Americans United will host a National Advocacy Summit on March 2224, 2020, in the heart of Washington, D.C. The summit is designed to bring together activists of all stripes from around the country for an update on current church-state issues, a strategy session on how to defend our rights and visits with members of Congress on Capitol Hill.
Church & State asked Sarah Gillooly, AU's vice president for state outreach and engagement, to explain the summit and let AU's supporters know what they can expect during the event.
Registration is open online at: www.au.org/conference. The site will be updated as speakers and panels are added, so check back frequently.
Q. What is the National Advocacy Summit, and why is Americans United sponsoring it?
Gillooly: The Americans United 2020 National Advocacy Summit will bring AU supporters from across the country together in Washington, D.C., to learn, connect and advocate in the halls of Congress and build the movement for separation of religion and government--the only way to ensure freedom of religion, including the right to believe or not believe, for all.
For years, AU has gathered our volunteer leaders in D.C. each year for an annual meeting. However, as the political moment becomes more and more urgent, we knew it was time to make sure our doors were open to the entire AU family--volunteer leaders, but also members, supporters, students, faith leaders and friends who have just recently learned about our cause. With the constant barrage of attacks on religious freedom leading to discrimination against both nonbelievers and people of minority faiths, we need spaces where we can come together for fellowship and fun. The National Advocacy Summit will be just that. It will be an opportunity not only to learn together, but also get inspired and connect with friends old and new.
Q. These are very challenging times for separation of church and state. How can citizen activists make a difference?
Gillooly: When we think about the enormity of the attacks on the separation of church and state, we often have one of two responses--either "the courts will fix that" or "the problem is so huge I feel helpless." The truth is, the courts are increasingly hostile to the separation of religion and government. And apathy isn't an option.
The most important thing we can do is ask ourselves what is in our immediate sphere of influence. We sometimes think we need huge rallies or big electoral change to make a difference...