President Trump has talked repeatedly about building a wall on the US border with Mexico, but he's been mum on the institutional wall he's been tearing down: the separation of church and state.
That's part of the message that Barry Lynn, the retiring executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, will be bringing to Rochester later this month.
"Trump and his administration are systematically destroying the institution that makes democracy possible," Lynn said in a recent phone interview.
Lynn will be delivering a talk at 7 p.m. on Monday, October 23, at Asbury First United Methodist Church, 1050 East Avenue. His topic: "The Trump Administration Really, Truly Hates Separation of Church and State." The event, which is sponsored by the local Americans United chapter, is free and open to the public.
Trump's strongest support has come from the Religious Right, and while his support has fallen among other groups that voted for him, Lynn says, evangelicals still firmly back him. And Trump is responding to an irrational belief that their religious freedom is under attack. As the latest example, Lynn cited the administration's recent decision to no longer require employers to offer health care plans that include free contraception for women.
"There is some religious persecution going on in America," Lynn said, "but it has nothing to do with Christianity, which is alive and very healthy.".
Lynn's biggest concern is the real possibility that Trump will stack the Supreme Court with ultra conservatives.
"We would have a wretched country," he said, "one where you would not be able to practice religious freedom unless it was the accepted religion, unless you were an evangelical Christian."