A high-school teacher displayed two items in his public-school classroom: a nativity scene and a doll of the Grinch. During class he pointed to the nativity and declared that it was for those who shared his Christian faith, and then pointed to the Grinch and said that it was for all those who did not. AU wrote a letter of complaint that explained that it is unconstitutional for a public-school teacher to erect religious displays and to make disparaging comments about minority religions.
AU received a complaint that the principal of an elementary school in Houma, Louisiana began an open-house event with prayer. The principal agreed to put a stop to the inclusion of prayers at future school events after AU sent a letter of complaint.
The City of San Antonio provided funds to a private contractor to create a tower to serve as a marker for the entrance of Texas A&M’s San Antonio campus, and Texas A&M agreed to allow its seal to be displayed on the tower. When built, the tower featured three crosses on each face, just above Texas A&M’s seal. AU wrote to the City and Texas A&M, explaining that it is unconstitutional for the government to affiliate itself with religion by financing a building that displays religious iconography and by associating a public university’s seal with that iconography.
Upon entering the Broome County Jail, visitors were confronted with a statue of Jesus Christ. AU wrote to the Broome County Sheriff’s Office, which manages the Jail, and explained that it is unconstitutional for the government to erect such religious displays on government property. The Sheriff’s Office removed the statue.
The Flippin School District required all middle- and high-school students to attend an assembly featuring a group of former athletes calling themselves Crossfire. The group described their personal salvation through Jesus Christ and invited the students to an after-school religious event. AU objected to this assembly, explaining that it is unconstitutional for the school to allow outsiders to proselytize students or use a school assembly to invite students to a religious event.
The Warren County Parks and Recreation Department had published a schedule of fees for the rental and use of park facilities. The fees were cheaper for churches than for everyone else. AU wrote to the Department to explain that it is a constitutional violation to provide preferential pricing for religious organizations, and to ask that everyone be treated equally. The Parks and Recreation Department then ended the preferential pricing.
A public charter school was holding its graduation ceremonies in a church sanctuary that featured several religious symbols. AU wrote a letter to school officials explaining that it is unconstitutional to hold a public school’s graduation ceremony in a church. The principal responded and said that they were unable to move this year’s graduation ceremony because of time constraints, but agreed that they would cover the crosses and other religious iconography and that they would use a secular venue for future graduations.
AU learned that a public-school district in California decided to allow the senior class at the high school to vote on whether prayer would be included at the graduation ceremonies. We wrote to district officials to explain that public schools cannot include prayers as part of public high-school graduations, whether by vote or otherwise. We received a response letting us know that the school district revoked their previous decision and instituted a moment of silence in lieu of a prayer.
AU received a complaint about a public-school teacher who was praying with her kindergarten students at snack time, displayed a picture of Jesus on her desk, and hung on classroom walls posters featuring prayers. We wrote to school officials explaining that it is unconstitutional for teachers to pray with their students or for them to display religious messages or symbols in the classroom. The district responded, assuring us that they had instructed the teacher to stop praying with students and to remove the religious displays from the classroom.