When I first heard Americans United for Separation of Church and State had an opening for a communications associate, I was excited because of what a good fit it is for my personal and professional experience. To be able to utilize my skillset for a cause I feel strongly about? Yes, please!
Aside from our constitutional rights, what predominantly drew me to issues of separating church and state by law is striving for political and social equality.
Religion, although not Christianity, has always played a big role of my life. I grew up with it dictating almost everything I did.
But a lot of the negativity of not choosing to have religion dominate my life led me to form my own resistance and self-development. Instead of accepting norms that restricted who I was as a person, I kept exploring, and this is what led me to care so much about this issue on the broader, national scale.
As a feminist, I’m particularly disturbed by how religion continues to be political as it interferes with women’s health and rights. It’s unfortunate that in 2016, women still don’t have full access to reproductive rights depending on which state they live in thanks to the extreme power the Religious Right holds. We literally die because of this lack of access.
It’s ironic that many of the same politicians who enforce such restrictions in their state also have a loud mouth about how anti-women’s rights the Middle East is, which leads to another point.
This intersection is a good place to work.
Being an Arab American who grew up in the 9/11 era, I felt ethnic and religious discrimination socially. While I’ve strayed far from organized religion, it’s tough to not look at Donald Trump’s rhetoric about enforcing Muslim bans without becoming defensive.
Unfortunately, the Religious Right has created a societal hierarchy that correlates religious beliefs with how American you are, and it negatively impacts everybody but them. Defending freedom of and from religion as well as fighting against this societal construct and celebrating America for its diversity of numerous faiths and non-faiths is of great importance.
That’s what keeps America great, and it’s also what makes Americans United’s work so significant. Religion and politics are like oil and water – they don’t and shouldn’t mix.
To me, the phrase, “with liberty and justice for all” shouldn’t just be a line in the Pledge of Allegiance – it should be a reality. I look forward to diving deeper into the multitude of church-state issues through my writing and activism with Americans United.