Arlington Agrees that Brick-and-Mortar Church Not Necessary for License to Perform Marriages - Arlington, VA

A Wiccan High Priestess applied for a license to perform marriages in Virginia, but the license was denied because the Priestess did not serve a congregation with its own fixed-address building. AU wrote to the Court Clerk and explained that such a requirement unconstitutionally discriminated against Wiccans and other religious traditions that do not utilize traditional fixed-address congregations. We further pointed out that the requirement was inconsistent with Virginia law. The Priestess reapplied, and the Court Clerk then granted her application.

AU Educates Charter School on Graduation Prayer and Baccalaureate Sponsorship - Ocoee, FL

AU received a complaint that a public charter school’s graduation ceremony featured two prayers delivered by a teacher, and that the school took steps to plan a baccalaureate service, although it did not go through with it. AU wrote to explain that the prayers were unconstitutional and that the school would have violated the Constitution had it held or sponsored a baccalaureate ceremony. The school responded to thank us for the information and to inform us that it had used our letter to update its policies and instruct its staff to no longer engage in these activities.

At AU’s Urging, City Declines to Put Crosses on Street Signs -McAlester, OK

The City of McAlester placed cross displays on several street signs throughout the city, but then removed those displays after concerns were raised regarding separation of church and state. AU learned that the City Council would be considering a petition to return those crosses to its street signs and wrote to the Council to urge it to decline that request. After much deliberation, the Council declined to re-erect the cross displays.

Election-Worker Trainings No Longer Begin With Prayer - Bushnell, FL

The Supervisor of Elections in Bushnell made it a practice to begin election-worker training sessions with a prayer. AU wrote to the Supervisor and informed her that it is unconstitutional for a government employee to include a prayer as part of such a training session. After consultation with attorneys, the Supervisor agreed to stop the prayer practice.

School Agrees that Future Graduations Will Not Include Proselytizing Speeches - Macon County, GA

AU received a complaint that the 2012 graduation ceremony of a county elementary school featured a proselytizing speech delivered by an Assistant Superintendent. Among other things, he noted that the school instills “the love of God” in students; stated “I know I’m not supposed to preach, but I’m a Christian first and an employee second;” and encouraged students to attend church. In response to our letter of complaint, the school system agreed to ensure that future graduations would not feature this type of activity.

Charter School Agrees to Remove Religious Iconography from Rooms used for School Activities - Riverside, CA

A charter school in California was using church property to host some of its official activities, including the administration of standardized tests. The rooms used by the church were replete with religious iconography. AU wrote to the school’s administration to explain that charter schools must follow the same constitutional guidelines as any other public school, and asked them to ensure that students not be exposed to iconography in the future.

School Stops Financial Support for Religious Group - Allentown, PA

A high-school music production class conducted a fundraiser for a local religious homeless-services organization. AU wrote to the school to explain that school-district affiliation with and financial support of a religious organization is unconstitutional. The school agreed to have teachers undertake a more thorough vetting procedure for potential beneficiaries of school fundraisers to ensure that this does not happen again.