Indivisible: Conejo’s Separation of Church and State Issue Action Team is committed to fighting for the preservation of First Amendment protections against both the establishment of a state religion and discrimination based on religious belief. To that end, we will:
- Track the various forms of “religious freedom” legislation and orders being introduced by Congress, or proposed by the Trump/Pence administration, and lobby with our members of Congress against such legislation;
- Participate in meetings of the CVUSD school board and Thousand Oaks city council, as necessary, particularly when church/state issues arise;
- Monitor and “shadow” officials who have shown themselves likely to create church/state conflicts within our local government bodies, keeping track of their words & actions inside and outside their government work;
- Engage in voter education on church/state issues via letters to the editor, and via other means as determined;
- Familiarize ourselves with the work of groups that already engage in church/state advocacy, such as People for the American Way and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State.
The Trump administration and the Republican Congress promise new and dangerous threats to the principle of Separation of Church and State, enshrined in the Constitution via the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause and ingrained in the nation’s laws by multiple court decisions through the decades.
- Trump has said he will “destroy” the Johnson Amendment, which prohibits churches that operate with tax-exempt status from directly participating in a political campaign on behalf of, or in opposition to, a particular candidate.
- Numerous members of Congress have promised to “go national” with the type of “religious freedom” laws – granting “conscience exemptions” to individuals and businesses that wish to discriminate against LGBTQ citizens, Muslims and others on religious grounds – that have created such controversy in states like Indiana. (Current VP Mike Pence signed such a law, then was forced to rescind much of it after an avalanche of boycotts and criticism).
- Here in the Conejo Valley, a CVUSD trustee repeatedly has attempted to impose his values on students via censorship attempts and other means. Meanwhile, a Thousand Oaks City Council member also serves as a leader of the American Renewal Project (http://theamericanrenewalproject.org) -- an organization that seeks to fill America’s political offices with evangelical-Christian ministers.