May 2019 Church & State Magazine - May 2019

Americans United In Action! Staff Members And Activists Spread The Word About Church-State Separation

  Rob Boston

Members of the Americans United staff and activists have been busy lately attending events, giving speeches and undertaking other activities to promote AU’s work.

Here’s a round-up of recent activities:

Americans United President and CEO Rachel Laser addressed Faith in Public Life’s Equality Academy March 27. The group, which offers support for faith leaders who support LGBTQ equality, met in Washington, D.C. Laser briefed attendees on the work of Americans United.

On March 28, Laser, along with AU Vice President for State Outreach and Engagement Sarah Gillooly and Public Policy Advocate Samantha Sokol, met with a group of students from Stanford University in Stanford, Calif., at the offices of Americans United. On April 24, Laser met with students from Washington College in Chestertown, Md., at AU’s offices.

Stanford Students at AU

(PHOTO: Stanford University students with AU staffers Samantha Sokol, far left, and Sarah Gillooly, third from left.)

On April 26, Laser was in Farmington Hills, Mich., where she addressed a conference sponsored by the Society for Humanistic Judaism (SHJ). She also accepted the inaugural Constitutional Defender Award from the SHJ’s social justice initiative, Jews for a Secular Democracy.

AU Faith Outreach Coordinator Bill Mefford was in North Carolina March 28 to help lead a workshop on Project Blitz with the North Carolina Council of Churches.

Rob Boston, AU senior adviser and editor of Church & State, met with students from American University in Washington, D.C., at AU’s offices April 9. Boston offered a briefing on church-state history and the work of Americans United. 

Sokol took part on a panel about Project Blitz at the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Conference at Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass., April 12-14. Joining her on the panel were Fred Clarkson and Heron Greenesmith from Political Research Associates. The conference, “From Abortion Rights to Social Justice: Building the Movement for Reproductive Freedom,” drew a crowd of students and community activists.

AU’s Board of Trustees gathered at Americans United’s offices in Washington, D.C., April 4-5 for a meeting during which members of the board and Laser worked on the strategic direction AU should take to sustain the organization and grow support for church-state separation into the future.

On the evening of April 4, Americans United hosted a reception for board members, staff members, coalition allies and local supporters to mark the organization’s work on numerous issues in defense of separation of church and state. The event was also a slightly belated celebration to honor Laser’s first year as president and CEO and thank AU’s allies for their support. (Laser took over from the Rev. Barry W. Lynn in February 2018.) It took place at the offices of Mayer Brown, a prominent D.C. law firm.

Rachel Laser toasting

(PHOTO: AU President and CEO Rachel Laser toasts AU supporters during the April reception.)

AU’s Orange County, Calif., Chapter screened the film “Trapped” during an April 20 meeting. The documentary, which premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival where it won the Special Jury Award for Social Impact Filmmaking, examines the struggle many reproductive health clinics are undergoing to remain open.

Members of the Delaware Valley Chapter of Americans United in the Philadelphia and New Jersey area met April 16 for a briefing on current church-state issues and to share information and ideas.

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