Are Faith-Based Dorms at Public Universities Legal?

Troy University in Alabama has a very religious student body (shocking, I tell you).

So they’re about to open a 376-bed dorm at a cost of $11,800,000 that will give preference to religious students:

The new facility gives preference to students who maintain an active spiritual lifestyle and are actively engaged in a campus faith-based organization.

Residents are required to engage at least semi-annually in a community-service or service-learning project that is tied to a church, such as food or clothing drive.

The building will also house a (Catholic) Newman Center, as well as three Catholic and three Baptist resident assistants.

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U.S. Postal Service Under Fire from Christians and Atheists

The United States Postal Service can’t catch a break. They’ve managed to piss off Christians and atheists, for different reasons.

The first problem — which is totally not a problem at all — involved a new ad campaign aimed at promoting priority mail services that are available online.

The campaign’s name? “In Priority We Trust

Christians were apparently angry that another word had replaced “God” in the U.S. motto.

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Cullman County School District in Alabama Is the Site of Even More Violations of Church/State Separation

Just the other day, I posted about a “prayer caravan” organized by Cullman County Schools (Alabama) Superintendent Billy Coleman. The idea was that he would lead a group of people to all the schools in the district and pray… becauseI guess that raises test scores in Alabama or something. They’ve been doing this for a few years running.

We also learned from the Freedom From Religion Foundation (PDF) that the caravan wasn’t the school’s only violation of the law:

We were also informed that schools in the Cullman County system recite the Lord’s Prayer over the loudspeaker each morning. We understand that an attempt to mask this illegal practice is made by giving students “the option” to participate.

So why bring this all up again?

Because FFRF has learned that they’ve only hit the tip of the iceberg when it comes to violations of church/state separation in the district:

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A Principal Allowed Her to Deliver Bible Readings on School Property Every Morning This Past Spring

I teach at a public high school and the visitor policy works like this: If you’re not a student or staff member, you must sign in at the front desk, show identification, and declare the intent of your visit. Even if a parent is just dropping off lunch for his child, those are the rules. They apply immediately before, during, and immediately after school. I hope it’s obvious that this is all for the safety of the people in the building.

Concord High School in New Hampshire has a similar policy, but one parent was coming on school grounds every morning this past spring (from February onward), was in contact with students as they entered the building, and no one did anything about it. In fact, the principal allowed her to do it.

Why did that happen?

Because the mother, Lizarda Urena, wanted to pray for everybody:

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Dave Silverman Appears on FOX News to Debate Jewish Star on Ohio’s Holocaust Memorial

Last week, I wrote about a new Holocaust memorial that will soon go up on the grounds of the Ohio Statehouse:

The design features the story of an Auschwitz survivor told on two giant tablets… with a Star of David in the negative space between them.

While the monument will be paid for mostly through private donations, the state is kicking in about $300,000 for the preparation of the site.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation says that, while we should certainly honor the victims of the Holocaust, this particular design constitutes a promotion of religion:

… including the Star of David so prominently in the planned Memorial is exclusionary, ignoring the sacrifices made by the many other groups targeted by the Nazis during World War II. A reasonable observer could conclude that the government only cares about the Jewish victims of the Holocaust, not Christian, nonreligious, or other non-Jewish victims.

This afternoon, American Atheists’ David Silverman appeared on FOX News to defend FFRF’s position:

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