Rhode Island Affiliate, American Civil Liberties Union


Separation of Church and State

Over the years, the Rhode Island ACLU has fought to maintain the separation of church and state. At the same time that the Affiliate has worked diligently to prevent government aid to religion, it has also been just as assiduous in protecting the free exercise of religion from government interference.

Court Cases

Currently, the R.I. ACLU has a lawsuit, Rogers v. Mulholland, which charges that the Pawtucket Parks and Recreation Division has, for a number of years, given preferential treatment to parochial schools over public schools in granting permits for the use of city athletics fields.

Recently, the Affiliate won Spratt v. Wall, a lawsuit challenging a Department of Corrections ban that barred an imate from preaching in the prison. 

Take a look at some of our other Church/State court cases.


In 2011, the RI ACLU fought against a broad religious exemption to the civil union law that allows any religiously-affiliated or connected organization, including those receiving government funds, to discriminate against individuals who are partners in civil unions.

In 2008, the RI ACLU fought against state aid to parochial schools.

In 2007, the ACLU successfully fought the "Easter Bunny" Bill.

Church-State Separation in the News

May 4, 2012 - Court Upholds Pawtucket’s Allocation of School Fields Against Constitutional Challenge

March 7, 2012 - ACLU Announces Submission of Final Judgement in Cranston Prayer Case

February 1, 2012 - ACLU Attorneys File Request for Fees In Cranston Prayer Case

January 12, 2012 - Judge Rules Cranston Prayer Mural Unconstitutional

December 16, 2011 - ACLU Lawsuit Challenging Pawtucket's Favorable Treatment of Parochial Schools Goes to Trial

September 12, 2011 - ACLU Brief Calls for Removal of Cranston School Prayer Display; Oral Argument Scheduled for October 13th

March 9, 2011 - RI ACLU to Sue Over Cranston School Prayer

February 3, 2011 - ACLU Files Brief to Overturn Favorable Treatment of Parochial Schools

October 14, 2009 - ACLU Sues Pawtucket Over Special Treatment Given to Parochial Schools

July 30, 2007 -- Court Settlement Reached in Lawsuit Challenging Inmate Preaching Ban at ACI

April 9, 2007 -- Appeals Court Overturns Ban on Inmate Preaching at Christian Services

November 1, 2006 -- ACLU Asks Appeals Court to Overturn Ban on Inmate Preaching at Christian Services

June 7, 2006 -- Court Upholds Ruling Barring Inmate from Preaching at Christian Services; RI ACLU Considers Appeal

March 22, 2006 -- RI ACLU Hails Department of Education Action to Halt Use of Questionable “Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage” Curriculum in Public Schools

January 6, 2005 -- Ten Commandments Monument Removed From City Park

November 15, 2004 -- Judge Rules Unconstitutional Cranston Holiday Display Policy, But Upholds Display

December 22, 2003 -- ACLU Sues Over Cranston City Hall Religious Display



128 Dorrance Street Suite 220    Providence, RI 02903  dot  Phone (401) 831-7171       Fax (401) 831-7175     riaclu@riaclu.org

Thiswww.riaclu.org is the website of the Rhode Island Affiliate, ACLU and the ACLU Foundation of Rhode Island. 

Learn more about the distinction between these two components of the RI ACLU.