July/August 2017 Church & State - July/August 2017

Members Of The AU Staff And Grassroots Activists Have Been Busy Promoting Separation Of Church And State

  AU admin

It has been another busy and productive period for Americans United staff members and activists. Here’s a roundup of recent activities:

Americans United Executive Director Barry W. Lynn addressed the Montgomery County, Md., Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union in Silver Spring May 24. Lynn briefed the group on current threats to church-state separation under the Trump administration.

On June 12, Lynn traveled to Boston, where he addressed the     Massachusetts AU Chapter’s annual meeting. Lynn’s speech was titled, “Americans United: Past, Present and Future.” He was accompanied by Erin Hagen, AU’s field associate for youth outreach, and Betsy Pursell, AU’s development director.

Legislative Director Maggie Garrett took part in a June 1 panel discussion about vouchers during a conference sponsored by the Education Writers Association in Washington, D.C. The event was carried live by C-SPAN2.

Rob Boston, director of communications, spoke during the American Humanist Association’s annual conference in Charleston, S.C., June 9-11. Boston addressed the group about the growing threats to secular government.

Carmen Green, AU Madison fellow, spoke on a panel about sectarian groups’ interference in sex education programs for teenagers May 21 in Lexington Park, Md.  The event, sponsored by Southern Maryland Area Secular Humanists, took place in a public library.

The Rev. Harry Parrott, president of AU’s Clay County (Fla.) Chapter and member of the National Leadership Council of AU, was the guest speaker at the June 1 meeting of the Palm Coast Democratic Club in Palm Coast, Fla. He lectured on “Church & State in the Age of Trump.”

On June 4, AU’s Upper Connecticut River Valley of New Hampshire and Vermont Chapter sponsored a talk in White River Junction, Vt., by Judy Brown, professor of law emerita at Northeastern University School of Law. Brown’s talk was titled, “Religious Freedom or Religious Tyranny?” The event was co-sponsored by the Upper Valley Humanists Association.

The Rochester (N.Y.) Chapter of Americans United on June 13 hosted a talk by Garrett Epps, a professor of constitutional law and writing at the University of Baltimore School Of Law and the Supreme Court correspondent for The Atlantic. Epps discussed how the “free exercise” of religion, guaranteed in the Constitution, is being twisted into a right to discriminate. Epps is the author of several books, among them To an Unknown God: Religious Freedom on Trial; Ten Right-Wing Myths About Our Constitution; and American Justice 2014: Nine Clashing Visions on the Supreme Court.

AU’s Orange County (Calif.) Chapter heard a presentation by Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Los Angeles, on June 17. Ayloush’s speech was titled, “Fighting Islamophobia in 2017.”

On June 11, several members of the Americans United staff hosted an informational booth at Capital Pride, an annual festival sponsored by the LGBTQ community in Washington, D.C. The AU staffers distributed material about the organization and talked with attendees about the work of Americans United. 

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