AU Chapters Are Fighting For Religious Freedom: Grassroots Trainings Are Under Way

The assaults on religious freedom and church-state separation by the Trump/Pence administration have fired up a base of already passionate Americans United supporters, and they are ready to fight back. This past weekend, I joined AU’s Field team, chapter leaders and supporters from North Carolina, Florida and Tennessee for a two-day training on grassroots organizing.

Everyone came ready to listen and take notes, but we didn’t stay in our seats for long. We worked in small groups and role-played. We became immersed in the experience and soon were exchanging advice and cautionary tales in order to learn from each other’s victories and failures. Perhaps most importantly, we learned effective strategies for having meetings with our elected representatives and choosing issues to win.

After training tirelessly for two days, we gathered by state and took what we had learned over the intensive training to formulate goals for the year to come. We asked ourselves, “What can we change in a year? And how will we get there?”

Our post-training goals were ambitious but achievable now that we are equipped with innovative and effective community organizing skills. These goals included anything from outreach and recruitment to building coalitions in our local communities and across the state – all with the greater goal of protecting religious freedom at home.

Religious freedom advocates train to become better grassroots organizers.

As always, the AU Field Department is dedicated to providing support and resources to our chapters so they can continue to be our first line of defense against assaults on religious freedom. If you’re interested in joining a local chapter, check out AU.org/get-involved/chapters to see if there is one in your area.

This training is just one of AU’s many efforts to energize advocates of religious freedom across the country. Next, we’ll be traveling to Texas for training in Houston, where many attacks on religious freedom are currently under way. These trainings are another stage in a long effort to tap into the local resistance and prepare AU chapters and supporters for the upcoming fights to safeguard religious freedom under the Trump/Pence administration.

We’ll be putting these lessons to good use during the week of Aug. 21, when AU will join with allies to organize Hometown Congressional Visits to educate members of Congress about the importance of the Johnson Amendment. This more than 60-year-old federal law protects the integrity of tax-exempt organizations, including houses of worship, by ensuring they do not endorse or oppose political candidates. Trump and a few members of Congress and far-right religious leaders want to repeal or weaken the Johnson Amendment for their own political gain, so we’re meeting with lawmakers to seek their support for the current law. We’ve created a toolkit with all the information you need to plan a visit with your representatives and senators — you can find it here.