July/August 2014 Church & State | AU Bulletin

The U.S. Supreme Court last month announced that it will not hear an appeal of a lower court’s ruling striking down a Wisconsin school district’s use of an evangelical mega-church to hold commencement ceremonies.

Americans United, which brought the legal challenge on behalf of anonymous plaintiffs, hailed the court’s action.

“This case should serve as a warning to public schools that it’s not appropriate to hold important ceremonies like graduation in a religious setting,” said Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United.

The Elmbrook School District had sought review of a July 2012 decision in which a 10-judge panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 7-3 in favor of Americans United. AU filed the suit in 2009 on behalf of nine students, parents and graduates of the school district.

At the graduations, students received diplomas underneath an immense Christian cross. Parents and children sat in pews filled with Bibles, hymnals, and church promotional cards that asked them whether they “would like to know how to become a Christian.” The church’s lobby was filled with evangelical pamphlets and postings. (Doe v. Elmbrook School District)