By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
The 2014 Annual Membership meeting of the Oklahoma City Chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church & State will be held on Constitution Day, Wednesday, Sept. 17. This year’s meeting will feature special guest speaker National AU Communications Director, Rob Boston.
The event will take place from 7 – 9 p.m. at Belle Isle Library, 5501 N. Villa in Oklahoma City.
“Rob Boston is one of the leading experts on the legal questions concerning the First Amendment duty of keeping entangling alliances from developing between faith beliefs and government services,” said chapter president John Loghry.
“Religion and government must be kept separate to preserve the legitimacy of both.”
Americans United is a nonpartisan organization dedicated to preserving the constitutional principle of church-state separation as the only way to ensure religious freedom for all Americans.
In his new book, “Taking Liberties: Why Religious Freedom Doesn’t Give You the Right to Tell Other People What to Do,” Boston says, “It’s time to restore the real meaning of religious freedom: It means you get to make decisions for yourself, not anyone else.”
Talking Liberties addresses issues like same-sex marriage, access to contraceptives, religion in public education and censorship.
In the words of organizers, Taking Liberties is a much-needed broadside against the Religious Right’s reckless attempt to meddle in our personal lives.
Boston has appeared on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper,” Fox News Channel’s “O’Reilly Factor,” NBC’s “Nightly News” and other programs. He has also appeared as a guest on talk-radio shows across the country and is frequently featured in print interviews.
Having worked at Americans United since 1987, Boston is also editor of AU’s “Church & State” magazine.
“Nothing makes me happier than to join in the effort to defend the separation of church and state that includes the Baptists, the Joint Committee, the Interfaith Alliance, the American Humanists Association, the CFI (Center for Inquiry), the Religious Action Center for Reformed Judaism, the Hindu American Foundation, Muslim groups, Atheists groups – to bring everybody together – all standing together to defend the church-state wall,” Boston commented. “Because that is extremely important.”
The evening’s agenda will include a discussion about the recent Internal Revenue Service decision to monitor churches and other houses of worship for electioneering.
Last month a settlement was reached in federal court in Madison, Wisconsin, where the initial lawsuit was filed in 2012 by the Freedom from Religion Foundation, an atheist advocacy group.
“I see no signs of progress,” Boston said. “If the IRS has indeed formulated a new rule for church audits and a process that could lead to a crackdown on the blatant forms of church-based politicking that we have seen, that information must, by law, be published in the Federal Register. I hope to see it there soon.”
OKAU communications chair, James Nimmo said, “If it’s providing legal counsel for plaintiffs or filing friend-of-the-court briefs, AU is on the job thanks to interested and supportive citizens from across the country and from many faith traditions.
“The guaranteed Amendments of the Bill of Rights need to be looked at as a resource to be shared among all of America’s citizens and not taken for private agendas that reduce the liberty of others.”
Americans United represents over 70,000 individual members and 5,000 churches and other houses of worship nationwide.
“The Oklahoma City Chapter organized this event so that Oklahoma’s citizens can discuss upcoming issues and be ahead of the inevitable curves thrown by those who want to diminish a valuable freedom that is not observed in much of the world,” said Nimmo.
This event is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served.
Loghry said, “Rob Boston could have been anywhere on Constitution Day, but he’s chosen to spend the day in Oklahoma, the land of Hobby Lobby Bible curriculum, the Ten Commandments monument, and other examples of the death of fairness.”
For more information, call James Nimmo at 405-843-3651 or visit okau.org or robertboston.com.