AU received a complaint that the Oconoee County Council regularly opens its meetings with Christian prayer. Despite complaints from local citizens, and against the advice of the County’s attorney, the Council refused to change this practice. One Council member — a reverend who often delivers the sectarian prayers — declared that he hoped objectors would bring a legal challenge to the prayers. AU wrote a letter to the County Council, explaining that the U.S.
AU learned that the Federal Bureau of Prisons had issued a solicitation seeking proposals for the provision of single-faith, residential re-entry programs at six federal prisons. The solicitation created a preference for religious programs and organizations over secular ones; created a preference for instruction in a single faith over multi-faith programming; appeared designed to favor one particular religious organization; and contained no prohibitions against the use of federal funds to support religious activity. AU wrote a letter in April 2006 to the Attorney General and to the Direct
AU received a complaint that the Milwaukee Women’s Correctional Center had scheduled a mandatory meeting for all inmates with representatives from Prison Fellowship Ministries. Prison Fellowship Ministries is the Evangelical Christian organization that operates the Innerchange Freedom Initiative prison rehabilitation program that AU successfully challenged in Iowa. AU wrote to the prison to advise officials that coercing inmates to attend religious programs violates the Establishment Clause.
AU received complaints regarding plans for some Warren County School District teachers to pray with students during a “See You at the Pole” event. AU wrote a letter to the school district, informing officials that, although students may gather in a group for prayer on school grounds before the school day, it is unconstitutional for teachers, staff, or other District employees to participate in or promote the event.
In July 2006, AU wrote a letter to the town of Greenfield objecting to the town’s renting its meeting house to a church for $1200 per year — a price significantly below market value — while simultaneously charging town residents who wished to use the first floor of the meeting house $60 per use. At that time, in anticipation of the 2009 expiration of its current lease, the church had submitted a new proposed lease to the Board of Selectmen, which, if approved, would have run for twenty-five years with an option to renew for ninety-nine additional years. Urging the Board to reject the chu
AU successfully resolved a decade-long dispute between the Texas Comptroller’s Office and the North Texas Church of Freethought over a religious tax exemption.
AU learned that the Roseville Joint Union High School District planned to relocate Roseville High School’s June commencement ceremony from its usual venue — the school’s football stadium — to the Adventure Christian Church. The decision was made to accommodate plans to replace the turf at the field. AU wrote a letter to school officials, informing them that holding the graduation in a church would be unconstitutional, and encouraging them to delay the renovations to the football stadium for two weeks so that the ceremony could take place there.
AU learned that Western Brown High School had a practice of including prayer at its annual graduation ceremonies. In May 2005, pastors from the local Church of Christ and First Baptist Church delivered an invocation and a benediction at the high school’s commencement ceremony. In an effort to prevent a repeat of the Establishment Clause violation during the high school’s May 2006 graduation, AU wrote a letter to school officials informing them that any prayer — whether offered by a school official, outside clergy, or a student — is impermissible at public-school graduations.
AU received a complaint from a local citizen regarding the City’s 2006 National Day of Prayer Celebration. City officials used city resources to organize and promote the prayer. AU wrote a letter to the City, informing officials that, while they have the right to participate in their individual capacities in National Day of Prayer events, the Establishment Clause bars them from using their public employment or public resources to sponsor such activities. Subsequent monitoring of the City indicates that officials have ceased their impermissible involvement with these events.
AU received a complaint from a San Antonio resident who was upset about the City Council’s use of Christian invocations to open regular meetings. The prayers often invoked Jesus and included other references to Christianity. AU wrote a letter to the City Council, informing members that the sectarian prayers are unconstitutional. The complainant has reported to AU that invocations delivered since that time have been nonsectarian.