A public school’s annual marching-band honors dinner opened with a prayer introduced by the band director and delivered by a student. AU wrote to the school district to explain that the inclusion of prayer at public-school events violates the Constitution. Though the district did not provide a formal response, our complainant went to the first dinner following our letter and reported that there was no prayer.
The City of Wadena was displaying a nativity scene in a public park during the holiday season. AU wrote to the City to explain that governmental display of a solo nativity scene is unconstitutional and to ask that the display be removed. The City complied.
AU received a complaint that an elementary school was taking students on field trips to a creationist museum. We wrote to explain that it is unconstitutional for a public school to teach or endorse creationism or other religious doctrines. The school canceled the field trips.
Escambia County had approved forty thousand dollars in public funds for a gospel concert. AU wrote to explain that the provision of governmental aid to a religious event violates the separation of church and state. In light of the controversy, the concert’s promoters decided not to take the government’s money and to rely instead on private funding.
A County Commissioner informed the press that he would not allow a non-Christian to deliver the invocation at County Commission meetings. AU wrote to the Commission to explain that discrimination in prayer-giver selection is unconstitutional and to ask the Commission to refrain from such discrimination. The Commission agreed and formally adopted a non-discriminatory policy for prayer-giver selection, and thereafter scheduled a Humanist to give an invocation.
The City of Cochran began flying the Christian flag at City Hall as an advertisement for a Bible reading event. After receiving numerous complaints, AU wrote to the City to explain that flying the Christian flag above a government building and endorsing a religious event were violations of the separation of church and state. The City removed the flag.
The choir director of an Ohio public school wrote an opera that he intended to be performed by his class. The opera contained numerous religious references and themes. AU wrote to the school district to explain that it is unconstitutional for a government employee to use a religious opera as a classroom assignment. The school agreed and cancelled the performance. A private group stepped up and directed the opera on private property and during non-school hours.
AU received a complaint that a public-school basketball coach was praying with his players before games. We wrote to the school district, prompting an investigation. The district confirmed the behavior and assured us that it would not continue.
The superintendent of a public school district sent an official email to all district staff, students, and community members inviting them to a prayer event. AU wrote to the district to explain that public-school officials may not use their positions to endorse a religious event or to encourage attendance at a religious event. The district responded, assuring us that it would not promote such religious events in the future.
AU received a complaint regarding a public school’s annual trip to a camp where counselors led attending students in prayer at mealtime. Our letter to the school district explained that it is unconstitutional for the school to allow outsiders to pray with or proselytize students at a school event. The school district agreed and spoke with the camp administration, which agreed to stop the prayers.