Staff members of Americans United have been appearing at speaking events recently, and chapters are holding forums. With coronavirus restrictions being loosened in many parts of the country, several of these events have been in person.
AU President and CEO Rachel Laser spoke in person to students at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., April 13. Laser addressed issues related to LGBTQ rights and religious freedom.
Alex Bodaken, Steven Gey constitutional litigation fellow, spoke at the First Amendment Forum at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Venice, Fla., May 1. Other panelists include Lynette McCleland, pastor of Center of Hope Neighborhood Church, and the Rev. Michael Rau of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church.
Rob Boston, senior adviser and editor of Church & State, addressed the Fireside Forum at Leisure World, a retirement community in Silver Spring, Md., May 1. Boston talked about the Supreme Court’s erosion of the separation of church and state and its attempts to redefine religious freedom.
On May 3, Boston was in Pittsburgh, Pa., addressing the Humanist Group at the First Unitarian Church. Boston talk was titled, “Democracy vs. Theocracy: The Christian Nationalist Assault on Church-State Separation.”
Maggie Garrett, vice president for public policy, was the featured speaker for the American Humanist Association’s “Speaking of Humanism” virtual talk May 17. Garrett addressed the topic, “Vouchers are Never the Right Choice.”
Alicia Johnson, national organizer and student network manager, and Hannah Santos, an AU youth organizing fellow, attended the American Atheist convention in Atlanta April 15-17. While there, they presented a workshop titled, “Storytelling for Activists.”
AU Vice President of Strategic Communications Andrew L. Seidel wrote a piece for Religion Dispatches May 3 titled, “The End of Roe And School Prayer: America Is Not Ready To Be A Christian Nation.” The piece examines the ongoing Christian nationalist assault on church-state separation.
“The separation of church and state is one bedrock that protects and enshrines equality in a way that too many of us do not understand, but which will be painfully obvious when it’s gone,” Seidel wrote.” That separation is what ensures that we all have freedom without favor, and equality without exception. That separation is America. And if the justices finally tear down the constitutional wall that ensures that separation, they will be tearing down America and erecting on its ashes a Christian nation.”
The article can be read on page 11 of this issue.
On April 21, Seidel gave a lecture on Christian nationalism at Tulane University via Zoom. The following day, Seidel spoke to the Secular Student Alliance in San Antonio, also remotely.
AU Legal Director Richard B. Katskee gave a remote briefing on religion and employment issues to the Pennsylvania Bar Institute April 27.
AU’s Orange County Chapter held a virtual event April 16 titled, “Resisting the Religious Right’s Efforts to Privatize Public Schools,” with public education advocate Teri Sorey.
On May 21, the chapter held another virtual event, this one featuring Joseph Blankholm, assistant professor of religious studies at the University of California-Santa Barbara, who discussed his forthcoming book The Secular Paradox: On the Religiosity of the Not Religious, an ethnographic study of very secular people in the United States.
The Nashville Chapter of Americans United held a webinar May 12 titled, “The Right To Go To Hell” with Jim McCollum, whose parents brought the seminal church-state case McCollum v. Board of Education, which the Supreme Court decided in 1948.