In observance of Martin Luther King Day and in support of Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, Americans United for Separation of Church and State President and CEO Rachel Laser issued the following statement:

“As we commemorate the birthday of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we should remember that as a proud preacher and civil rights leader he said that the church ‘must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state.’ Dr. King knew that the wall of separation between church and state protects us all. It makes our country more fair, more equal and more inclusive.

“As the Supreme Court takes up the case of a football coach who held post-game prayer rallies as a ‘religious freedom’ issue, we should remember that Dr. King also supported the 1962 Supreme Court decision prohibiting enforced prayer in public schools. Americans United is representing the Bremerton School District because the district’s decisions exemplify why real religious freedom is a shield that protects us all, not a sword to harm or exclude others.

“While we are relieved that the hostages at Congregation Beth Israel were all safely released, we are also reminded that religious and racial minorities are always more at risk from religious extremists, and that extremism can still threaten any of us at any time. We ask Americans to join us in our pledge to uphold our constitutional principle of a secular nation that practices freedom without favor and equality without exception, and that promises dignity and safety to every American.”

Americans United is a religious freedom advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, AU educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.

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