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Ongoing Lawsuits - Freedom From Religion Foundation

Ongoing Lawsuits

FFRF Intervenes in Church Grant Lawsuit

Morris county lawsuit victory image

FFRF and New Jersey taxpayer David Steketee filed to intervene in the lawsuit Mendham Methodist Church v. Morris County, NJ on August 10, 2023. The Foundation previously litigated this issue and won in 2018 when the New Jersey Supreme Court unanimously ruled in FFRF’s favor that public money could not be used to repair a church. 

At issue again is the funding of churches through Historic Preservation grants. The plaintiffs in this new case argue that previous US Supreme Court decisions invalidated the decision that barred churches from participating in these funding programs and that the state’s Religious Aid Clause violates the U.S. Constitution’s Free Exercise Clause. FFRF's motion to intervene argues that the county is essentially looking for a "do-over" to relitigate claims already rejected by the New Jersey Supreme Court.

FFRF and Steketee are represented by local counsel Paul S. Grosswald and Richard Bolton of Boardman Clark. FFRF Associate Counsel Sam Grover and Senior Policy Counsel Ryan Jayne also represent the intervenors. This case is in the New Jersey District Court with the case number 2:23-cv-02347. 

FFRF Assists in Coalition Lawsuit Over Oklahoma Religious Public Charter School

Oklahoma Statewide Virtual Charter School Board

The Freedom From Religion Foundation and a coalition of groups and plaintiffs filed a lawsuit on July 31st, 2023 challenging the nation's first religious public charter school, St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual School. The coalition represents nine Oklahoma residents and a nonprofit organization that is committed to protecting Oklahoma's public school system. 

The lawsuit asserts that the Oklahoma Statewide Virtual Charter School Board violated the Oklahoma Constitution, the Oklahoma Charter Schools Act and the board’s own regulations when it approved St. Isidore’s application for charter-school sponsorship. It is asking the court to block (1) St. Isidore from operating as a charter school, (2) the charter school board from entering into or implementing any contracts with St. Isidore, and (3) the state from funding St. Isidore.

On Nov. 14, 2023, a group of the plaintiffs filed a motion to join a similar lawsuit filed by Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond before the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

Plaintiffs are represented by Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Education Law Center, with Odom & Sparks PLLC and J. Douglas Mann serving as local counsel in Oklahoma. This case is in the District Court of Oklahoma County.

Oklahoma Supreme Court Case

South Carolina Taxpayers Sue Over Funding to a Christian Learning Center

 The Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a lawsuit on September 21, 2022 to challenge the unconstitutional funding of a private religious educational institution in the state of South Carolina. State lawmakers earmarked $1.5 million in the budget for 2022 to go to Christian Learning Centers of Greenville County to help get its new facility off the ground. CLC is a private religious educational institution whose mission is to “provide biblical instruction for public school children at no cost.” Its faculty is a “group of Christ-centered educators who have a passion for teaching and sharing God’s Word with our youth,” to quote the organization itself. Students are encouraged to “spread the news” to others to “ELECT JESUS.” For 25 years, the Christian group has provided biblical release-time instruction to students in Greenville County schools.

The lawsuit challenges the appropriations bill for 2022-23 that designates this funding. It argues that it violates the South Carolina Constitution, as well as the rights of all citizens and taxpayers of the state of South Carolina, including plaintiffs and those who are similarly situated

The case was filed on behalf of four South Carolina taxpayers — Christopher Parker and Ian Whatley, both Greenville County residents, and Gere Fulton and Michael Brown, both Richland County residents — against defendants South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom, Treasurer Curtis Loftis Jr. and Education Superintendent Molly Spearman. Three of the plaintiffs are members of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, and Parker, who has children in the Greenville County Schools, is familiar with the intent of Christian Learning Centers to evangelize students.

The plaintiffs are represented by local attorney Steven Buckingham, as well as FFRF attorneys Patrick Elliott and Karen Heineman. This case is in The Court of Common Pleas in Richmond County, SC.

Coalition Sues Outgoing Trump Admin for Scrapping Anti-Discrimination Protections


The Freedom from Religion Foundation along with a coalition of service and advocacy organizations have filed a lawsuit against eight federal agencies for undoing rules that protect those receiving social services from being discriminated against.

Previously, federal rules had required faith-based organizations that provided critical, tax-payer funded services to inform recipients of their legal right to not be discriminated against, not to have to attend religious programming, and to be given the option for a referral to an alternate provider. The rules helped protect the most vulnerable from being forced to attend a Bible study or join in a prayer in order to access basic rights such food or shelter. Now, those who are seeking these services may needlessly opt into religious activities or forgo assistance altogether in order to avoid participation.

This lawsuit seeks to have this new rules declared a violation of the Administrative Procedures Act and reverse the rollback of these important protections.

The case (1:21-cv-00475) is in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York. This case is currently stayed while the new Biden administration proposes changes to the rules.

FFRF and Coalition Sue to Remove Arkansas Ten Commandments Monument

Arkansas 10 CommandmentsThe Freedom From Religion Foundation and a coalition of plaintiffs filed a lawsuit on May 23, 2018, against Arkansas Secretary of State Mark Martin seeking the removal of a massive Ten Commandments structure from the grounds of the Arkansas Capitol.

FFRF and its co-plaintiffs assert that this installation is in clear violation of constitutional precepts. The plaintiffs include FFRF, the American Humanist Association, the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers, as well as seven individual plaintiffs who are religious and nonreligious citizens of Arkansas.

“The state of Arkansas has erected an enormous religious monolith on government property in blatant disregard for the First Amendment to the United States Constitution,” the suit states. “The new monolith — a 6-and-one-third-foot tall Ten Commandments statue — stands prominently on the state Capitol grounds.”

The suit details how the Arkansas Legislature initiated this unconstitutional move.
“In 2016, the Arkansas General Assembly enacted Act 1231, the Ten Commandments Monument Display Act,” it states. “The purpose of the act was to permit the placing of a monument to the Ten Commandments on the grounds of the Arkansas state Capitol. The exact text of such a monument was prescribed by the General Assembly.”

The plaintiffs seek a declaration that the monument is unconstitutional, an injunction directing the defendant to remove the monument, and costs and attorneys’ fees. The lawsuit was consolidated with a case brought by the ACLU of Arkansas. The conjoined cases (No. 4:18-cv-00342) are before Judge Kristine G. Baker of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas. Attorney Gerry Schulze is representing the plaintiffs along with FFRF Senior Counsel Patrick Elliott, and AHA attorney David Niose.