April 2018 Church & State Magazine - April 2018

AU State Activists Gather For Webinar On Vouchers

  Liz Hayes

Americans United activists from around the country gathered virtually on Feb. 22 to share their strategies for fighting private school vouchers.

AU organized a webinar that brought together chapter members and AU staff including State Legislative Coun­sel Nik Nartowicz, Faith Organizer Bill Mefford, Interim Field Director David Morris and Youth Outreach Coordin­ator Erin Hagen.

The webinar’s focus was primarily on what activists are doing in the field to mobilize against voucher schemes. Building coalitions with like-minded indivi­duals and groups was cited repeatedly as an effective strategy.

Rick McClatchy shared how his chapter in San Antonio has joined a coalition in Austin to fight against vouchers. The San Antonio chapter’s focus has been educating Texans about private school vouchers in rural districts where people greatly value public schools as cultural centers.

Allison Mahaley, former president of the AU’s Orange-Durham Chapter in North Carolina, shared how she led her chapter to partner with the Democracy Council of North Carolina and the North Carolina Council of Churches on the issue of gerrymandering, which has resulted in the election of a disproportionate number of pro-voucher legislators. Mahaley and her coalition have worked to­gether on the “Schools Our Children Deserve” campaign.

In Tennessee, Diana Page and Charles Sumner said the Nashville chapter has worked with Pastors for Tennessee Children to counter voucher programs in their state.

“Coalition-building is the key to fighting vouchers,” Field Intern Nancy Garrett, who also sat in on the web­inar, wrote on AU’s Wall of Separation blog. “Vouchers threaten public education, and people from diverse backgrounds may have different reasons for opposing them. But in the end, we are all fighting for the same thing.”


Americans United & the National Women’s Law Center file suit to challenge Missouri’s abortion bans.

Abortion bans violate the separation of church and state. Americans United and the National Women’s Law Center—the leading experts in religious freedom and gender justice—have joined forces with thirteen clergy from six faith traditions to challenge Missouri’s abortion bans as unconstitutionally imposing one narrow religious doctrine on everyone.

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