AU received a complaint about a Buddhist stupa that was displayed at the Petroglyph National Monument. The stupa was on the land when the land was purchased by the federal government, and had been maintained there since. AU asked that the stupa be moved to private property. The Department of the Interior investigated and concluded that the display of the stupa on government land was unconstitutional. The government accordingly transferred the stupa to the Albuquerque Buddhist community.
AU received a complaint regarding a program under which Multnomah County judges—as part of a joint venture between the court, the County District Attorney’s office, and the City of Portland—conditioned criminal offenders’ eligibility for probation on attendance of meetings with local pastors. In response to our letter, the program was expanded so that offenders are now provided the opportunity to meet with a variety of individuals, including non-religious community members, and all participants are prohibited from proselytizing as part of the program.
The City of St. Charles organized, funded, and advertised a Christmas Festival that included a live re-enactment of the story of Christ’s birth. AU wrote to the City to explain that City sponsorship of this religious activity is unconstitutional and to ask that the City remove the activity from the Festival. Although the City did not remove the re-enactment entirely, it did revoke all government funding of the event and took steps to clarify that the re-enactment was sponsored by a private group and not by the City.
The DinoSpace Museum in Camdenton, MO is a creationist-themed “science” museum geared towards children. AU learned that an army-run school for children of soldiers stationed at Fort Leonard Wood took a field trip to the museum. We wrote a letter of complaint about this event. The Army Installation Management command informed us that the organizers of the field trip were not aware of the museum’s focus before the trip and agreed that no future field trips would be made to the museum. They also agreed to be more careful in evaluating future field-trip locations.
AU received a complaint about a large cross, inscribed with the phrase “Jesus Saves,” that stood on public land at the entrance to the Town of Dugger. We wrote to the town to explain that it is unconstitutional for the town to display a religious symbol and message on government property. The Town organized an auction and sold the property, at fair market value, to a private party.
The Strength Team participated in an assembly hosted by an elementary school. They used the assembly as an opportunity to invite students to an after-school church event. AU wrote to the school to explain that allowing the Strength Team to use an official school event to solicit student participation in a religious activity violates the Establishment Clause. The school did not respond to our letter, but there have been no further such assemblies.
High-school track coaches wore to a track meet t-shirts adorned with the logo of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (which contains a Latin cross) alongside the name of the school. AU wrote to the school to explain that it is unconstitutional for public-school employees to promote a religious organization. The school investigated and explained that the shirts had been worn on only one occasion because they were a bright color and were intended to help students locate the coaches. The school assured us it would not happen again.
AU received complaints about a number of issues at the Irving Independent School District, such as district sponsorship of a baccalaureate ceremony. After receiving AU’s letter of complaint, the school conducted an investigation and addressed AU’s concerns, putting a stop to the sponsorship of the baccalaureate, among other things.
The Perry County Quorum Court routinely opened its meetings with sectarian prayer. AU wrote to them to explain that such prayer was unconstitutional, and the Quorum Court agreed to instead open meetings with a moment of silence and recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.
A high-school junior-varsity baseball coach solicited and participated in student-led prayer before games. AU wrote to the school to explain that it is unconstitutional for public-school officials to solicit prayer from students or to participate in prayer with students. The school investigated the matter and spoke with coaches about constitutional requirements. AU has not received any further reports of misconduct.