Editor’s Note: Today “The Wall of Separation” concludes its series recounting the top 10 church-state stories from 2022 with a look to the future and AU’s plans for protecting church-state separation for generations to come.
Americans United celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2022. The Supreme Court’s attacks on church-state separation weren’t the gift we’d hoped for, but we’re determined to continue the fight. AU has been at this for three-quarters of a century and has no intention of backing down.
With that thought in mind, in 2022 AU unveiled or stepped up several new campaigns and projects:
The Summit for Religious Freedom: This event, which will take place April 22-24, 2023, in Washington, D.C., and online, will bring together activists, scholars, political leaders, clergy and others to make it clear that church-state separation protects a number of issues including LGBTQ+ rights, reproductive rights, racial justice, public education, the freedom of read and learn, and more. The SRF is designed to equip attendees with the tools they need to fight Christian nationalists and their ongoing campaign to force us to live by their narrow beliefs. (Register to attend here.)
AU Legal Academy: 2022 saw the launch of the Legal Academy, an exciting project that aims to train a new generation of lawyers to defend church-state separation, freedom and equalityin the years to come. Along with our allies in religious freedom and social justice communities, AU brings experts together to give these young minds an intensive crash course in church-state separation and impact litigation and provide arguments why religious freedom must always be a shield that protects, not a sword that lashes out.
Youth Organizing Fellowship: Every year, Americans United brings together a group of youth activists between the ages of 18-25 who want to learn more about church-state separation and how to advocate for it in their communities. The fellows are trained in gaining or sharpening skills in areas such as communication and public speaking as well as lobbying and coalition building. They learn to work with people of different faith traditions and backgrounds. They will provide the next generation of leadership to carry forth the battle for church-state separation. (Applications for the 2024 cohort will be accepted in the spring, so if you know young people who might be interested, send them our way.)
Next Generation Fund: To support these initiatives, Americans United has created a Next Generation Fund that seeks to raise $750,000 in honor of our 75th anniversary. Thanks to a generous matching gift from AU supporter Barbara Meislin, “the Purple Lady,” gifts given by the end of the year will be matched up to $250,000.
As a reader of this blog, you know that church-state separation is vital to maintaining religious freedom. If you’re not a member of Americans United, please consider joining today. If you’re already a member, please share the work of AU with your friends and neighbors who might want to join us.
Photo: Youth activists meet with AU’s Alicia Johnson (l) at the organization’s office in Washington, D.C.