On July 19 the Robertson-led group issued a press release asserting that "The organization calling itself Americans United for
Separation of Church and State has engaged in a blatant campaign of intimidating not only pastors but individual voters who choose to be active in the political process.
Jesse Helms, Right-Wing Senators Seek Criminal Investigation Of Americans United For Opposing Church-Based Partisan Politicking
Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), Paul Coverdell (R-Ga.), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), Don Nickles (R-Okla.) and Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.) contacted Attorney General Janet Reno, seeking a criminal investigation of Americans United for allegedly trying to "intimidate" religious voters from going to the polls.
Lynn noted that neither Helms, nor any of the other five senators who requested the criminal investigation, ever contacted Americans United for information about the group's activities.
"We are concerned by the enclosed Congressional Quarterly report suggesting that Americans United for Separation of Church and State may interfere with the Coalition's lawful activities ...," the senators' letter said.
Lynn said he is confident that the four-story, brick building will serve Americans United for
many years to come.
Calling Lynn "the ACLU's handpicked mouthpiece at the so-called `Americans United for
the Separation of Church and State,'" Tate wrote, "The question for you as a pastor is this: Are you going to let the anti-religious agenda of the ACLU and Barry Lynn keep you from `feeding your flock'?
In special videotaped remarks, Kennedy thanked Americans United for its work and credited the organization with helping create a more tolerant America.
"For 50 years" said the Massachusetts senator, "Americans United for Separation of Church and State has been a skillful, tireless and indispensable ally in the ongoing struggle to protect religious liberty....All Americans are in your debt on this auspicious 50th anniversary occasion."
Such was the birth of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.
AJC attorney Leo Pfeffer worked closely with Americans United for many years.
At that time, the organization's full name was "Protestants and Other Americans United for Separation of Church and State," and it was frequently known by the acronym POAU.
The document goes on, however, to promise a movement that will "embrace all Americans, whatever their faith may be." (By the mid 1960s, the organization was usually referred to simply as "Americans United." The name was changed officially to Americans United for Separation of Church and State on April 1, 1972.)
August 4 was a routine business day at Americans United for Separation of Church and State -- until the middle of the afternoon.
Nickles might have a special reason to single out Americans United for harassment.