AU received a complaint about two schools in a Louisiana school district that read prayers over the loudspeaker every morning and included prayers at almost every school event. Our letter to the school district explained that these were egregious constitutional violations and asked the district to put a stop to them. Though we never received a formal response from the district, our complainant and one extremely irate local caller confirmed that the district has stopped the practices.
AU received a complaint regarding two Texas public schools that were holding a student vote on whether or not to include prayer at their graduation ceremonies. Our letter to the district explained that it is unconstitutional for school districts to allow students to vote on this topic and the district agreed, abolishing the prayer vote.
In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Town of Greece v. Galloway, a Roanoke County Supervisor proposed adopting a policy that would allow only Christians to offer prayers at Board of County Supervisors meetings. AU explained to the Board that the Supreme Court does not condone discrimination in prayer-giver selection, and warned the Board that acting on this proposal would violate the Constitution. The remainder of the Board agreed and declined to act on the Supervisor’s proposal.
AU received complaints regarding two activities at a Kansas school district. The first was an assembly about the dangers of texting while driving, where white Latin crosses were distributed to students to symbolize deaths from texting behind the wheel. The second was a local church’s youth-ministry being given access to students for a promotional activity that encouraged students to attend church services. Our letter explained that these activities were unconstitutional and asked that the district refrain from including religious content in school activities in the future.
The coach of a city-sponsored youth-league recreational basketball team required his players to recite the Lord’s Prayer after every practice and game. AU wrote to the City to explain that this practice violated the Constitution, and to ask that the City stop the practice. The City agreed and informed the coach that he would no longer be allowed to include the prayer at this activity.
The Alaska School Activities Association organized and ran wrestling tournaments for all public and some private schools in Alaska. In 2013, the Association held the state wrestling tournament at the campus of a private Christian school and allowed the event to open with a prayer. AU wrote to the Association to explain that its events were legally considered to be public-school events and thus could not begin with prayer. The Association agreed that Association events would no longer open with prayer.
A public-school teacher hung a cross in his sixth-grade classroom. AU wrote to the district to explain that this was a blatant constitutional violation. The district agreed and removed the cross.
The principal of a public high school led students in prayer at an assembly to commemorate the deaths of two of their fellow students, and routinely opened mandatory faculty meetings and staff luncheons with prayer. AU wrote to the school district that these practices were unconstitutional. After an investigation confirmed the facts in our letter, the district informed us that it had provided re-training for the principal to ensure that the behavior would not happen again.
The City of Phoenix partnered with churches and other religious organizations to sponsor Project ROSE, which threatened individuals suspected of prostitution with criminal prosecution if they declined to enroll in a religious program. AU strenuously objected to this program on the grounds that coercing attendance in religious programs under threat of incarceration is a flagrant violation of the separation of church and state. AU eventually learned that the City had backed away from the program and was working with partners to develop an alternative program.
A school district was considering adopting an elective Bible curriculum created by noted evangelical Christian Steve Green. AU wrote to the district to explain that a course devoted solely to Bible study poses significant constitutional risks, and that Green had stated that the curriculum was designed to endorse the Bible’s reliability and inerrancy. After AU’s letter, the school district declined to adopt the program and tabled the proposal.