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ICC Note: On July 7, the group Americans United for Separation of Church and States launched a campaign called “Protect Thy Neighbor.” The campaign seeks to deny religious freedom laws that allow people of faith to opt out of situations that would require them to violate their consciences, such as facilitating abortions or same-sex weddings. The group is widely recognized for its efforts in separating religion from government as seen in the removal of many religious symbols from government property throughout the United States.

By Heather Clark

07/08/2015 United States (Christian News Network) – A prominent church-state separation group led by an ordained United Church of Christ minister has launched a national effort to fight religious freedom laws that seek to provide conscience protections for people of faith.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU) announced its “Protect Thy Neighbor” campaign on Tuesday to combat religious liberty for those who desire to opt-out from scenarios that would require them to facilitate abortion or same-sex “marriage.”

“[We have] unveiled an aggressive, multi-pronged initiative to fight the growing idea that ‘religious freedom’ gives people a right to thwart marriage equality for LGBT Americans, deny women access to reproductive care and use taxpayer dollars to discriminate,” it wrote in a press release.

The group states that it will focus on three areas of activism: lobbying against the passage of any Religious Freedom Restoration Acts on the state level, filing lawsuits to challenge any laws that permit businesses from opting out of facilitating same-sex ceremonies or that allow employees to decline to sell abortifacients, and disseminating information about the “threat” of religious liberty.

AU pointed to its current lawsuit to uphold Obamacare and challenge policies in place at the Roman Catholic University of Notre Dame that it states “threaten the ability of students and staff to access birth control.” It says that it also filed arguments in court to force county clerks in Alabama to issue same-sex “marriage” licenses.

The group points to the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling declaring that all 50 states must legalize same-sex nuptials as leverage for its mission. However, it also notes that a number of states will seeks to create laws to protect people of faith in light of the ruling—and AU consequently aims to thwart these efforts.

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