AU learned that the Camp Verde Parks and Recreation Department allowed a cross to be displayed on the wall at a city-owned community-center basketball court. AU wrote to explain that the display of a lone cross on city property is unconstitutional and to request the removal of the cross. Camp Verde’s Town Manager agreed that the display was unconstitutional and removed the cross from the wall. The cross is owned by a religious group that rents out space in the community center once a week.
AU received a complaint that a Social Studies teacher at Raytown Middle School told a student that the events of the Bible were historical truth and that the school’s social studies textbook, World History, Journey Across Time: The Early Ages, contained inappropriate religious material. We wrote to the school district to inform them that it is unconstitutional for public-school teachers to present the Bible to public-school students as religious truth.
The Boone County Board of Education hosts an annual awards ceremony for students. AU received a complaint that this event began with a prayer delivered by a Board member and that some members of the Board, when confronted by a parent about the prayer, responded in a hostile fashion. We wrote to the Board explaining that the prayer was unconstitutional and chastising the Board for its hostile response to a legitimate constitutional concern. A member of the Board who supports the separation of church and state contacted us and assured us that the matter would be dealt with.
AU received a complaint that students at the Wyoming Area Secondary Center — a public high-school — were slated to deliver prayers at the school’s graduation ceremony and that the school district had played a role in organizing, promoting, and encouraging students to attend a baccalaureate ceremony. We wrote a letter to school district officials explaining that the presentation of prayers at public-school graduations, and the school’s sponsorship of baccalaureate ceremonies, are unconstitutional.
Southeastern High School had a practice of including a prayer at its graduation ceremony. AU wrote a letter to the school explaining that school-sponsored prayer at graduation is unconstitutional. Shortly after receipt of our letter, the school discontinued its prayer practice.
Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) policy requires high schools to hold graduations at secular venues. AU learned that students at Montgomery Blair High School had received a survey asking them to rank five potential graduation venues, one of which was a large church. The survey emphasized the amenities of the church and made it appear more desirable than the four secular options. AU wrote to the school district to explain that holding public-school graduations in a church is unconstitutional, and to support MCPS’s current policy.
For several years, La Crosse County has contracted with the Salvation Army to provide shelter services to the homeless and the mentally ill. AU received complaints that, at its shelter facility, the Salvation Army regularly held religious services and presented prayers and sermons at meals. We sent a letter to the county explaining that the Constitution prohibits public funds from being used to support any program that includes religious activity, much less one that requires participants to partake of that activity.
AU received a complaint that an employee of the Anderson County Clerk’s Office hung two religious poems in her work area. The poems were positioned so that any client transacting business was certain to see them. We wrote a letter to the County Clerk, explaining that religious displays in a government office posed serious constitutional concerns, and asking that the poems be removed. Shortly thereafter, the religious displays were taken down.
A math teacher at Adena High School displayed proselytizing Christian pamphlets beside the pencil sharpener in his classroom, played Christian worship songs during class, and used a copy of the Bible as a hall-pass. In response to a complaint about this behavior, AU sent a letter to the school district, explaining that it is unconstitutional for teachers to proselytize to students, to distribute religious materials to students, or to erect religious displays in public-school classrooms.
AU received a complaint that a science teacher at William Ellis Middle School maintained a website that endorsed "creation science." The school’s official website linked directly to the teacher’s site, which also contained updated homework assignments, supply lists, and frequently asked questions — indicating that the content of the website was approved by the school.