Americans United Executive Director Barry W. Lynn today announced that he will retire at the end of 2017.
Lynn, who will turn 69 later this year, has served as Americans United’s executive director for 25 years. He was appointed by the organization’s Board of Trustees on Sept. 22, 1992.
“The last 25 years have been amazing,” Lynn said. “I’ve been honored to lead Americans United during what has been a challenging period, but I’ve decided it’s time for me to step down and for Americans United to enter its next phase of growth under new leadership.”
Lynn oversaw key legal and legislative victories for Americans United. During his time as executive director, AU worked to block a dangerous constitutional amendment in Congress that would have removed church-state separation from the First Amendment, defeated Alabama’s “Ten Commandments” judge Roy Moore in court, put a stop to the teaching of “intelligent design” creationism in Dover, Pa., public schools, launched a national project to combat pulpit politicking, exposed the machinations of Religious Right groups, defended the rights of the LGBTQ community and undertook dozens of other successful initiatives.
Lynn, an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ and an attorney, authored two books during his time with Americans United – Piety & Politics: The Right-Wing Assault on Religious Freedom (2006) and God & Government: Twenty-Five Years of Fighting for Equality, Secularism and Freedom of Conscience (2015).
Prior to coming to Americans United, Lynn worked for the government relations office of the United Church of Christ in Washington and the legislative office of the American Civil Liberties Union.
The Rev. Dr. Neal Jones, president of Americans United’s Board of Trustees, praised Lynn for his many years of service.
“For 25 years, Barry has been a force of nature. He worked overtime revitalizing Americans United by traveling the country, speaking, writing, testifying before Congress, debating opponents of church-state separation in the media and overseeing AU’s budget and growth,” said Jones. “He has earned his retirement. Yet I know Barry has a passion for social justice and that he’ll remain involved in these issues and in others that are so important to him.”
Jones, minister of Main Line Unitarian Church in Devon, Pa., noted that under Lynn’s tenure, Americans United’s budget increased fourfold. Lynn grew the staff dramatically and expanded AU’s legal program, its lobbying efforts, its grassroots presence and its media profile.
Jones said that a search is under way to find a new executive director/CEO for Americans United, which is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year.
“We’re undertaking a thorough, nationwide search to find new leadership for Americans United,” said Jones. “I have no doubt that we’ll end up with a strong candidate who will meet the challenges before us and build on AU’s 70 years of diligence in safeguarding the church-state wall.”
For more information about Lynn’s retirement and to read about his accomplishments as executive director of Americans United, visit this special section of AU's website.
Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.