Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Report on AU Lobbying Efforts

On opening day of the Tennessee Legislature, a day of socialization, families, lobbyists, media - but also the day that significant actions are taken - six members of Nashville Chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State went to visit offices of legislators. We had planned to have three teams of two and divide 35 legislators among us.

Unfortunately chapter president Cliff Fiedler couldn't stay because he was in great pain from a neck and arm problem. However, he had stayed up until four in the morning baking cookies for the legislators. We had ordered 72 coffee mugs to be imprinted with the AU logo, "Religious Liberty," chapter and national web site, and organization name.

We had white gift bags on which we put "Keep Church and State Separate" stickers, Mugs were stuffed with packets of M&Ms and cookies, and bags received a piece of literature explaining Americans United as well as a news release on the court injunction stopping South Carolina's theocratic license plate. (We had hoped to put in copies of the January Church & State, but some postal problem precluded this.)

We were fortunate to have as our organizer the legislative maven, Alma Sanford, who knows ALL the legislators. We set off on our expedition and were fortunate enough to catch some legislators and many staff. We decided to concentrate only on our county and the surrounding contiguous ones - sort of our domain. We also hit the leadership of the legislature. How was our reception? I would say always very courteous but not always convinced to vote along the lines we might like. In fact, my list happened to be all Republicans. We were shown the Ten Commandments posted in one representative's legislative office (ok with me), and my senator told us he is mostly opposed to our positions.

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