The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) regulates employee-benefit plans to protect the interests of employees who participate in the plans. To avoid undue governmental intrusion in church affairs, the Act provides an exemption for plans established by churches. Some non-church entities have begun to claim this exemption.
A Pennsylvania public school invited kindergarten parents to visit the classroom and share a talent, game, craft, or story with the class. A parent named Donna Busch wanted to read a Bible passage to the kindergarten students; the school denied her request.
Busch then sued in federal court, alleging that the school violated her First Amendment by prohibiting her from reading the Bible to the kindergarten class. After the trial court dismissed her lawsuit, Busch appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
For years, East Brunswick High School football coach Marcus Borden led his team in prayers before games. After school district officials instructed him to stop doing so, he filed a lawsuit against the school district in federal court in New Jersey. He stopped leading the prayers, but he instructed the team captains to set up a voting system for the team prayer and joined in the players' prayers.