May 2024 Church & State Magazine - May 2024

Workshops and special sessions: SRF attendees learn hands-on skills


Huffman: Welcome to Washington! (Photo by Chris Line Photography)

The Summit for Religious Freedom featured a variety of special workshops and breakout sessions designed to give attendees information and tools they need to effectively oppose Christian Nationalism.

Here’s a rundown:

“How the Courts Have Undermined Public Education and Religious Freedom” with Samantha Sokol, federal policy advocate, Americans United; Dena Sher, AU’s acting vice president for public policy; and Linh Dang, senior policy specialist, National Education Association.

“Building Power and Community with Social Media” with Andrew L. Seidel, AU vice president for strategic communications; Brandon Wolf, national press secretary, Human Rights Campaign; Jess Piper of Blue Missouri; Tim Whitaker, creator and facilitator, New Evangelicals; Erin Reed, “Erin in the Morning.”

“Freedom Under Fire: Christian Nationalist Attacks on Nearly Every Aspect of Life and How to Push Back” with Logan Casey and Tessa Juste of the Movement Advancement Project.

“Past, Present and Upcoming Battles Over Health Mandates and Religious Accommodations” with Zach Pekelis and Erica Coray of Pacifica Law Group.

“Youth Activism for Church-State Separation” with Ranen Miao, Dane Sherman, Luke Fisher and Sanchi Rohira.

“Plain Words: Dismantling and Countering the Linguistic Framework of Christian Nationalism” with Bruce Gourley of Good Faith Media.

“When the Religious Rights Come Together” with Ani Zonneveld, president of Muslims for Progressive Values.

“Challenging Christian Nationalism at the Local Level” with David Morris, AU outreach and engagement manager; Cynthia Holmes of AU’s St. Louis Chapter; Lizz Hammon of STOP Moms for ‘Liberty’; Mirabelle Stoedter of AU’s Nashville Chapter; and Devon Graham of American Atheists.

“Will It Be Preaching or Teaching Religion in the Post-Kennedy Era” with Linda K. Wertheimer, author and researcher; Tim Hall of the “Religion Matters” website; and Sinthia Shabnam of the Islamic Association of Raleigh.

“So You Want to be an Organizer” with David Brown and Christina Iacono of the Unreasonable podcast.

“Having More Effective Conversations About Abortion Through Shared Values, Religious Freedom and Church-State Separation” with Brian Silva, vice president for outreach and engagement, Americans United; Alicia Johnson, national organizer and student network manager, Americans United; David Morris, AU’s outreach and engagement manager; and Clarke Wheeler, National Women’s Law Center.

“Understanding the Equality Act” with Rae Leiner and Allen Morris of the National LGBTQ Task Force and LaLa Zannell, ACLU.

“The State of U.S. Democracy and Emerging Threats: Project 2025” with Megan Uzzell, strategic initiatives and external affairs director at Democracy Forward, and Max Levy, digital strategy director at Democracy Forward.

“Reclaiming Our Faith: America’s Christians Countering Christian Nationalism” with Karli Wallace Thompson, digital campaigner at Faithful America and Maureen O’Leary, senior director of field & organizing at Interfaith Alliance.

“A Peek Inside the Right’s Playbook: Unpacking Scenes from the 2023 Pray, Vote, Stand Summit” with the Rev. Naomi Washington-Leapheart, strategic partnerships director at Political Research Associates; Frederick Clarkson, senior research analyst at Political Research Associates; and Katherine Stewart, author and journalist.

In addition, many SRF attendees watched a screening of the documentary “Bad Faith: Christian Nationalism’s Unholy War on Democracy” the evening of April 15. The viewing was followed by a panel discussion featuring Stephen Ujlaki, the film’s director and producer; Anne Nelson, the author of the book Shadow Network: Media, Money, and the Secret Hub of the Radical Right, the book that inspired “Bad Faith”; Lisa Sharon Harper, founder and president of Freedom Road, who appears in the film; Todd Stiefel, freethought activist and executive producer of “Bad Faith”; and writer/researcher Katherine Stewart, who’s also in the documentary.

On April 16, dozens of SRF attendees took part in Hill Day, during which they visited congressional staff to discuss the Do No Harm Act. Sixty-eight offices received visits.

U.S. Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) welcomed the attendees to the nation’s capital and thanked them for their activism.

“I cannot say enough good things about Americans United,” Huffman told the crowd. “You are incredible advocates, and I love how you are happy warriors in this fight.”

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.

Act Now