increasing threat to religious freedom and racial equity. Trump’s now-defunct travel ban targeted people from African nations and Muslim-majority countries. And Black churches remain targeted by white Christian nationalists who continue to use religion as an instrument of white supremacy.

What you need to know

Rooted in Segregation

In addition to outright discrimination practiced by some private schools, voucher programs have a sordid past rooted in racism. Vouchers were first created after Brown v. Board of Education to help fund segregation academies designed to keep Black and white students apart.

Suppressing the Vote in the Name of Religion

Prominent Christian nationalist groups have joined forces with a host of other far-right groups to push voter suppression laws in dozens of states. These laws are clearly designed to suppress minority votes and keep power in the hands of conservatives.

Exceptions Hurt

When religion is used to carve out exemptions from civil rights and other laws, it often disproportionately harms people of color. For example, LGBTQ people of color are more than twice as likely as their white counterparts to say they've been discriminated against when applying for jobs because they are LGBTQ.


Americans United & the National Women’s Law Center file suit to challenge Missouri’s abortion bans.

Abortion bans violate the separation of church and state. Americans United and the National Women’s Law Center—the leading experts in religious freedom and gender justice—have joined forces with thirteen clergy from six faith traditions to challenge Missouri’s abortion bans as unconstitutionally imposing one narrow religious doctrine on everyone.

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