Government-Supported Religion

No Religious Symbol Represents Us All

Symbols are important. Religious people and groups use them to communicate messages about belief, solidarity, and belonging. When the government co-opts religious symbols and language of the dominant faith group, it sends an unmistakable message of support and endorsement. It’s a highly visible union of church and state, and it’s wrong.

Government’s first duty is to treat all of its people equally. It can’t do this when it is displaying religious symbols. That’s why the job of erecting and maintaining religious symbols must be left to private individuals and religious entities. It’s simply not a function of government.

What you need to know

The Ten Commandments Aren’t Universal

Government displays of the Ten Commandments are divisive. They are a religious code integral to Judaism and Christianity, but they are written and interpreted differently in those faiths. Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and other religions do not incorporate them in their core beliefs.

Yes, It’s Controversial

The last major poll on religious symbols showed that the majority of Americans think that Christian symbols on government property must be accompanied by those from other faiths, or that no religious displays should be allowed on government property at all.

Government Display of Religious Symbols Secularizes Faith

Some courts have ruled that religious symbols, like a Christian cross, can be used so often by the government that they lose their religious meaning. This should alarm devout people for whom religious symbols are important; secularizing them as public ornaments cheapens faith.


Americans United & the National Women’s Law Center file suit to challenge Missouri’s abortion bans.

Abortion bans violate the separation of church and state. Americans United and the National Women’s Law Center—the leading experts in religious freedom and gender justice—have joined forces with thirteen clergy from six faith traditions to challenge Missouri’s abortion bans as unconstitutionally imposing one narrow religious doctrine on everyone.

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