Saturday, April 24, 2010

High School Graduation To Be Held In A Church

Enfield CT high school graduation is being held in a church and that has spurred debate here in Connecticut. The majority of the school board members are in favor of holding the graduation in the church and that has divided the town and brought threats of law suits.

The Hartford Courant reported

The board of education voted 6-3 Tuesday night to hold this year's high school graduations at First Cathedral in Bloomfield and challenge a lawsuit threat by two civil liberties organizations.

The American Civil Liberties Union and Americans United for Separation of Church and State last year threatened to sue the district if it continued to hold ceremonies at First Cathedral.

"We're not picking a fight. We simply want to graduate and do honor to our students," said Chairman Gregory Stokes. "The decision is based on the fiscal situation of the district and not the ideological situation of the district."

"We're disappointed that after reaching a decision two months ago the Enfield board of education has changed their mind and moved this graduation back to the church," ACLU staff attorney David McGuire said Wednesday. "This decision is disrespectful of religious minorities and forces families and students to choose between attending graduation and being subjected to religious messages."
In another Courant article they report
The board of education prepared itself this week for a potential lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union by agreeing to accept the services of an evangelical Christian law center that has offered free legal help.Chairman Gregory Stokes said the American Center for Law and Justice of Washington, D.C., was appointed at a special meeting Monday.

"I've been hired to advise the board on any issues that arise in this case, and that includes advising on how to handle any suit that may come from the ACLU or Americans United [for Separation of Church and State]," Vincent McCarthy, senior northeast counsel for the ACLJ, said Thursday. "We're preparing in the event that we can settle or in the event that a suit is filed."
So here, we have groups who say they are fighting for religious freedom, however, they are forcing non-Christian students to choose between their religion or their graduation ceremony. The American Center for Law and Justice is a conservative Christian law organization that is fighting against marriage equality, the teaching of Evolution and sex education in classrooms. They have joined forces here in Connecticut with the Family Institute of Connecticut to fight to have Enfield’s graduation held in a Christian church. They are doing that to the detriment of other religions. They are totally disregarding students who are Jewish, Moslem, Jehovah Witnesses and non-Christian students. They hide behind the cloak of “Religious Freedom” when in reality they are just pushing their particular Christian views.


  1. Next thing you know they will be teaching creationism in the public schools!!!

  2. Quick question: is the Cathedral the biggest building in town? Does it have the largest capacity? Where has graduation been held in the past?

    If it really is the only place in town with enough seating, I can see some sense in it. But if so, the school district really needs to remedy that situation; it's cheaper (not just financially) to build a freakin' auditorium than to deal with a lawsuit!

    Gotta wonder about the people on the Board....

  3. That wasn't stated in the article, however, there was a comment to the article...
    "Let me get this straight, the Mass. Mutual Center's Arena cost $11,800 per event ($23,600 for 2 seperate events) as stated below and the BOE put aside $32,000 for the cost of the Cathedral. Why are the graduations not in Springfield? It's cheaper, closer and keeps the whole religous issue out of the picture. Heck, the arena would probably even open up the food consessions for all those wide butts that can't bring themselves to sit out on a hot football field!"
    The article did state that in the past, graduation was held on the football field, but the BOE decided not to hold them on the field.

  4. Outside is a bad plan, but paying a church MORE than an arena is just stupid.

    Huh boy, glad I'm not on the Board, nor affiliated with it, or even have a kid in the schools. We might be sitting out graduation on this, and I'm a churchgoer!

    [thx for the background]

  5. I am the parent of an Enrico Fermi senior in Enfield. The ACLU sent a letter in December, 2006 regarding the first graduation that was to be held at First Cathedral. The reason that the 2007 and 2008 graduations weren't held on the football fields was because the fields had been torn up and renovated. The excuse now is that if graduations were to be held on the fields, the warrarty would be voided.

    The School Board ignored it and subsequent letters, and held graduations there for the last three years.

    This year, the Board voted against holding graduation at the Cathedral, when the ACLU wrote a letter in November telling the Board they would sue if the board voted to hold graduations at the Cathedral in their November or December meetings.

    Some board members then rescinded
    their votes in April, when the board pastor convinced them that the American Center for Law and Justice (founded by Pat Robinson) would defend the board pro bono.

    This was not about the best venue to hold the graduation, but was a personal mission for one school board member to further his religious views and agenda.

    To answer Cat's question: First Cathedral is not even in the same town, but is in fact three towns away.