A Roadmap to #DrawTheLine for Church-State Separation

by Tony Webster Flickr/creativecommons

by Tony Webster

Many people I speak to and correspond with are looking for an agenda to #DrawTheLine between church and state. As previously stated, Americans United for Separation of Church and State (au.org) is one of the best organizations setting that agenda and tracking our victories.

While most of us tend to focus on national politics more than state politics, and even less on local politics, we have to keep in mind that school board members and city council members grow up to be state lawmakers and national candidates, so the front line for most of this work starts in your own communities.

As well as exposing the religious right at every turn, Americans United has positioned itself as a sound roadmap for our own activism as it pertains to church-state separation. It helps us identify the intersections where we can intercede, interrupt, and transform the creep of the religious right into our laws and policies. For example . . .

Like Americans United, we must make sure faith-based initiatives, efforts to fund programs based religious doctrine, fail to become law.

Americans United has been successful in helping us hold the line against prayer in public schools, vouchers (here, here, and here)  for religious schools, and teaching creationism in public schools.

“Public schools should teach science in science class, and let parents make their own decisions about religion,” continued Lynn. “It’s a simple idea that the Religious Right has never been able to grasp.” — Americans United Executive Director Barry W. Lynn.

Americans United shows us the way to advocate for prayer-free government meetings. If it is an official government event, you have every right to vocally oppose praying there. Likewise, religious symbols and monuments on government property should be the subject of your protest.

Americans United’s Project Fair Play has continued since 1996 helps to educate everyone, including faith leaders and congregants on the requirements of federal tax law and how to oppose partisan politics in churches.

Americans United has intervened continuously to keep us free from sectarian dogma in health care.

Most exciting, Americans United newest initiative, Protect Thy Neighbor, is funneling even more money to help us to continue our opposition to religious exemptions that are meant to legalizing discrimination of women, the poor, people of color, immigrants, and LGBT folks rather than just benefit individual beliefs.

Last, I wholeheartedly recommend Barry Lynn’s much anticipated new book, available August 4, God and Government: Twenty-Five Years of Fighting for Equality, Secularism, and freedom on Conscience.


Related: #VoteOutTheReligiousRight

Alison Gardner