It has taken nearly a full day for the impact of Tuesday’s devastating election results to sink in. Perhaps like me, you are feeling denial and disbelief…disappointment or even despair. Perhaps like me, you’re wondering how this could have happened?
The election of Donald Trump was a devastating blow to many of the values cherished by AU and, I suspect, almost everyone who supports Americans United. We believe in a country where every person is free to believe or not believe as they choose, but where religious belief is never an excuse to harm others. We fight to ensure that Americans don’t pay taxes to fund religious education or activities; houses of worship don’t become political action committees that endorse or oppose political candidates; and women, LGBTQ people, and religious minorities aren’t discriminated against in the name of religion. I am deeply worried that these values are in jeopardy.
As I watched the results come in Tuesday night, I couldn’t help but think about the many real people AU has helped over the years— parents whose children have been forced to pray in a public school; the women whose university used religion to deny them insurance coverage for reproductive health care; the decorated Desert Storm veteran who stood up against a government-sponsored Christian war memorial in his hometown; the same-sex couples denied their right to marry in Alabama by a state supreme court judge who took his orders from Scripture, not the Constitution. I fear for what their lives would be like in a country where the boundaries between church and state are blurred.
Tuesday’s outcome feels bleak, but I am more resolute than ever to fight to keep this country true to the principle of church-state separation that is enshrined in our Constitution.
It will take some time for many of us to heal from the wounds and disappointments of this election. Yet you can rely on my promise that we at AU are here for you. Our commitment is steadfast, and we are even more determined to fight for an America where there is religious freedom, equal rights and dignity for everyone— an America where the church-state wall is tall and strong. We will share more details about our strategy soon. For now, know that we stand with you and deeply appreciate you standing with us.