The ACLU has sued Connecticut officials to prevent two high school graduations from being conducted in a megachurch, which has ample room for guests and unlimited parking. Several other schools backed off from using the church due to ACLU threats to sue. This is in line with ACLU’s general hostility to any recognition of religion in public.
Some of the facts for this article, but not the legal conclusions, come from an article in USA on 5 May, 2010. The Enfield, Connecticut School Board voted to stage the graduations of its two high schools at the First Cathedral, a Baptist “megachurch” in nearby Bloomfield. Several other school districts which had been planning to use the same venue for graduations had “backed off” after the ACLU threatened to sue them.
The article does not mention why the various school districts wanted to conduct their graduations there. As the veteran of a few dozen graduations, this writer can answer that question. At most graduations, the individual graduates are restricted to two tickets for friends and/or family to attend. Parking is also limited, and therefore a problem. In a “megachurch,” both of those common problems are immediately solved.
The lawsuit against the Enfield Board was filed by the ACLU and by Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Though both claim that they only seek to prevent the “religious coercion” of the students, the facts of the case belie that claim. The case was filed by “two students and their parents who choose to remain anonymous.”
With the consent of the officials of First Cathedral, the attorney for the School Board offered to meet with the attorney for the Plaintiffs to arrange for the removal or cover-up of various religious symbols inside the Cathedral. The ACLU attorney refused the offer, and filed suit. The Complaint says “virtually every aspect of its architecture ‘has religious significance,’ including a lower level that represents Earth, a middle level that represents heaven and a cupola that represents ‘the throne room of heaven, where God is.’ “
This blather ignores the fact that almost every major public building in the United States has a lower level, middle level, and upper level, sometimes with a cupola thrown in. The Capitol of the United States, the Capitols of all fifty states, and the original, Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress are all examples of that. Most of the sports stadia in the US have lower, middle and upper levels. More than half of them are open to the sky—and that’s where heaven is, if heaven exists, and where God lives, if God lives anywhere.
Neither the ACLU nor Americans United have a particle of interest in why the First Amendment forbade the “establishment of religion.” It did so to prevent the United States from ever establishing an official, state-sponsored religion, like most of the nations of Europe had done. No one can suggest without laughing that the seniors in several Connecticut high schools will be turned into hard-shell Baptists (either the sprinkling or full immersion variety) because they enter the First Cathedral, decked out for a high school graduation, and receive their diplomas there.
The judge who has the case has recently taken a tour of the building followed by a bevy of lawyers and reporters, She wanted to see for herself how “religious” it is, or it will be when redecorated. She will issue her decision promptly. One can hope that common sense, rather than the ACLU, will prevail in that decision.
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