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Unfair Dealer: Cleveland Newspaper Attacks AU Over Christian Opera

Americans United’s Legal Department received a complaint recently about a public high school in the town of Willoughby that planned to perform an opera based on Christian concepts.

The opera, “I Am Martol,” was written by Ben Richard, a choral music teacher at South High School. Its plot concerns a sinner who is approached by a messenger from God and given a final chance to repent by accepting the Lord’s message of salvation. The sinner does so and ascends into heaven. In other words, it was the standard evangelical Christian message set to music. Read more

Muslim Inmate Forced To Attend Christian Services

Cuyahoga County, Ohio, jailers threatened a Muslim woman with solitary confinement if she did not attend Christian services while incarcerated, according to a new lawsuit.

Sakeena Majeed, 24, also alleges that other inmates were forced to attend the services, regardless of their religious affiliation, and that officials mocked inmates who did not wish to participate.

“The government can’t tell people which god to pray to, or whether to pray at all,” Majeed’s attorney, Matthew Besser, told Cleveland.com. Read more

AU warns Ohio Governor Over Church-Sponsored Mentoring Program

Ohio officials may not require public school districts to partner with churches and faith-based organizations as a condition of taking part in a tax-funded mentoring program, Americans United said recently.

In a letter sent Dec. 17 to Ohio Gov. John Kasich and other officials, Americans United explained that the Community Connectors program, which provides $10 million in 3-to-1 matching grants, violates the First Amendment because it gives religious organizations priority over secular groups. Read more

Problematic Partnerships: Ohio Initiative Compels Public Schools To Link Up With Churches

Ohio’s public schools are now eligible for a publicly funded mentorship program – but only if they partner with houses of worship and religious charities. Gov. John Kasich (R) recently announced the requirement as a surprise addition to HB 483, which allocated $10 million for the “Community Connectors” program and originally described faith-based partnerships as an option, rather than a mandate, for schools.
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‘You’re Fired!’: At Religious Schools, Employee Rights Are Severely Limited

Let’s say you work as a teacher in a Catholic school in Cincinnati and your old friend, who is gay, invites you to New York to attend his same-sex wedding. You attend and snap some photos of this happy event, which you post on Facebook.

The school can fire you for that.

Let’s say you have another friend who, along with her husband, has struggled to conceive. The couple uses in vitro fertilization and gets good news: They’re going to have a baby. You use Twitter to send a message of congratulations to your friend.

The school can fire you for that. Read more

False Arrest: Ohio Cops’ Play Acting At Church Garners Bad Reviews

And now a quick visit to the “what-could-they-possibly-have-been-thinking?” department.

Police officers in Summit County, Ohio, are in hot water after they agreed to participate in a publicity stunt designed to drum up interest in a play about how difficult it is for pastors to publicly defend the Christian faith. Read more

What’s The Matter With Springboro?: Ohio City Grapples With Religious Right-Dominated School Board

There’s something rotten in the city of Springboro, Ohio. This community of about 17,000 in southwestern Ohio has suddenly become ground zero in a Religious Right-led culture war. What’s happening there should be a cautionary tale to all of us.

In the wake of elections last year, a three-member Tea Party faction now controls the school board. They’re up to no good. Read more

Difficult Lesson: Ohio Teacher Firing Reminds Us That Religious Schools Play By Different Rules

By all accounts, Carla Hale was a dedicated and popular teacher who loved her job.

Yet when she showed up for work a few weeks ago, Hale was summoned into an administrator’s office and subjected to a grilling. Not long after that, she was summarily fired from her position at a Clintonville, Ohio, high school. Read more

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