March 2019 Church & State Magazine - March 2019

Americans United In Action! Staffers And Chapters Promote Church-State Separation

  Rob Boston

Americans United staff members and activists have kept busy lately spreading the word about the importance of church-state separation.

Here are some highlights:

AU President and CEO Rachel Laser was in San Francisco on Feb. 4 for a forum titled “Church-State Separation And Its Impact On Women’s Reproductive Rights.” The event, moderated by Monika Bauerlein, CEO of Mother Jones magazine, also featured Stacy Cross, president & CEO of Planned Parenthood Mar Monte, the largest Planned Parenthood affiliate in the nation. (Click here to see a video of the event.)

Laser also did a number of high-profile media interviews recently, including USA Today, The Guardian (a British newspaper that is read worldwide), The Daily Beast and Salon. She also did a podcast for the National Secular Society, a British group that promotes separation of religion from government. To listen, click here.

During a recent visit to Georgia, Maggie Garrett, AU’s vice president of public policy, did an interview with WABE radio’s “Closer Look with Rose Scott,” discussing recent attempts to redefine religious freedom as a license to discriminate. The station is an NPR affiliate. Click here to listen.

Garrett was also on NPR’s “On Point” on Jan. 17, talking about the Trump administration’s decision to allow a South Carolina foster-care agency to discriminate on the basis of religion. Click here to listen.

Garrett was in Detroit in late January for “Creating Change,” a national conference on LGBTQ issues. She participated in a panel titled “LGBTQ Folks & Religious Minorities: Natural Allies for Religious Freedom.” She also appeared on a panel in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 23 to discuss the threat vouchers pose to public education.

Rob Boston, senior adviser at Am­ericans United and editor of Church & State, traveled to the Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina on Jan. 16 for two events with AU’s Orange-Dur­ham Chapter. On Jan. 26, Boston addressed the Deerfield Progressive Forum in Deerfield Beach, Fla., on the topic “The Intrusion of Religion into Politics.”

On Feb. 9, Boston addressed a gathering of the Secular Coalition for America in Alexandria, Va.

AU Legal Director Richard B. Kats­kee did a podcast with the National Constitution Center on Jan. 30. The podcast, “We The People,” is hosted by Jeffrey Rosen. To listen to it, click here.

AU’s Triad Chapter in Winston-Salem, N.C., hosted Professor Lucas Johnston, from the Wake Forest University Department of Religious Studies, on Jan. 22. Johnson addressed the topic “The Role of the Religious Right in Climate Change Denial.”

On Jan. 10, AU’s Central Savannah River Area Chapter in Georgia screened the film “Banned in Oklahoma.” The documentary examined how citizens and librarians fought back against a censorship campaign in Oklahoma in 1997. The event took place at the Columbia County Library in Evans, Ga.

The Orange County, Calif., Chapter of Americans United screened the documentary “Coming Out Under Fire: The History of Gay Men & Women in WW II” in Irvine on Jan. 19. On Feb. 16, the chapter heard a talk by Eddie Tabash, a member of AU’s Board of Trustees and chair of its Legal Committee, who discussed the Religious Right’s impact on the Supreme Court.

Lastly, Americans United welcomed two new members of its staff recently. On Feb. 19. Sarah M. Gil­looly assumed the position of vice president of state outreach and engagement, the new name for AU’s former Field Department. Gillooly was most recently director of political strategy and advocacy for the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina and prior to that worked as strategic manager for health finance for Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Learn more about Sarah here.

Kenneth D. Upton Jr. has joined Americans United’s Legal Department as senior litigation counsel. Prior to coming to Americans United, Upton was senior counsel at the Dallas office of Lamb­da Legal, a national LGBTQ rights organization. Learn more about Ken here.

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