Join us to celebrate “Religious Freedom Fighter” Rev. Barry Lynn on his farewell tour as Executive Director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, who will speak on
“The Trump Administration Really, Truly Hates the Separation of Church and State”
For 25 of its 70 year history, the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, has served as executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a Washington, D.C.-based organization dedicated to the preservation of the Constitution’s religious liberty provisions. Lynn is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, offering him a unique perspective on church-state issues.
An accomplished speaker, Lynn has appeared frequently on television and radio offering analysis of First Amendment issues, including PBS’s “NewsHour,” NBC’s “Today Show,” Fox News Channel, “ ABC’s Nightline,” “CBC’s “60 Minutes”ABC’s “Good Morning America,” and the national news on CNN, NBC, ABC and CBS.
Lynn writes frequently on religious liberty issues, in publications such as USA Today, The Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Nation.
$50 pp, includes buffet dinner, wine and beer
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Publisher and Donnybrook founder Ray Hartman will speak at our annual picnic on October 15. Ray was with us a few years ago for this event, and was a big hit. Details will follow, but set aside the date.
This is the case of Liberty Lutheran School, in Columbia, Missouri, that asked for Missouri government support for their playground upgrade. The AU comment on this is at: http://au.org/media/press-releases/americans-united-dismayed-by-us-supreme-court-s-decision-in-trinity-lutheran.
Rev. Lynn, who has been Executive Director of AU for over 25 years is retiring at the end of this year, as we announced in April. Now we can confirm that he will be in St. Louis with us on Sunday, October 1. Details will be forthcoming soon, but reserve the day.
We had planned to have State Representative Stacey Newman, who represents the 87th district give us an update on happenings in the legislature, but her work in Jefferson City kept her there. However, we were very pleased and fortunate to have Anti-defamation League Region Director Karen Aroesty provide a broader view of the law with respect to religious freedom. The meeting was at 7:00 pm on April 20 at The Center of Clayton, 50 Gay Avenue in Clayton. Light refreshments were served, and over twenty members attended. This was also our official Annual Meeting, and four current board members were re-elected.
Rev. Lynn has provided outstanding leadership to AU for 25 years. He has visited our Chapter many times, and will be missed. The announcement of his retirement at the end of 2017 is on the AU national website.
Trinity Lutheran Church in Columbia would like to get public funding to improve their preschool playground. After their application to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources was denied, they sued in federal court, claiming that they had been discriminated against. They lost in that trial but appealed to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, which also ruled against them. In January 2016, the Supreme Court agreed to hear their case, and it has now been scheduled for arguments on April 19. The details of the case are described in Church and State: http://au.org/media/press-releases/mo-church-has-no-right-to-taxpayer-funds-americans-united-and-allies-tell-us. The most recent development is that Missouri Attorney General Hawley has appointed James Layton, who served under previous Attorney General Koster to defend Missouri’s Blaine Amendment.
We had another successful Movie Night on February 16 at The Ethical Society. The video was the award-winning documentary, “The Revisionaries”, by Scott Thurman. It is the story of the Texas State Board of Education’ decisions on curricula, that determine the content of textbooks throughout the country for years at a time. The 2010 round of decisions was dominated by the religious right. This video tells the complicated story of the “standards” decision and how the two sides battled over the contents of American education. The Ethical Society was again our host for the evening, and we enjoyed the much-improved sound system for the video setup that we have donated to the Society.
This event could not have been more topical. A story about the 2017 battle over evolution in Texas textbooks appeared in the Post-Dispatch for February 1, 2017.
YOU SHOULDA BEEN THERE!
Americans United—St. Louis Holiday party was on December 29. A good group of supporters of Church/State Separation met to celebrate the holidays and gird our loins for the challenges of 2017
Arrangements were made through our MeetUp page. If you are not yet registered for the MeetUp, please do so right away, so that you will not miss upcoming events.
The link is: MeetUp page, https://www.meetup.com/Americans-United-for-Separation-of-Church-and-State
Amendment 3 purports to fund early childhood education and health programs with proceeds from an increase in the state tax on cigarettes (Missouri’s is lowest in the country). Opposition to Amendment 3 is widespread, including both gubernatorial candidates, a bipartisan majority of the state legislature, and the American Lung Association, the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, Missouri Cures, the National Education Association, and many others.
But why does AU care?
Amendment 3 would carve out a loophole in our state constitution’s ban on providing aid to religious schools with public funds. By creating an exemption to Article IX, Section 8 of the Missouri Constitution, Amendment 3 could result in sending public funds to private, religious schools.
Amendment 3 would establish a permanent “Early Childhood Commission” that must include an appointed representative of the “faith community” (which is undefined). The Commission would be responsible for distributing millions of dollars of tax money and because the Amendment also creates a constitutional loophole, recipients could include religious organizations.
The measure does not specify how these public funds will be used and provides no mechanism for evaluation or oversight. Its unintended consequences could be repaired only by passing another constitutional amendment.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State opposes Amendment 3. It’s a very bad idea with serious consequences. The complete text of the amendment is available at http://www.sos.mo.gov/cmsimages/Elections/Petitions/2016-152.pdf