March 2024 Church & State Magazine - March 2024

Join us at the Summit! A national gathering next month will equip attendees with the tools they need to fight Christian Nationalism

  Rob Boston

Excitement is building for the second annual Summit for Religious Freedom (SRF), which will take place in Washington, D.C., and virtually April 13-16. There’s plenty of time to sign up and get info at!

The Summit for Religious Freedom or SRF (pronounced “surf”) is the hub for our collective fight for religious freedom, church-state separation and the issues that depend on them, like LGBTQ+ rights, reproductive rights, protecting public schools, strengthening our democracy and more. It’s a big tent welcoming everyone from longtime advocates to those just discovering the issue and its critical role in protecting our democracy, our equality and our rights. We’re collaborating to defeat the biggest threats to these values, including Christian Nationalists and other extremists, along with their political allies, who have launched a coordinated campaign to force us all to live by their narrow religious beliefs.

What sort of issues can you expect to hear discussed at SRF? Check out our full program at, but here are just a few:

  • Talks on how to effectively oppose Christian Nationalism
  • Updates on the battle to preserve reproductive rights
  • Strategies for fighting back against those who seek to take away LGBTQ+ rights
  • Discussions of racial equality and justice
  • Tips for opposing book bans and library censorship
  • Workshops on how best to unite faith communities and the non-religious
  • Methods to end discrimination in the name of religion
  • Information on how to protect public schools by opposing voucher schemes

SRF will also feature a stellar line-up of three amazing keynote speakers:

Anthea Butler is the Geraldine R. Segal Professor in American Social Thought and chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. She is a historian of African-American and American religion and is an expert on the threat of Christian Nationalism.

Butler is also a commentator for MSNBC, and in a recent column, warned about politicians who claim to be running with God’s sanction.

“When you hear candidates say they have been chosen by God, beware,” Butler wrote. “That hubris is hiding an authoritarian political worldview based on their limited view of God instead of the belief that the U.S. Constitution, or other guiding documents, should be their guide.”

Butler’s most recent book is White Evangelical Racism: The Politics of Morality in America. Learn more about her at

U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) represents Maryland’s 8th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives and is currently ranking member on the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability.

Raskin, a former professor of constitutional law, served on the Select Committee to Investigate the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol and served three terms on the House Judiciary, Oversight and Administration Committees.

In December 2022, Raskin provided a sharp reminder of the need for separation of church and state in a tweet: “As my GOP colleagues try to block the Respect for Marriage Act, I remind them what we taught anti-gay politicians a decade ago: you placed your hand on the Bible and swore to uphold the Constitution. You didn’t place your hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible.”

He is the author of several books, most notably Overruling Democracy: The Supreme Court versus the American People and Unthinkable: Trauma, Truth and the Trials of American Democracy. His House website is

Erin Reed is a transgender journalist based in Washington, D.C. She tracks LGBTQ+ legislation around the United States for her subscription newsletter, Her work has been cited by the Associated Press, Reuters, The New York Times, The Washington Post and many more major media outlets.

In late January, Reed exposed a plot by state legislators in Michigan and Ohio who, during an event on X (formerly Twitter), openly talked about their plans to deny gender-affirming care to all Americans, not just minors. The story was picked up by several major news outlets.

You can follow her on X/Twitter and TikTok @ErinInTheMorn.

At SRF, you’ll be able to take part in panels and breakout sessions for discussions that cut to the heart of the most prominent church-state issues of the day, such as LGBTQ+ rights, reproductive freedom, censorship and threats to public education. The events will be interactive, with opportunities for attendees to ask questions and give feedback. (Although SRF officially opens on April 13, most of the speeches and sessions will occur April 14-15. April 16 will be reserved for Hill Day, an opportunity for attendees, if they choose, to go Capitol Hill and meet with federal lawmakers and/or their staff members.)

SRF is guided by “the three C’s.” The event is collaborative, and allied organizations have been asked to contribute program ideas and invite their supporters. This means you’ll hear a diversity of voices at SRF and will have the opportunity to make new contacts in religious and secular communities.

The event is also concurrent. You can attend SRF in person or online. The idea is to be as inclusive as possible.

Finally, SRF is continuous. When you leave Washington or turn off your computer after attending SRF, the event will be over but only for a while. As an attendee, you’ll be invited to take part in SRF365, a series of virtual webinars that will focus on current developments and keep the activism going.

“I’m proud that Americans United is the convener of SRF. But we know this fight cannot be won by any single organization,” said Brian Silva, AU’s vice president for outreach and engagement. “That’s why I was thrilled that so many organizations cosponsored, presented and contributed to this event last year and are on track to do so even more in 2024. AU is connecting the dots for our partners to see that almost nothing we care about can be advanced or protected without church-state separation and SRF is the place for all of us to come together to do that.”

Last year’s SRF was a huge success. We had a sold-out crowd of more than 250 people on hand in Washington, with hundreds more joining online. After the event, many attendees contacted Americans United to say how much they had learned and what SRF meant to them. (To read more about the 2023 SRF, see “Scaling the Summit,” May 2023 Church & State.)

We expect an even more exciting event this year!

To sign up for SRF, visit At the website, you can get more information about the conference hotel, logistics and other details.

Congress needs to hear from you!

Urge your legislators to co-sponsor the Do No Harm Act today.

The Do No Harm Act will help ensure that our laws are a shield to protect religious freedom and not used as a sword to harm others by undermining civil rights laws and denying access to health care.

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