Editor’s Note: For the next two weeks, “The Wall of Separation” blog will be recounting the top 10 church-state stories from 2023. We begin the series today with a look at how Americans United has been expanding its reach.
Everyone benefits from separation of church and state – even if they don’t realize it.
Church-state separation protects your right to believe, or not, as you see fit. It allows you to worship with like-minded believers, to practice an individualized faith, to be spiritual but not religious or to reject all religions. Church-state separation also is critical to reproductive freedom, LGBTQ+ equality, public education, racial justice, and so many other rights and freedoms.
That diversity is special. And it’s what drove efforts by Americans United in 2023 to bring more Americans than ever into the battle to preserve separation of church and state.
This enhanced effort took many forms:
Using social media to reach new audiences: Americans United is active on all major social media platforms, including TikTok, X (formerly Twitter), Instagram and Facebook. Several of our TikTok videos have gone viral, with the most popular one reaching more than a quarter of a million viewers.
Celebrity engagement: Actors Bradley Whitford and Amy Landecker came to Washington, D.C., to spread AU’s message on Capitol Hill during the lobby day that took place during the Summit for Religious Freedom. They later joined AU CEO and President Rachel Laser for a fireside chat video. In addition, several celebrities endorsed AU’s lawsuit challenging abortion restrictions in Missouri in this video.
Raising up a new generation of leaders: Every year, Americans United’s Youth Organizing Fellowship (YOF) brings a cohort of young people into our work through special programs and training. Marking its 4th year, the YOF program now has an alumni network. In addition, AU expanded its annual Student Contest this year to include both high school and college students, and to accept both written essays and videos; it drew hundreds of submissions. Our legal academy is training a new generation of attorneys, and every year AU honors a student activist with its David Norr Youth Activist Award (for the first time, we’re now accepting nominations for Norr Award recipients from the public).
Leaving no one behind: Everyone deserves separation of church and state – especially in those areas where political leaders may be hostile to the concept. Americans United makes sure to take its message to the red states, and, as Laser noted in a recent column, people there understand the threat of Christian Nationalism and are eager for AU’s presence.
Expand the circle! If you’re not a member of Americans United, join here.
Photo: Members of the 2023-24 Youth Organizing Fellowship meet in Washington, D.C.