For strong supporters of church/state separation among us, the last couple of decades have been starkly disappointing. Our speaker is Mynga Futrell, AOF vice-president and a fervent advocate for civic pluralism. She counts herself among the most disheartened of citizens, and asks: “Has anyone else been so saddened by the hits our precious establishment clause has been taking? Not to be hyperbolic, but I see the ‘separation wall’ crumbling right before my eyes!” (As if we freethinking types didn’t have enough to worry about nowadays.) She will shed her tears in public at our next AOF meeting, sharing how she has personally marked the recent decline. Perhaps commiseration can be found among AOFers?
Mynga Futrell, a retired science educator, is a founder (1993) and former president (2002) of AOF. She has written articles in Secular Nation and for the California 3Rs Project, developed web resources for public school educators for the Objectivity, Accuracy and Balance in Teaching About Religion Project, and conducted workshops for teachers on “Do’s and Don’ts” of handling religion in the classroom. All such activities of the 1990s and 2000s were grounded in federal law as it existed before recent SCOTUS case decisions. Today’s situation is starting to call into question much of the essential content she had utilized in her work on Different Drummers: Nonconforming Thinkers in History and in Chapter 19 of Teaching about Religion in the Social Studies Classroom (2019), a book chapter she wrote for the National Council of the Social Studies and its only secular perspective on First Amendment issues that the book for teachers explores.