Americans United Executive Director Wins Prestigious Social Activist Award

The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Leader Of Church-State Watchdog Group Since 1992, To Receive Puffin/Nation Prize For Creative Citizenship

The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, will receive the annual Puffin/Nation Prize for Creative Citizenship at a ceremony next month.

The award is co-sponsored by The Puffin Foundation, which funds “artists and art organizations who are often excluded from mainstream opportunities due to their race, gender, or social philosophy,” and The Nation Institute, a progressive nonprofit media center. It is given annually to an individual “who has challenged the status quo through distinctive, courageous, imaginative and socially responsible work of significance.”

Lynn reacted to the news with gratitude.

“It’s an honor to receive The Puffin/Nation Prize for Creative Citizenship,” Lynn said. “When I look at the distinguished list of past honorees, I can’t help but feel humbled. Many of the men and women on that list have inspired me over the years, and I consider myself fortunate to have been able to learn from them.”

Continued Lynn, “For most of my adult life, I have worked to defend the separation of church and state. Unfortunately, this bedrock principle of American life isn’t appreciated by everyone. That’s why Americans United’s work is so important.”

Lynn earned the distinction because of his tireless dedication to ensuring that all Americans have true religious freedom. Lynn has been executive director of Americans United since 1992, and during his tenure AU’s budget has more than tripled. He has also overseen the creation of a highly effective in-house legal team and significantly boosted the organization’s national profile.

Lynn is the 14th winner of the award. Previous honorees include NAACP President Benjamin Jealous; playwright Tony Kushner; Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards; former Texas agriculture commissioner Jim Hightower; Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman; educator and author Jonathan Kozol; journalist and author Barbara Ehrenreich; labor activist Dolores Huerta and civil rights pioneer Robert Parris Moses.

The award comes with a $100,000 cash gift, which Lynn plans to donate to Americans United.

Lynn will receive the award on Dec. 9 at The Nation Institute’s Annual Dinner Gala in New York City. 

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.