After intervention from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Alma (Mich.) Public Schools will now require a church using its facilities to pay a formal rental fee and remove religious items left scattered around a district school.
The school allowed the church to hold Sunday worship services and frequent church events at the school. The church was allowed to make use of the kitchen, gym, stage, and extra rooms, had free use of building supplies and custodial services, and were even allowed to store religious items at the school, including an eight-foot wooden cross that was left on display in the school cafeteria.
FFRF Senior Staff Attorney Rebecca Markert sent a letter to Superintendent Sonia Lark on Oct. 19, 2012, pointing out that the religious symbols left in the school demonstrated “district preference for religion over nonreligion, and Christianity over other religions.” Markert pointed out that this “excludes those who are not Christian and the 19% of the American population that is nonreligious.”
The school district responded on Oct. 23, 2012, informing FFRF that the cross and other religious items were removed or covered. The district further informed FFRF on Jan. 3, 2013, that the church would now have to pay for custodial services and rental of school space.