Americans United For Separation of Church and State (AU) is a nonpartisan educational organization dedicated to preserving the constitutional principle of church-state separation as the only way to ensure religious freedom for all Americans. Americans United represents over 70,000 individual members and 5,000 churches and other houses of worship nationwide.
Friday, June 21, 2013
From the Desk of Barry Lynn
From the Desk of Barry Lynn
United States Supreme Court recently announced it will hear an
Americans United case that challenges government-sponsored, clergy-led
sectarian prayers before meetings of the town board in Greece, New York.
It will be the first time the Supreme Court has weighed in on this issue in 30 years!
And if the justices rule the wrong way, it could set a terrible nationwide precedent.
AU took on the case in Greece in 2007 because what was happening there
was an affront to many residents and a blatant violation of the
separation of church and state. For years, local officials began their
government meetings with prayers that were almost always Christian.
Local residents felt like second-class citizens in their own community
but couldn’t get the city government to listen. When they asked
Americans United to help, I knew we couldn’t say no.
Since then, battle lines have been drawn. AU represented the plaintiffs.
Opposing us was the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a wealthy and
powerful Religious Right legal group founded by TV and radio preachers
that signed on to represent the town.Americans United lost the first round but won on appeal, leading the ADF to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Now that the case is before the highest court in the land, we have to do
all we can to bring it to a successful conclusion. AU’s legal director,
Ayesha Khan, will personally argue this case before the Supreme Court.
This case is going to involve countless hours of work for AU’s dedicated
legal team. They’ll be involved in research to frame the best possible
arguments, lining up allies to stand with us by filing amicus briefs
before the court, and engaging some of the country’s leading legal minds
on this issue. And it comes at a time when our resources are already
renew today! Your continued support will ensure that AU has the funds
it needs to support this lawsuit and our vitally important efforts to
keep the church-state wall strong.
me be clear about one thing: This was not “voluntary” prayer in Greece.
These prayers were offered as part of the official meetings of the
town. Members of the town board could have engaged in truly voluntary
prayers before the session got under way, but they insisted on making
these public pronouncements of faith.
What's more, the governmental prayers were almost always Christian.
In fact, during one 9-year period, every single one of the town’s
prayer-givers was Christian.
You read that right: every single one! And over the 18-month period
before the case was filed, almost 90 percent of the prayers were overtly
Christian, referencing “Jesus Christ,” “Jesus,” “Your Son” or the “Holy
The town board was choosing sides on religion. They were sending a
message: We have a favorite religion. It’s this one. If it’s not yours,
If the U.S. Supreme Court allows this, you
can bet that there will be communities large and small all over America
that will decide to adopt their “favorite religion” as well. A gaping
hole will be blown in the wall of separation between church and state.
With your renewed help, Americans United will have the resources
we need to present the best possible case to the Supreme Court to
ensure that neither conservative Christianity, nor any single religion,
becomes enshrined as a de facto state-supported faith.
Please renew as generously as you are able,
so Americans United can craft the most powerful argument possible to
make sure the Religious Right’s dream world doesn’t become our