Religious Minorities

Challenges And Opportunities: What Lies Ahead For Church-State Separation In 2023

  Rob Boston

Happy New Year! This is the time of year when a lot of folks like to look ahead and make some predictions. With that thought in mind, here are some thoughts about what might lie ahead for church-state separation in 2023:

Reproductive freedom will remain a hot issue

Americans are not happy that the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. In every state where the issue has been on the ballot since then, reproductive rights have won. Expect advocates of choice to keep pushing that strategy. Groups that support access to legal abortion, including Americans United, will also be active in court, arguing that abortion bans violate religious freedom and church-state separation. Abortion is a church-state issue. We’ll continue to make that clear in 2023.

Christian Nationalist ‘culture wars’ are likely to roil the U.S. Congress

Republicans are set to take control of the House of Representatives today. Although culture war issues didn’t do well for the party in the November midterm elections and several leading Christian Nationalist candidates lost, the GOP base still resonates to these issues, and many party leaders are aligned with Christian Nationalism. With members who hold far-right view taking leadership positions, these issues will inevitably arise, but since Democrats continue to hold the Senate, we’re hoping extreme measures can be blocked there.

The nationwide wave of book banning will intensify

Speaking of culture wars, the nation is experiencing a tsunami of book banning in public schools and libraries, and it shows no sign of abating. In Hollidaysburg, Pa., a teacher at a public junior high was subjected to a criminal investigation for merely having a copy of the book Gender Queer in her possession. (She was not teaching it, and the class did not read it.) The Washington Post reported about a nationwide furor over the novel Lawn Boy sparked by outraged parents who describe a passage in the book that appears nowhere in its pages. Americans United and other groups that support the freedom to read and learn will be there to meet the censors.

We’ll see more discrimination based on religion

The U.S. Supreme Court recently heard oral argument in a case that could lead to discrimination against LGBTQ people, atheists, non-Christians and others based on a twisted notion of “religious freedom.” Unfortunately, Christian Nationalist legal groups have found a sympathetic ear at the high court on this issue, so we’re likely to see more cases like this.

Americans United will keep up the fight

Polls show that the American people support church-state separation. They oppose Christian Nationalism and don’t back the Supreme Court’s attempts to dismantle the church-state wall. Americans United will sponsor the Summit for Religious Freedom April 22-24 in Washington, D.C., and virtually. Come to learn strategies to support church-state separation and defeat Christian Nationalism.

Of course, we can expect to see a lot of other issues unfold as the year progresses. 2023 will be a difficult but exciting year. If you’re not a card-carrying member of Americas United, now is the time to join!

Congress needs to hear from you!

Urge your legislators to co-sponsor the Do No Harm Act today.

The Do No Harm Act will help ensure that our laws are a shield to protect religious freedom and not used as a sword to harm others by undermining civil rights laws and denying access to health care.

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