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Americans United for Separation of Church and State

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Civil Liberties, Civil Rights, Crime & Law, Interfaith Coalitions, Religion

Mission: Americans United was founded in 1947 by a distinguished group of political, religious and educational leaders seeking to defend the U. S. Constitution''s guarantees of religious freedom. AU''s primary task is educating the American public about the importance of religious liberty through the separation of church and state and defending that crucial constitutional principle against attacks by extremist Religious Right groups such as the Christian Coalition.

Americans United currently represents more than 75,000 individuals, as well as 3,000 cooperating churches and other religious bodies. Americans from many different faiths - and some who profess no particular religious affiliation - have joined together to promote full religious freedom for all.

Geographic areas served: National

Programs: To achieve its goal, Americans United publishes Church & State, an award-winning monthly journal and the only periodical in the U.S. dedicated solely to tracking separation issues, as well as a variety of pamphlets and books on contemporary issues in the church-state field; addresses national affairs through testimony before the U.S. Congress, state legislatures, and other governmental bodies and agencies; organizes citizens around the country in local chapters to respond quickly to church and state threats in local communities and defend religious liberty at the grassroots; conducts a vigorous program of legal work, participating since the 1960s in every major church-state case before the U.S. Supreme Court and in pre-litigation advocacy on behalf of parents and citizens to school boards and other local organizations.  First Freedom First is a partnership with The Interfaith Alliance  revolves around a petition to protect religious liberty and works for separation of Church and State.

Community Stories

7 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1 Hal D.

Donor

Rating: 5

I have contributed to AU for a number of years and have always felt my investment justified. AU's committment to and success in maintaining the integrity of the wall of separation is commendable - no other group, to my knowledge (and I've sought them out!), works harder to protect our First Amendment right of religious freedom. I especially appreciate the diversity of AUs leadership (and membership). They are people from all religious and non-religious paths, all ages, all races, and all walks of life. They are not elitist, they are truly reflective of the entire American scene. Unlike other church and state organizations, AU is not "anti-religion" It supports and honors religion by helping to protect it from the raw power of government. And, of course, AU does not wage "war" against Christians, it merely defends the Constitution against those people who would challenge our freedom to follow our own personal path in matters of conscience. AU is a smart and savvy organization with a gifted and dedicated staff. They are efficient and strategic in their legal efforts; fair and truthful in their arguments. Clearly, I'm proud to be a member.

Nancy173

Board Member

Rating: 5

Americans United for the Separation of Church and State is a great and efficient organization. We are proud of our work to help make America safe and hospitable for people from all different religious backgrounds and those who have no religious tradition. It is vital to protect religious diversity!

Review from Guidestar

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have always believed in the separation of church and state, and I like the fact that Americans United is non-partisan and welcomes people of all religious beliefs and those with no religion, However, the important thing to me is that they are an advocacy group, so I know my donations will be used to take action. I see their leaders on TV debating the issues and I read about their efforts in their magazine and on their website.

Recently we had a church/state issue in our area and reported it to Americans United. We just clicked on the “Report a Violation” button on their website, and before long, we heard back from them. We are not finished with the issue yet, but we are glad for the support they are giving us. That is why I continue to donate to them.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I’ve been an active member since 2004 but I have been committed to the separation of church and state for a very long time. I was raised in England and then moved to Israel before I came to the USA. I became a US citizen the first moment I could – and the main reason I wanted to do this was the constitutional protection of separation of church and state! Neither England nor Israel has this. In England, as a member of a minority religion, I was always made to feel second class in school. I don’t want to see that for anyone living in this great country.

What I love about AU is that it protects all of us and it ensures that we as a nation retain neutrality on religion while supporting everyone whether they are atheist or evangelical. At AU we all get a seat at the table! Our political affiliations don’t matter, our religious affiliations don’t matter and nor does our bank account.

I was very proud to start a chapter of AU in Orange County (California) and I am indebted to the staff at AU in Washington. Not only Barry Lynn who has been supportive of our chapter with his time but also and especially the Field Department – Beth Corbin, Steven Baines and David Morris do a phenomenal job supporting the chapter.

I am also happy to be a donor to this group and feel that my monthly donations are put to good use whether through the Field Group, the Legal Group (truly awesome) or the Legislative Group. The support of these different groups who work together to promote our first amendment rights is what makes AU special.

Review from CharityNavigator

1 Janice R.

Board Member

Rating: 5

As a lifelong supporter of religious freedom, I have worked with many groups who add church-state issues to their other goals. When I joined Americans United 10 years ago, I found the most professional, dedicated organization I'd ever been involved in. AU devotes 100% of its time exclusively to church-state issues, which include all the areas I am passionate about, from LGBT equality and women's rights to science literacy and supporting public schools. AU's Church & State Magazine is the only one of its kind, giving me important news related to church-state issues and problems.

AU has helped me as an activist by providing the tools I need to educate the public, to engage my elected officials, and to take action when Jefferson's Wall of Separation is threatened. I would not be the successful activist I am today without AU's support and guidance. I'm proud to be an AU Chapter Leader and I find our approach, of uniting the religious with the nonreligious, to be the best way to share the message about the importance of church-state separation.

Review from CharityNavigator

2

Board Member

Rating: 5

Like most Americans, for many years I took separation of church and state for granted. Until I moved to the state where I live now. Here I have come to realize that there are actual individuals and radical, fundamentalist, religious organizations (many with lots of money) who are actively working to dismantle the greatest gift our Founders bequeathed to us: the separation of church and state. There is no freedom without this separation. And freedom, even as our understanding of the concept broadens and deepens, is what America is all about.

Since AU is the only organization that devotes all of its resources to church-state separation issues and since the Founders made it the first tenet of the First Amendment and since I believe all our freedoms flow from this separation, I answered the call when a chapter was formed in my area. I am now its President.

At our Chapter, each one of us is a volunteer and we all understand the importance of our volunteer work. It doesn't matter what you believe at AU, whether you are Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Hindu, Jew, Atheist, Skeptic, Agnostic or any of the over 2,000 different religious and philosophical worldviews, we come together to defend each other's right to believe or not believe what our conscience dictates. That's what it means to be an American. AU National and all of our Chapters are on the front line in defending this most precious right. And I would recommend you do anything you can to help.

Review from CharityNavigator

1 Joseph17

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

Americans United, on paper, sounds like a great idea. However, in reading through their Facebook page and while looking at other social media outlets, it becomes apparent that their mission is not protecting freedom of religion from encroachment by the State but, rather, it directly assaults religion at every turn. The nonprofit is unscrupulous in its dissemination of false information on ranges of issues and the people running their social media pages have no qualms about shutting down honest and candid discussion when they are faced with opposition to their poorly picked battles. Often, you will see anti-religious screeds left posted for all to see while opposing view points will be scrubbed from their page within minutes, especially when their false information is pointed out. There is very little impact this organization makes except to draw in the most vitriolic protestors against the civil liberties of citizens whom the organization makes no effort to hide loathing for.

I am ashamed to have given money to this organization without having researched them better first.

Review from CharityNavigator