Voices of Reason: Church and State in the Obama Era

Tuesday, October 27th 2009 at 6:30 pm
Tuesday, October 27th 2009 at 8:30 pm
All Souls Unitarian Church, 1157 Lexington Avenue (between 79th and 80th Streets)

Our fall Voices of Reason series turns its attention to a subject that’s very much on the minds of secularists—what has, and has not, changed in the relationship between government and religion since the election of President Barack Obama. Rob Boston , assistant communications director for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and the Rev. Edwin Sanders , senior servant of the Metropolitan Interdenominational Church of Nashville, Tennessee and a U.S. government consultant on HIV/AIDS programs around the world, will join Susan Jacoby , author of “The Age of American Unreason,” for a freewheeling panel discussion followed by a question-and-answer session.

How has the Obama administration’s close ties to liberal religion affected Bush administration policies that were derived from right-wing religious principles?  Are close ties between government and liberal religion any better than close ties between government and conservative religion? Are faith-based social programs that allow proselytizing still being funded? Do secularists have more of a place at the table in this administration than they did in the previous administration? These are just a few of the provocative issues that will be discussed by the following speakers:

Rob Boston is an editor of AU’s Church and State magazine, a major forum for discussion of issues ranging from the teaching of evolution in public schools to government-financed faith-based initiatives. He is the author of “Why the Religious Right is Wrong About Separation of Church and State” (Prometheus Books) and a frequent contributor to Free Inquiry magazine.

Rev. Edwin Sanders , who has served on the Centers for Disease Control’s advisory panel on HIV/AIDS, has been on outspoken opponent of government programs that depend solely on abstinence to halt the spread of AIDS, both within the United States and across the nation. He has served on the boards of the National Center for Primary Care, the National Black Leadership task force on AIDS, and the Drug Policy Alliance. Sanders has spoken about AIDS prevention in many countries and on many continents, including areas of sub-Saharan Africa where AIDS is rampant. He has also been in a leader in efforts to increase the involvement of African-American churches in human sexuality and AIDS prevention issues. 

Susan Jacoby , also the author of “Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism” and program director of the Center for Inquiry-New York City, will moderate the panel discussion and the question-and-answer session to follow. 

Wine-and-canapé reception at 6:30; event 7 p.m. Admission is free and open to the public.