Delaware Valley AU Chapter President Ed Joyce sends his summary of what DVAU accomplished in 2012, and how you can help us keep church and state separate in 2013. Thank you for your support!
The year 2012 was a busy one for DVAU. I want to take this opportunity at year’s end to high-light some of the ways in which we put your generous support to good use in 2012.
Winter Gala Fundraiser and Social: First off, I wish to extend a hearty thanks to those supporters who attended our event on Rittenhouse Square on December 1. Those who did not attend missed an excellent solo piano performance by DVAU member Laurent Levy and a fun wine and cheese social! We’ll do it again next year so don’t miss it.
Scholarship Fundraiser: At our Winter Gala event we announced the kick-off of a drive to fund two scholarships to area high school students. We feel strongly that AU has a mandate to insure that the wisdom of church/state separation is passed on to future generations. And what better way is there to accomplish this than through a scholarship. To date, we’ve had two generous donations of $1000 and $500. Please visit our website (dvau.org) and help support this worthy cause.
Legislative Concerns: Legislatively, two toxic resolutions were passed by PA representatives: HR 535 which proclaimed 2012 the Year of the Bible and HR 922 proclaiming October as a month of prayer. If our first amendment means anything, it means that government should not be in the business of making religious proclamations. Measures like these are clearly unconstitutional and have the effect of marginalizing minority religions. In response, DVAU mounted a letter writing campaign to house representatives and we have spoken out about these bills at meetings. We’ve also, been working with Rep. Mark Cohen (D-Philadelphia) to come up with a strategy to help insure that these sorts of resolutions don’t become legislatively habitual.
Stealth Evangelism: This issue shows no signs of letting up in spite of actions taken by concerned citizens and DVAU. Stealth Evangelism is short-hand for a push by evangelic Christian groups, most notably the Good News Club, to gain access to young school children. They tout themselves to school administrators as after school programs aimed at instilling children with morals and good behavior. But as it turns out, their real mission is to proselytize. DVAU has been vigorously speaking out against this activity by holding four workshops to provide parents and concerned citizens with the tools to address this concern. A lecture on this topic by author Katherine Stewart is scheduled for January 28, 7 pm, at the Ethical Society Building on Rittenhouse Square. A workshop will also be held in early February. Keep an eye on our website for details.
Clergy Advisory Board (CAB): This year saw the coming together of DVAU’s CAB. The chapter’s CAB is made up of six local clergy who advise the board of directors on religious matters. The CAB hosted two events for religious leaders and members of the clergy this year with the intent of increasing clergy awareness of, and sensitivity to, church/state related issues. Furthermore, two of our 2012 chapter meetings were led by CAB members. Dr. Glenn Booker spoke on Wicca and other nature religions and their interaction with the separation of religion and government. At our December chapter meeting the Reverend Thomas Beers, Pastor, Central Baptist Church, Wayne, PA spoke on “Thoughts on Religious Freedoms.”
Miscellany: In addition to our regularly scheduled monthly meetings, DVAU hosted a very well attended presentation by author Katherine Stewart at the Parkway Central Library in Philadelphia. Katherine spoke about her new book “The Good News Club.” I was interviewed by ROJS radio which gave me the opportunity to speak out on a wide range of church/state issues. Also, in keeping with our efforts to reach-out to colleges, I spoke to the Princeton University Society of Humanists on the “Evolution Controversy and its Church/State Implications.” In October, I had the pleasure to lead a discussion of “Current Church/State Issues” at the Tiferes B’nai Israel synagogue in Warrington, PA.
Outreach: Through tabling at local community events, DVAU helped educate the public about how church/state separation affects their rights. Once again, we were proud supporters of Equality Forum, Philly Pride, South Jersey Pride, and Outfest. We also met lots of students at Philadelphia’s College Day. We’re always looking for tabling opportunities, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with details of events where our message should be shared.
Visibility: The DVAU Chapter was instrumental in helping to organize and promote the April 28, 2012 rallies against the “War on Women.” DVAU Vice-President Janice Rael led the Trenton NJ rally, and we sent a speaker to the rally in Harrisburg. DVAU also protested against a Religious Right rally in Philadelphia in June. Photos of many DVAU events can be found on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/delvalau
In Conclusion: DVAU relies on you to be active in defending Church/State separation. If you see a problem in your community, please contact us. Speak out on behalf of separation of church & state in your community. Write letters to the editor. Let your legislatures know how you feel about religious freedom issues. Share church/state news on our Facebook wall, or Tweet stories to us @delvalau on Twitter. If you are an AU member don’t forget to renew – if you’re not a member please consider joining. There is much you can do to help!
Thanks again for your support and best wishes for the New Year!
Ed Joyce, President
Your tax-deductible gift to the DVAU Chapter goes directly to the chapter’s activities and programs. Please help us maintain the wall of separation between church and state by making a donation today. http://dvau.org/?page_id=33
Save the date for DVAU’s next Church/State Issues Symposium, April 20, 2013 at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia PA. Our keynote speaker will be Americans United’s Reverend Barry Lynn.