About Americans United
Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU) is a nonpartisan educational and advocacy organization dedicated to advancing the separation of religion and government as the only way to ensure freedom of religion, including the right to believe or not believe, for all.
We believe that the wall of separation between church and state protects us all. It makes our country more fair, more equal and more inclusive. Religious freedom is about fairness. We don’t treat people differently because their beliefs are different from our own.
We envision an America where everyone can freely choose a faith and support it voluntarily, or follow no religious or spiritual path at all, and where the government does not promote religion over non-religion or favor one faith over another.
We use high-impact litigation, powerful lobbying and grassroots advocacy to ensure that:
- Religion does not dictate public policy.
- The government does not tell Americans what to believe or how to practice their faith.
- Discrimination is not justified under the guise of religion.
Led by President & CEO Rachel Laser, Americans United is based in Washington, D.C. and was founded in 1947.
If you share our commitment to church-state separation, please join us today. We welcome your support in this important cause.
“The experience of the United States is a happy disproof of the error so long rooted in the unenlightened minds of well- meaning Christians, as well as in the corrupt hearts of persecuting usurpers, that without a legal incorporation of religious and civil polity, neither could be supported. A mutual independence is found most friendly to practical Religion, to social harmony, and to political prosperity.”
— James Madison, from a letter sent to F.L. Schaeffer, Dec 3, 1821
Does Americans United oppose or promote religion?
No. Americans United does not take positions on theological questions. AU works to defend the free exercise of all religions as protected by the Constitution, and we oppose any effort to use government power to force anyone to support, take part in or fund religion.
Americans United was founded in 1947 by a broad coalition of religious, educational and civic leaders. Through the years, many members of the clergy have been involved in the work of Americans United and Americans United often works with like-minded groups, including religious groups, to achieve common goals.
Religious freedom is the right to decide which religion to follow – if any – without government coercion or interference. Indeed, religion and belief are stronger without government support.
Does Americans United get involved in elections?
As a tax-exempt organization, Americans United may not intervene in partisan politics.
Who are our members?
We are lawyers and lobbyists, students and activists, religious leaders and impassioned Americans. We are people of faith and people who don’t profess any particular faith. We are a community that includes and welcomes people of all genders, races, ethnicities, religions or beliefs, sexual orientations, ages, classes and abilities.
The Greater Houston Area Chapter of AU was founded in 1995.
We work to promote and protect religious freedom in Texas and in Houston by educating, speaking out, monitoring state and local developments and rallying citizens to defend religious liberty. We work with local organizations, community activists, faith leaders and houses of worship to safeguard church-state separation.
Our chapter organizes or sponsors educational programs that are free and open to the public. We alert our members and supporters to measures that infringe on church-state separation and encourage them to contact their representatives about them. We work with the national organization to address possible violations of church-state separation in our area.
Our chapter is an affiliate of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
Are you a member of a club, group or congregation seeking a guest speaker? Our Houston chapter has speakers available to discuss subjects related to separation of church and state and religious freedom, including:
the mission, activities and educational outreach of Americans United,
the history of church-state separation in America, and
issues such as the Do No Harm Act; the Johnson Amendment (the federal tax code provision that protects the integrity of tax-exempt organizations, including houses of worship, by ensuring they do not endorse or oppose political candidates); discrimination in the name of religion; LGBTQ rights; and schools. You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Religious Advisory Council
Rev. Dr. Jim Bankston
Retired United Methodist Clergy
Rev. Bruce Beisner
Minister, Bay Area Unitarian Universalist Church
Rev. Guinn Blackwell-Eagleson
Retired Presbyterian minister
Master Monk Reverend Seido Francavilla
St. Nichiren Buddhist Temple
Rev. Lisa Hunt
Rector, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church
Imam Rizwah Khan
Baitus Samee Mosque
Rev. Laura Mayo
Senior Minister, Covenant Church
Pastor John D. Ogletree, Jr.
Senior Pastor, First Metropolitan Church
Rabbi David J. Segal
Texas Organizer, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
Americans United Houston Board & Activists
Chapter Board Members, 2021-22
Nancy Friedman — president
Al Kahn — vice president
Keith Thompson — treasurer
Halley Trevas — secretary
Paul Pearson, Webmaster
Keith Thompson, Assistant Webmaster
Lewis and Ellen Krinsky
Barbara and Patrick McGuffey