Enfield Church Graduation Battle Heads to Federal Court - NBC Connecticut

Enfield Church Graduation Battle Heads to Federal Court



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    ACLU takes Enfield high school graduation fight to federal court.

    The separation of church and state issue in Enfield will be decided in federal court.

    Earlier this month, the ACLU filed suit over the Enfield public schools holding high school graduation in a Christian church.

    The two sides sat down last week for mediation, but couldn't agree, so today they head to federal court in Bridgeport on Monday.

    Two seniors and three parents are seeking an injunction to block the district from holding graduation ceremonies for its two high schools at the First Cathedral Church in Bloomfield.

    They argue that holding the ceremony in the mega church is an unconstitutional endorsement of Christianity.

    The district began holding graduation ceremonies for its two high schools at First Cathedral in 2007 when the athletic fields at Fermi High were too torn up for the ceremony. Religious objects were either removed or covered.

    The ACLU and students they represent asked the district to reconsider in November before they struck a deal with the church.

    “The Board of Education has unnecessarily decided to use taxpayers’ money to hold the graduation ceremonies in a church when comparable and affordable secular facilities are available,” said Andrew Schneider, executive director of the ACLU of Connecticut. “By endorsing one set of religious beliefs over any other, the board’s action has created a divisive atmosphere in Enfield where those with minority religious beliefs are afraid to speak out publicly.”

    ACLU officials said that they decided to file suit several weeks before graduation, so that the court has enough time to decide the case without the graduations being disrupted.