Starting in 2007, the Enfield Public Schools (located just north of Hartford, Connecticut) began holding the Schools’ two high-school graduations in the sanctuary of a Christian church, the First Cathedral. An enormous white cross sits atop the Cathedral’s roof, dominating the skyline as one approaches. To enter the building for graduations, students and their guests pass under another large cross in the Cathedral’s facade.
The Douglas County Board of Education has created a “Pilot Choice Scholarship Plan,” through which the Douglas County School District has authorized 500 students to use state, per-pupil educational funds that are earmarked for the public school system as vouchers to attend private schools. Most of the participating “Private School Partners” are religious, and these participating schools may discriminate on the basis of religion in both hiring and admissions.
The Florida Constitution prohibits the state from using taxpayer money to fund religious organizations or programs. During its 2011 session, the Florida legislature proposed an amendment to the Florida Constitution that not only would repeal this strict prohibition on public funding of religious institutions, but would also forbid Florida government bodies from denying public funding to religious institutions unless the U.S. Constitution prohibited the funding. The proposed amendment will become law if it is approved by Florida voters in the November 2012 general election.
For the first time, the U.S. Supreme Court considered whether and to what extent the First Amendment requires a "ministerial exception" to the federal employment-discrimination laws. A teacher at a religious school filed a lawsuit alleging that she was fired after asserting her rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Late in 2006, the Dixie County Commission allowed a local resident to install a five-foot, six-ton granite Ten Commandments monument on the steps of the county courthouse. The monument -- which has the phrase “LOVE GOD AND KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS” chiseled into its base -- is the only object on the courthouse steps and is visible from the street.
The City of San Diego leases large parcels of prime parkland to the Boy Scouts of America at nominal rates. The Boy Scouts discriminate in membership and employment against atheists and agnostics by requiring scouts and leaders to profess a belief in God. A federal trial court held that the leases were unconstitutional because the Boy Scouts are a religious organization and San Diego’s leasing process was not neutral. The Boy Scouts appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.