A Forum on Church/State Separation:Listening, Asking, Networking, and Noshing!

An Evening to Remember

On July 10th the NorthEast Ohio Chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU) held a Forum – in the moot court room at CWRU School of law – titled: “Why the Failure to keep Religion out of Politics Hurts us all.”

We began and ended this classy event with a nice catered spread in the rotunda.

In the Rotundra : Prof Singham,Matt Marshall, Elise Helgesen, and Mallory Ullman.
In the Rotundra : Prof Singham,Matt Marshall, Elise Helgesen, and Mallory Ullman.

The premise of our Forum was that protecting the Establishment Clause means more than merely keeping sectarian prayer out of City Council meetings and nativity scenes off of city property: religion has been and is currently used against science, gay rights, contraception, and to impose religion in public schools.

Speakers included:

Prof. Mano Singham — Dept of Physics, CWRU – why actual science is important in legislation.
Piet van Lier — Policy Matters Ohio – impact of charter schools on educational funding.
Elise Helgesen Aguilar — Americans United DC Office – who we are, what we do, and why we are important.
Mallory McMaster Ullman — NARAL Pro Choice Ohio – the egregious anti-women legislation in Ohio.

Ms Ullman, Ms. Helgesen. Mr. van Lier, and Prof Singham
Ms Ullman, Ms. Helgesen. Mr. van Lier, and Prof Singham


Ms. Helgesen spoke first, presenting on who AU is, what we do, what we have done, and what we aren’t – an anti-religious organization.

Mr. van Lier covered the aspects of education vouchers in Cleveland and in Ohio.  He noted that test results do not show charter schools out performing public schools (in similar demographics).

Prof. Singham – demonstrated the egregious intrusion of dogma on legislation –  played several clips from US House hearings in which several of our election officials asserted that the Bible was superior to science.  E.G.:  “No need to be concerned with Climate Change – the world will end when god decides so”.

Ms. Ullman detailed some of the recent  legislation signed into law by Gov. Kasich impacts the availability of contraception and abortion availability, and legislates how physicians practice ob/gyn procedures.

Ms Helgesen then summarized the presentations, and a fruitful and informative question and answer session followed.


We then talked and finished the food: networking and noshing.

To demonstrate that we are not all dullards, some of us continued at NightTown.




A big thank you to all who attended, to all our speakers, to CWRU for making the room available, and to the AU National Office for making Elise available (we provided a lot of hospitality)  – and to all of our speakers. Perhaps the weather kept attendance  down, but for those who came, it was indeed ,an Evening to Remember.

(N.B.: Several of the photos are courtesy of the Cleveland Free Thinkers.)

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