Wednesday, May 18, 2011

ACLU Threatens to Stop Graduation due to Cross

The ACLU is saying religious symbols on a building that has hosted the graduating class of Neptune High School in Ocean Grove, N.J., for the past six decades, in ceremonies that often have religious undertones, makes the ceremony unconstitutional because it violates the separation of church and state.

UPDATE 5/25/11 ACLU & school settle dispute: Religious signs will be covered plus other program changes.

-- From "ACLU may sue Neptune over tradition of holding graduation at Ocean Grove's Great Auditorium" by Michelle Gladden, Staff Writer, Asbury Park Press 5/9/11

School administration officials said they first received a First Amendment complaint about mixing church with state shortly after a nonresident attended the 2010 ceremony.

The administration immediately addressed the complainant’s program concerns by doing away with a student-led convocation and the students’ musical performance of the 19th-century English hymn “Onward, Christian Soldiers.”

But still discussions between the school board attorney and the ACLU continue over the venue, specifically the large cross on the outside of the historic structure and a sign on its interior that references praising the Lord.

One of the key reasons graduation is held at the Great Auditorium is because of its capacity to accommodate the 3,000 tickets printed each year for the event, [school Superintendent David A.] Mooij said.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "ACLU Threatens N.J. High School With Legal Action Over Graduation at Christian-Owned Site" by Cristina Corbin, Fox News 5/17/11

For generations, graduates of Neptune High School have walked down the aisle of the Great Auditorium in Ocean Grove, where the impressive 6,500-seat venue dominates the landscape of one of the area’s most historic beach towns. Built in 1894, the auditorium is owned and operated by the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, a Methodist group that owns not just the building, but all of the land beneath every home and structure in town.

The ACLU of New Jersey threatened legal action against the Neptune school district after an attendee at last year’s graduation ceremony took offense to the building’s religious symbols and Christian-based references -- among them a 20-foot white cross above the auditorium’s entrance. The ACLU asked the school to remove or cover up the cross and three other religious signs, arguing their visibility during a public school event is a First Amendment violation.

. . . The Camp Association said it could not cover the cross, said to have been a gift from movie director Woody Allen, who used the auditorium during shooting for the 1980 film "Stardust Memories." Nor would they cover up the two illuminated indoor signs – “Holiest to the Lord” and “So Be Ye Holy” – which are said to be the oldest operating electric signs in America.

Mooij said the school board received a letter on Thursday from the ACLU saying they would “likely have to take legal recourse” if their demands to cover the cross and signs were not met.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "ACLU Wants Religious Symbols Covered for NJ High School Graduation" by Lee Warren, Christian Post Contributor 5/14/11

The graduation ceremony is scheduled for June 20 and with both sides at an impasse, the ceremony may not happen in the historic auditorium.

More than 100 parents and alumnus of the high school showed up for a Neptune school district meeting Wednesday night to voice their opinion.

Former board member Michael D. Fornino read the First Amendment, prompting applause from the crowd. He went on to say, “It does not say a public cannot use a facility that is a religious institution.”

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.