Members of the Americans United staff and activists around the country have remained busy hosting events remotely.
Here is some information about recent activities:
• Dena Sher, AU’s vice president for public policy, took part in a Nov. 4 panel discussion that focused on Fulton v. The City of Philadelphia, a religious freedom case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. The event was titled “Our Day In Court Virtual Townhall.”
• Rachel Laser, president and CEO of Americans United, delivered a Nov. 5 talk titled “Separation of Church and State and Racial Justice: A Critical Nexus” to Northwest Neighbors Village, a community based nonprofit group based in Washington, D.C.
• Laser taught a class at Harvard (remotely) Nov. 10 for a course titled “The Politics of Religion in Liberal Democracies: American Exceptionalism, European Secularism.”
• On Nov. 18, Laser joined AU Legal Director Richard Katskee for an event titled “A Post-Election Look at Church-State Issues” hosted by AU’s St. Louis chapter. On Oct. 11, the chapter heard a talk titled “Church-State Pre-Election” by Dr. Kenneth Warren, a pollster and Political Science Professor at St. Louis University.
• Katskee was part of an Oct. 15 panel sponsored by the American Bar Association’s Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice. The panel examined the state of religious freedom at the Supreme Court. Other panelists were Stephanie Barclay, associate professor of law, Notre Dame Law School; Douglas Laycock, Alice McKean Young Regents Chair Emeritus, The University of Texas at Austin School of Law; and Ira C. Lupu, F. Elwood and Eleanor Davis professor emeritus of law, The George Washington University Law School. The panel was moderated by Kara H. Stein, vice president of policy and program for the American Constitution Society
• AU Senior Faith Adviser Sabrina Dent took part in an event at the Berkley Center at Georgetown University Oct. 21 titled “A Time to Heal, a Time to Build.” The event also featured syndicated columnist E.J. Dionne and church-state scholar Melissa Rogers and examined issues of religion’s intersection with law, public policy and social service partnerships.
• On Nov. 21, AU’s Orange County, Calif., Chapter hosted Hans Johnson, an activist who has worked in nonprofit advocacy at the local, state and national levels for 25 years. Johnson has worked on issues such LGBTQ rights, immigrant rights, racial justice, reproductive rights and environmental concerns. His talk was titled “What The Election Means for the LGBTQ Community.”
• Former AU Board of Trustees President Rabbi Merrill Shapiro delivered a speech titled “From Democracy to Theocracy: Following the Supreme Court’s Yellow Brick Road” Nov. 16 to Americans United’s Atlantic Coast Chapter and First Coast Freethought Society. During the talk. Shapiro discussed several recent Supreme Court decisions that have undermined church-state separation.
• AU Board member Eddie Tabash delivered a talk titled “SCOTUS vs. Separation of Church and State” Oct. 29. The event was sponsored by the Center for Inquiry, a humanist group based in Amherst, N.Y. Tabash’s talk focused on how the Supreme Court has defined – and damaged – the principle of church-state separation over the years.
• AU’s Rochester Chapter hosted Monica Miller, legal director and senior counsel at the American Humanist Association’s Legal Center and director of the Humanist Legal Society Oct. 26. Miller addressed the topic “Equal Rights and Fighting for Church-State Separation During the Pandemic.”
• The Nashville Chapter of Americans United heard a talk by Katherine Stewart, author of The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism, Oct. 15. Stewart focused on the political power of Religious Right groups.