Wednesday, June 09, 2010

ACLU & Judge Oppose School Graduation in Church

A Connecticut school board voted narrowly Tuesday to fight a court ruling that would keep the town's two high school graduations from being held inside a Bloomfield megachurch, reversing an earlier decision not to do so.

-- From "Conn. School Board Revotes on Church Graduation" by The Associated Press 6/8/10

Last week, Enfield's Board of Education voted by the same 5-4 margin to let stand the temporary injunction issued by U.S. District Court Judge Janet Hall. The judge found that holding the June 23 and 24 graduations at the 3,000-seat First Cathedral Baptist Church would amount to an unconstitutional government endorsement of religion.

Attorney Vincent McCarthy, who's representing the school district, plans to file the appeal with the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York. He did not immediately return calls for comment Tuesday night.

David McGuire, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, says he's disappointed by the decision, but believes the injunction will be upheld by the appeals court.

Town officials have said they wanted the graduations at the church, which has hosted a number of them in recent years, citing its lower cost, large indoor crowd capacity and ample parking.

WTIC-AM reports that attorneys for the students who are suing say the board changed its mind after intense lobbying by the Family Institute of Connecticut, a socially conservative religious organization.

Several nearby school districts had changed their plans to hold graduation ceremonies at the megachurch after receiving letters in the fall from groups including the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut and Americans United for Separation of Church and State warning they'd sue.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Enfield Will Appeal to Hold Graduations at Church" by Amanda Raus, NBC Connecticut 6/9/10

"If we don’t appeal it, we’re somewhat saying we acknowledge or validate that opinion," said Enfield Board of Education Chairman Greg Stokes.

The lawsuit was brought on by the ACLU on behalf of a few students and their parents. The judge sided with them and ruled that using the First Cathedral Baptist Church was an unconstitutional endorsement of religion.

Even with the appeals process, students at Fermi and Enfield High will still be graduating at their two schools. If the graduations are held indoors, it could mean attendance limits, which the students and parents aren’t too happy about.

Many students are hopeful, though, that this appeal will bring change for future classes.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.