There’s no denying the past four years have been pretty miserable for defenders of separation of church and state. The good news is, they’re coming to a close soon. Joe Biden has defeated Donald Trump.
Many Americans are undoubtedly hopeful that come January, we’ll see a return to some things that have been in short supply at the White House the past few years – decency, dignity and deliberation, to name a few.
At Americans United, we’re hoping for a serious course correction on church-state separation. Trump’s record on religious freedom was nothing short of abysmal. Some of the lowlights include his cruel and capricious Muslim Ban; his constant attacks on our LGBTQ family members, friends and neighbors; his claims that he legalized partisan politicking in churches by repealing the Johnson Amendment (he didn’t, he just lied about it frequently); his assaults on reproductive freedom; and his lamentable appointments to the federal judiciary, among others.
We could dwell on this, but it’s not productive. A new day is coming. This is a time to look forward, not back.
Americans United is doing just that. Our “Agenda to Restore and Protect Religious Freedom” is a bold plan put together by the experts in AU’s Public Policy Department. To read 10 things Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris can do to shore up the church-state wall, see this document. And if you want a more detailed examination of the issues raised in the document, we’ve got that too.
The great thing about this agenda is that Biden can enact much of it on day one of his administration – and he’s already signaled that he will act swiftly on some of it, such as repealing the Muslim Ban.
Remember, Trump put many of his most obnoxious policies into place not by persuading Congress to pass legislation but through executive orders. Biden can nullify them with a pen stroke. Other Trump attacks on religious freedom were achieved by making regulatory changes in various federal agencies. Again, these can be rewritten or repealed without action by Congress.
The past four years have been trying for many Americans, and they’ve been especially hard for those of us who defend the church-state wall. We’ve endured regular attacks on that protective edifice led by a man who seemed fixated on currying favor with his Religious Right base, which egged on every one of those attacks and applauded policies that caused real harm and hurt real people.
Yes, these were four painful years – and the damage Trump did during them will not be fixed overnight. But we now have the opportunity to begin the hard work of repair, and with your help, Americans United will do it. Thank you for standing with us during this difficult time. Even in the darkest days, you didn’t lose hope, which means we at AU didn’t either.
Be of good cheer. Change is coming. The nation has turned a corner, and in 72 days we’ll turn another. Even as Trump rages during his final days in office, focus your eyes on what lies ahead. Join us in working toward a future that can’t help but be much brighter than the grim days we have passed through.
Photo: President-Elect Joe Biden addresses the nation. Screenshot via CNBC.