Overview:

Christian nationalism is threatening all of our freedom, but Americans United for Separation of Church and State is fighting back.

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What do reproductive rights, marriage equality, and gender-affirming care have in common? We know that they are freedoms that conservatives are trying to strip from everyone, but there is one crucial thread tying them all together. They are all under threat because of a group pushing for Christian supremacy to advance their own interests: Christian nationalists.

Christian nationalism

Something that’s especially terrifying about Christian nationalism is that it isn’t very well-known. Everyday people are justified in fearing for their basic rights, but they may not know that Christian nationalism is a root cause of their problems. It can be hard to criticize Christian nationalism when you’re not familiar with it, but this is no meek and mild, or even biblical, Christianity. This is a radical right-wing crusade which has infiltrated the Supreme Court and bodies of power across the nation.

Christian Nationalism is an existential threat to a government of the people, for the people, and by the people. One of their primary tools for attaining supremacy is a weaponized religious freedom. Turning that legal protection into a tool to impose conservative Christianity on us all and to elevate conservative white Christians to a special, favored legal status.

Andrew L. Seidel, Americans United for Separation of Church and State VP of Strategic Communications, attorney and author

Religious freedom

These crusaders will tell you that their fight is for their religious freedom, but don’t be fooled – it is for their religious supremacy. They have done everything they can to force everyone to live by their own religious views, whether that is by coercing people to pray at public schools, by demanding that all marriages must be “biblical” (whatever that means), or of course, insisting that women be punished for sex. Just like Jesus wanted.

If you couldn’t tell, this is not religious freedom. For anyone. The only people that are “free” under Christian nationalism are rich, white, cishet Christian men. No one else. Because Christian nationalists see equality as oppression, and when they’re given equal treatment under the law, they feel threatened.

Historically, religious freedom has meant the right to worship, or not, as you see fit without interference by the government – as long as your actions don’t take away the rights of others or cause them harm. Christian nationalists are trying to foist a new definition of religious freedom onto the American people, one where that vital concept becomes a cloak for shabby forms of discrimination. They would twist religious freedom from a shield that protects into a sword that lashes out. Our challenge is to restore religious freedom to its original meaning and put an end to that concept being used as an instrument of coercion and control.

Rob Boston, Sr. Adviser of AU and Editor of Church & State magazine

Americans United

There is good news, though: There are so many people fighting back, including champions of religious freedom Americans United for Separation of Church and State. For 75 years, AU has been fighting to keep church and state separate, which in turn allows everyone to not only believe (or not) freely, but to live freely and be who they are.

Americans United brings together people of all religions and none to protect the right of everyone to believe as they choose — and stop anyone from using their beliefs to harm others. That’s true religious freedom. We fight in the courts, legislatures, and the public square for freedom without favor and equality without exception.

Rachel Laser, AU President and CEO

When I first found out just how nefarious and far-reaching these networks of ultra-rich (and powerful) Christian nationalists are, I felt helpless. But there is so much we can all do. The most important thing to remember is that working together is always more effective than working alone (and let’s face it, it’s more fun, too).

Summit for Religious Freedom

One way that you can join the movement to keep church and state separate is to join activists, political and religious leaders, and legal experts for the first-ever Summit for Religious Freedom (SRF), a collaborative conference hosted by AU in collaboration with allies. The “peak” of the summit will take place from April 21-24, 2023, in Washington, DC and virtually, in addition to continuous virtual events and community networking year-round.

SRF is our chance to bring together the various issue movements whose success depends on strong church-state separation. LGBTQ+ equality, abortion rights, strong public schools are all fighting the same enemy and SRF is the space for us to organize and coordinate our work together.

Brian Silva, AU Vice President of Outreach and Engagement

SRF’s developing lineup of keynote speakers includes AU President & CEO Rachel Laser, as well as activist and author Dr. Anthea Butler, Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-MD), and many more yet to be announced. Be sure to stay up to date on the lineup by checking back at TheSRF.org or subscribing to SRF’s email list.

Register now and join AU in the fight for religious freedom ​and church state separation.

If you require financial assistance, you can apply for scholarships that AU is offering to make SRF as accessible as possible. Beyond attending the conference, you can get involved by sponsoring SRF, proposing a breakout session, or just telling your friends and family. I can’t wait to see you there!

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Rebekah is a curious atheist, lifelong student, and creative introvert. She graduated from the conservative Christian Grove City College with a bachelor's degree in Communication Studies and a desire to...