Religious Freedom Without Favor

Government-Supported Religion

Fighting for religious freedom that does not favor any particular religious belief or practice

Separation of church and state is not anti-religion. It is a shield that protects the rights of everyone, religious or not.

The government should not sponsor prayer, display religious symbols, or fund religious activities, nor should it give houses of worship special exemptions to engage in partisan political activity or ignore public-health measures, putting other people in harm’s way. Doing so favors some faiths over others and religion over non-religion.

When religion is used to justify actions that harm or exclude others, it breaks our social compact, and divides and polarizes our society.

The most important issues we're facing


What You Should Know

Not From the Pulpit

President Trump vowed to “destroy” the Johnson Amendment, which prohibits houses of worship endorsing or opposing political candidates. AU led a coalition that fought to preserve this vital law -- and won.

COVID Didn’t Make Exceptions

At the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, AU filed more than 50 amicus briefs in courts arguing that states could limit in-person gatherings, both secular and religious, to stop the spread of COVID-19 if they treated all gatherings the same.

Religion and Government Don’t Mix

AU contacts scores of municipalities, school boards, state legislatures, and other government bodies every year to stop them from injecting religion into public education, government programs, and public property.

Milestones

  • March 2021

    A federal appeals court correctly ruled that Bremerton School District in Washington State protected students’ religious freedom when it stopped high school football coach Joseph Kennedy from leading students in prayer on the football field immediately after games. AU now represents Bremerton School District in the ongoing appeals process.

    Read more about the Bremerton case

  • August 2020

    An Arizona public school district apologized for turning a district-sponsored staff event into a Christian worship service. On behalf of staff members, AU demanded the apology from the Winslow Unified School District #1 governing board for violating the staff members’ religious freedom.

  • March 2020

    In the first of what would become more than 50 court filings on pandemic public health issues, AU urged the Texas Supreme Court to protect Harris County residents from the spread of COVID-19 by allowing a public health order banning mass gatherings to remain in place without special exemptions for houses of worship or other religious services.

    Find out more about protecting public health during COVID

  • January 2019

    AU launched a broad coalition of civil rights and religious freedom groups to speak out against Project Blitz — a coordinated attempt by religious extremists to enshrine Christian nationalism in state law. Partially due to negative publicity from the coalition, Project Blitz has since gone underground.

    Learn more about Project Blitz

  • 2018

    AU joins with the BJC and other allies to launch Faith Voices, to oppose President Trump’s efforts to repeal the Johnson Amendment, which prohibits nonprofit organizations, including houses of worship from endorsing political candidates. We delivered a letter to Congress from more than 4,500 faith leaders representing a wide variety of religions and denominations across all 50 states.

    Read the letter here

  • May 2014

    The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Town of Greece v. Galloway set new standards for invocations at municipal meetings and made clear that government bodies must not discriminate based on religion. AU represented Jewish and atheist residents of Greece who challenged the town board’s practice of opening public meetings with exclusively Christian prayers.

    An update on Greece, 5 years later

The latest work

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