Since she became president and CEO of Americans United (AU) for Separation of Church and State in February 2018, Rachel Laser has been hard at work making sure this Constitutional right is upheld and preserved.
Just this week, she stood on the steps of the Supreme Court with AU Legal Director Richard Katskee during the Bladensburg Cross WWI Memorial case expressing that the cross-shaped memorial which has stood for nearly a century in Maryland does not represent the faiths of all who fell.
Her Twitter feed has been abuzz as of late with updates on the organization’s work in fighting religious discrimination for adoptive parents who have been denied by federally-funded adoption agencies who have turned perspective parents away because they are the wrong religion. She also tweeted about the Trump Administration’s attempts to curb women’s reproductive rights in its ongoing attacks against Planned Parenthood.
Laser, the organization’s first non-Christian and female leader in AU’s 71-year history, will deliver the keynote message The Power of Faith in America at the 77th Annual Rabbi Benedict and Ada S. Glazer Institute for Jewish Studies 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, March 7 at Temple Beth El, 7400 Telegraph Rd, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.
The Glazer Institute is
the longest-running Interfaith Institute in the country, celebrating Temple
Beth El’s historic and growing commitment to interfaith relations. It is free
and open to the community. For more information or to RSVP, contact
Jennifer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 248.851.1100.
This year’s co-sponsors are JCRC / AJC – Detroit, ADL – Anti-Defamation League, The Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit and InterFaith Leadership Council of Metropolitan Detroit
Rachel, a lawyer, advocate and strategist who has dedicated her career to making our country more inclusive, said the most pressing issue surrounding church-state separation today is the misuse of religious freedom as a basis for discrimination and a license to impose one set of religious beliefs on all of us.
“We’re seeing this especially in the context of LGBTQ equality, women’s reproductive freedom and the rights of religious minorities,” said Rachel in a written statement to IFLC. “Those leading these attacks on church-state separation are promoting a regressive social agenda cloaked in the protective garb of religious freedom.”
In her position at Americans United, Rachel oversees the organization’s work to protect freedom of conscience for all and ensure religion is not used to justify discrimination. Prior to coming to AU, Rachel held positions as deputy director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, director of the Culture Program at Third Way and senior counsel at the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC). Rachel is a graduate of Harvard University and the University of Chicago Law School.
Laser said AU is fighting back by bringing lawsuits in the courts, educating policymakers and building a movement of Americans united for separation of church and state. We’re modernizing the cause, creating videos and other content on social media that connect the dots between church-state separation and so many of the other issues that younger Americans care about. We’re working with and continuing to build a cadre of faith leaders, including Christian leaders, who speak out on behalf of this cherished American principle.
What can people do to support this cause? Laser said people can put a human face to the issue by telling their own story about why separation of religion and government is so crucial to you and to our country.
“If you practice a religion, you can urge your religious denomination to speak out on behalf of church-state separation. You can write to your local newspapers and your local and federal representatives when this issue is in play. You can join the growing movement of Americans who understand that America would not be America without church-state separation and are making this issue a priority.”