December 2023 Church & State Magazine - December 2023

Staff members promote AU in nationwide series of public events


Americans United staff members and chapter activists have been busy promoting separation of church and state and AU’s work in a series of public events. 

Here is some information about recent activities:

Rachel Laser, president and CEO of Americans United, was in Missouri on Nov. 1 to celebrate the 75th anniversary of AU’s St. Louis Chapter. The following day, she traveled to Oklahoma and joined Robert P. Jones, president and founder of Public Religion Research Institute, for an event in Tulsa. Titled “Christian Nationalism in America: Past and Present,” the event was sponsored by Magic City Books, All Souls Unitarian Church, Fellowship Congregational Church and Tulsa Metropolitan Ministries and took place at Congregation B’nai Emunah.

On Nov. 11, Laser spoke at the First Unitarian Church of Albuquerque, N.M., on the topic “Church-State Separation and the Battle for American Democracy.”

Andrew Seidel, AU’s vice president of strategic communications, spoke in Metairie, La., Oct. 21 to SE Louisiana Nonbelievers. Seidel’s speech was titled, “American Crusade: How the Supreme Court is Weaponizing Religious Freedom.” A book signing followed. 

Seidel spoke at West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas, Nov. 8, where he addressed the threat of Christian Nationalism. The event was sponsored by the school’s chapter of the Secular Student Alliance. 

Church & State Editor Rob Boston participated in a Nov. 8 panel discussion titled “Secularism Triumphant: Is the U.S. Education System Turning into the French System?” about religion and public education at the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C. Boston spoke to the Washington Area Secular Humanists in Chevy Chase, Md., on Nov. 11, on “The State of Separation.” 

Brian Silva, AU’s vice president for outreach and engagement, joined several allied organizations in Kansas City, Mo., for a series of events in early November designed to show support for legal abortion. On Nov. 5 at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church, he addressed “Christian Nationalists Aren’t Stopping at Abortion.” 

Alicia Johnson, AU’s national organizer and student network manager, spoke at Boston University Nov. 14 at an event sponsored by Students for Reproductive Freedom.

AU’s Nashville Chapter hosted an event Nov. 9 titled “Christian Nationalism and Evangelicalism.” The speaker was the Rev. Dr. Kevin Riggs, senior pastor of Franklin Community Church. That same day, AU’s Greater Naples, Fla., Chapter joined the Interfaith Alliance of Southwest Florida to host an event titled “Christian Nationalism 101: What Is It? Why Does It Matter?” The speakers were the Rev. Paul Raushenbush, president and CEO of the Interfaith Alliance; Rabbi Adam Miller, senior rabbi of Temple Shalom in Naples; the Rev. Dr. Barrion Staples, pastor, educator and civil rights leader; Cori Craciun, executive director of Naples Pride; and Kathy Curatolo, former member of the Collier County Public School Board. 

The Orange County, Calif., Chapter of Americans United held a virtual event on Oct. 21 with longtime activist Hans Johnson. He spoke about “Confronting Vitriol at School Boards.”  

AU’s Kohlhepp (l) and former Youth Organizing Fellow Evelyn Boateng-Ade table at the Women’s Convention

AU Communications Department staffers Lauryn Seering and Rebekah Kohlhepp joined former Youth Organizing Fellow Evelyn Boateng-Ade at the Women’s Convention in Milwaukee Oct. 20-22. They distributed AU material, attended sessions and met new supporters.

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