May 2017 Church & State - May 2017

Staff Members And Activists Promote Separation

  AU admin

Members of Americans United staff and local activists have kept busy educating fellow citizens about the importance of separation of church and state. Recent activities include:

Americans United Executive Director Barry W. Lynn was profiled April 3 by Tony Mauro, a reporter for the National Law Journal. During the Q&A interview, Lynn discussed his upcoming retirement and reflected on his 25 years with Americans United.

Director of Communications Rob Boston traveled to Bloomington, Ind., March 31 to take part in the UU Chalice Lecture Series at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Bloomington. Boston’s talk, which was cosponsored by AU’s Indiana Chapter, was titled, “Defending Our Values in Difficult Times.”

Boston also appeared recently in a documentary titled “The Hellfire Nation” that aired on Channel News Asia. To watch the documentary online, do a web search for “Channel News Asia Hellfire Nation.”

Legal Director Richard B. Katskee was in Utah April 6 for the “2017 Constitutional Symposium on Religious Liberty” sponsored by the Center for Constitutional Studies at Utah Valley University in Orem. Katskee took part in a panel titled “Religious Exemptions and Equality.”

On April 12, Katskee led a webinar on Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer, a church-state case pending before the Supreme Court, for Street Law. The group helps teachers do a better job of instructing about the law.

AU Associate Legal Director Alex J. Luchenitser took part in a panel discussion on legislative prayer sponsored by the Delaware Valley Chapter of Americans United April 6. The event, “Invoking Greece v. Galloway,” also featured Brian Fields, president of Pennsylvania Nonbelievers, and Scott Rhoades, president of Lancaster Freethought Society. Janice Rael, president of the AU chapter, and Margaret Downey, president of the Free­thought Society, served as hosts and moderators.

The forum focused on the fallout from the Greece case, a dispute from New York that Americans United sponsored in 2014. The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 ruling, allowed local governments to open meetings with invocations but indicated that they should strive for diversity. Several cases are pending in lower courts to determine the scope of the ruling. 

Carmen Green, an AU legal fellow, participated in a panel discussion at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., April 4. The topic was the Trinity Lutheran Church  v. Comer case pending at the Supreme Court. The event was sponsored by the George Mason Civil Rights Law Journal.

Members of the Americans Uni­ted staff participated in Pink Out Day March 29, an event designed to show support for Planned Parenthood, an AU ally. Several staff members took part in a rally outside the U.S. Capitol. 

The Orange County (Calif.) Chapter of Americans United held a free public meeting April 15 featuring James Preston Allen, founding publisher of Random Lengths News. Allen addressed the topic, “What Does It Mean To Be A Patriot In The 21st Century?”

On April 5, Rollin Russell and Alison Mahaley, AU chapter activists in North Carolina, offered a presentation titled “A Teacher and a Preacher: A Discussion About the Current State of Public Education” to the Jewish Community Relations Council in Durham. Russell and Mahaley discussed the Religious Right’s long-running war on public education and outlined the threat posed by school voucher plans. Russell is a United Church of Christ minister, and Mahaley is a teacher turned activist. 

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