One of the pleasures of doing a website on law and religion is that the topic of church and state comes up everywhere nowadays, even the most unexpected places. Let me give an example. I’m a fan of early music – go ahead, laugh if you want to – and look forward every other Thursday to an email from an organization called the Gotham Early Music Scene announcing concerts around New York City. Yesterday’s email had a plug for a “fitting event” for the upcoming “Holiday season,” a fundraiser for Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Americans United is producing a concert of music from the time of Thomas Jefferson, complete with readings from letters between him and his “Parisian paramour” – I’m just quoting the announcement, here – Maria Cosway (left). Jefferson, the promoters remind us, was “the primary architect of the Doctrine of Separation of Church and State.” I’m not sure what any of this has to do with the “Holiday season,” but I suppose secularists need something to do around Christmas, too. Considering that Americans United typically spends its “Holiday season” threatening to sue municipalities that might improperly display a shepherd somewhere, its attempt to cash in on Christmas is a bit ironic. I’m pretty sure Jefferson would have found the whole thing embarrassing. He was always discreet about his relationship with Cosway. She was married.
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FYI, Americans United was approached by Salon/Sanctuary Concerts – the organization holding the event – as a possible beneficiary of some of the box-office proceeds. It is not an AU-sponsored event, though we are looking forward to it. Happy holidays!