The 109th Congress is likely to be hostile to church-state separation, but that doesn’t mean Americans United and its allies can’t win legislative victories.
Staffers in the Americans United Legislative Department are gearing up for the new session of Congress. AU members who want to help can do the following:
• Contact members of Congress: Religious Right groups are experts at creating phone meltdowns on Capitol Hill. If lawmakers don’t receive calls (and e-mails) expressing support for church-state separation, they may cave in to the Religious Right. Contact your members of Congress and ask for their help when church-state bills are being debated.
• Stay informed: Americans United tracks legislation in Congress and lets its members know via e-mail when they need to act. Sign up for this important service at Americans United’s website, www.au.org.
• Work with like-minded allies: Work with a local Americans United chapter, public education group, anti-censorship organization or group that stands in opposition to the Religious Right. Working in coalitions magnifies your voice and brings people of many different talents together to work on a common goal. (For information about AU chapters, visit www.au.org.) Create phone or e-mail trees to spread the word when legislation that threatens church-state separation is introduced.
• Reach out to the faith community: If you are active in a house of worship, work with religious leaders there and encourage them to support church-state separation. The Religious Right is trying to turn America’s clergy against separation of church and state. We need religious leaders who are not afraid to speak out publicly on behalf of the church-state wall.
• Speak out in the local media: Respond to letters to the editor, editorials or columns that attack church-state separation. Encourage reporters to write about how proposals in Congress could affect local taxpayers.
• Support your local public schools and libraries, which are frequently the targets of Religious Right attacks. Be wary of “taxpayer groups” that are really fronts for organizations that want to de-fund or privatize public education.
• Support Americans United and allied organizations that work to defend church-state separation at the national level.