Parents of public school students in Pawtucket, Rhode Island accuse the city of favoring Saint Raphael Academy -- a prominent Catholic school and alma mater of city and state brokers -- by granting its football team exclusive use of a public field. They say it is unconstitutional to give a religious school priority access to a field meant for public use, and they are suing the city.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is spearheading the lawsuit, reports the Associated Press today. "Government should not give special benefits to religious organizations over secular organizations, and we believe that that is precisely what has happened here," said Steven Brown, executive director of the ACLU's Rhode Island affiliate.
St. Raphael is a prestigious presence in Pawtucket, producing prominent alumni, including the city's mayor, the parks and recreation superintendent -- who awards field permits -- and the state attorney general.