Let’s start with the good news first. In March the Supreme Court upheld a ruling made by a lower court in an important school prayer case (Borden v. School District of the Township of East Brunswick). A high school football coach in New Jersey had been praying with his team before each game, but the coach argued that his actions – bowing his head and kneeling – did not constitute prayer.
Interfaith Alliance submitted a friend-of-the-court brief in the case, arguing kneeling and bowing one’s head was considered integral to prayer. If the coach’s position was upheld, not only would it violate the separation of church and state, it would strip the act of prayer of its religious significance. Fortunately, our argument won the day, and the case is now concluded.
Finally, Interfaith Alliance is gearing up for a crucial case that will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in a few months (Salazar v. Buono). The Court will decide whether an eight-foot-tall cross erected on public land is unconstitutional. The case is somewhat complicated by the fact that the Bush Administration sold the small segment of land on which the cross stands to a private organization in an attempt to avoid a constitutional showdown. Interfaith Alliance plans to submit a friend-of-the-court brief in this case to reaffirm the principle that the United States is not a Christian nation, and that government property is not the proper place for endorsing religious symbols of any kind.
As blatant as this case is, we nonetheless expect a close vote. We will keep you updated on this critical case and others that impact our religious liberty in the coming months.