March 2023 Church & State Magazine - March 2023

Staff Members Support Separation


Staff members and activists with Americans United continue to spread the word about the importance of church-state separation.

Here is some information about recent activities: On Dec. 5, 2022, AU President and CEO Rachel Laser was part of an American Bar Association panel that explored the connection between religious and reproductive freedom. She explained how abortion bans violate both. To watch the panel, go to YouTube and search for “Dobbs: What’s Religion Got to Do with It?”

While Laser was in St. Louis announcing AU’s lawsuit to protect abortion rights, she spoke to Pro-Choice Missouri Jan. 18. The following week, Laser spoke in Mountain View, Calif., at an event sponsored by two AU members, David Beck and Debra Robins. Laser briefed attendees on the growing threats to church-state separation and AU’s plans to respond. 

Laser attended a Feb. 8 event at Brookings Institution unveiling a new report by the Public Religion Research Institute on the acceptance of white Christian Nationalism in American culture. During the Q&A, she asked the panel of experts to opine on the idea that church-state separation is the obvious remedy to Christian Nationalism. (See Laser’s “Perspective” column in this issue for more on the report.) 

On Feb. 27, Laser spoke to a class on religion, values and the future of democracy at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.  

Maggie Garrett, AU’s vice president for public policy, did two events recently. On Jan. 6, she spoke remotely to the Interfaith Alliance Iowa Chapter, and on Jan. 14, she was an in-person guest speaker at Temple University Law School’s First Amendment class in Philadelphia.

AU Legal Fellow Gabi Hybel joined a Dec. 6 Demand Justice webinar to talk about AU’s brief in 303 Creative v. Elenis, a pending Supreme Court case that seeks to allow businesses to ignore anti-discrimination laws. Hybel outlined how granting religious exemptions will harm LGBTQ people as well as religious and racial minorities. 

Church & State Editor Rob Boston was in Grand Rapids, Mich., Dec. 8 for an event sponsored by the Michigan Library Association. Boston discussed how church-state separation can be used to defeat censorship attempts. On Jan. 9, Boston gave a remote talk to the Humanists and Freethinkers of Fairfield County, Conn., discussing the threat of Christian Nationalism. On Jan. 31, Boston gave a talk on Christian Nationalism via Zoom to the Metropolitan Greater Oakland Democratic Club in California. On Feb. 18, he spoke in person at Congregation Etz Hayim in Arlington, Va., and on Feb. 22, he addressed the Strathmore Speaker Series in Syracuse, N.Y., via Zoom. 

Andrew L. Seidel, AU’s vice president of strategic communications, joined Rewire News Group via Zoom to talk about how the Supreme Court is advancing a Christian Nationalist agenda. To watch the Dec. 9 event, search YouTube for “RNG Presents: One Nation Under God?”

On Feb. 4, Seidel delivered a briefing about Christian Nationalism during a meeting of the Secular Coalition for America in Washington, D.C. 

AU’s Seidel: Christian Nationalists are on the march

Alicia Johnson, national organizer and student network manager, attended the annual conference of the National Council for the Social Studies in Philadelphia Dec. 2-4. Johnson staffed a table in the exhibit hall where she told attendees about the work of Americans United and made AU literature and materials available. 

Brian Silva, AU’s vice president of outreach & engagement, addressed the Ethical Culture Society of Bergen County, N.J., Feb. 12. Silva’s speech was titled, “Who Stands to Lose if the Wall Fails? The Real Life Consequences of the End of the Establishment Clause.” The event was co-sponsored by the Puffin Foundation.

Americans United’s Atlantic Coast Chapter in Florida held an open house and discussion on church-state topics Dec. 14 at Kendall’s Bagels & More in Palm Coast. 

The Orange County, Calif., Chapter of Americans United met Feb. 18 to hear an address by Austen Parrish, dean of the University of California, Irvine School of Law. 

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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