Barry W. Lynn

I was interested in the question of the power of religious organizations to effect public policy in a negative way. When I was in college, and I found out at that time the Catholic Church was in such control of everything in communities, including in progressive places like New York – that a roommate of mine was not able to obtain an abortion with his girlfriend, even in places like New York. What I learned at that moment was the extraordinary clout that religious organizations can have to impose their theological views on others. And I found it exasperating and dangerous.

I think one of the great strengths of Americans United is that it has such diversity. That it has not only people who have no religious belief, but lots of people who do and who take that belief very seriously. And I think that provides us with a great opportunity to talk about the separation of church and state. There are plenty of other groups, and some of them are quite good at what they do, but they also have an agenda of non-theism, but we don’t have, you might say, a theology. We just have a commitment to the Constitution.

I think fundamentally, the real power behind the anti-choice movement in regard to abortion and the opposition to the rights of LGBT Americans is fundamentally religious. I know that there are people who are secularists who have problems with the rights of gay people and problems with reproductive choice, but frankly those people are few in number.