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In Theory

In Theory

June 05, 2010

A federal judge in Connecticut ruled Monday that two public high schools in Enfield, Conn., could not hold their graduation ceremonies on June 23 and 24 in a 3,000-seat church, First Cathedral, saying that this would violate the Constitution's 1st Amendment. "By choosing to hold graduations at First Cathedral, Enfield schools send the message that it is closely linked with First Cathedral and its religious mission, that it favors the religious over the irreligious and that it prefers Christians over those that subscribe to other faiths, or no faith at all," U.S. District Court Judge Janet Hall wrote, according to an article in the Hartford Courant. "In addition to the character of the forum, the history and context of the decision to hold the graduations at First Cathedral also support the conclusion that, in doing so, Enfield Public Schools has endorsed religion." Do you agree with the judge's ruling? Or do you think that it is appropriate for a public school to hold a graduation ceremony at a church, synagogue, mosque or other place of worship?  

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Just one year ago, a judge in Wisconsin ruled the other way, stating that holding a graduation ceremony in a church does not necessarily constitute a church ceremony. Any indoor venue that holds 3,000 people would be accommodating for a graduation. In this Connecticut case, the judge is either caving in to the demands of the ACLU or is simply biased in her views. In our current society where some place tolerance over anything else, we see that when Christianity is involved, the notion of tolerance is thrown out. I'm glad to see that the American Center for Law and Justice is appealing the case on behalf of the school district.


Fr. Stephen Doktorczyk

St. Joachim Church

Costa Mesa

Hospitality, such as would cause everyone to feel comfortable, should characterize a high school graduation ceremony. For this a proper venue is as important as are the other matters of good planning. The beautiful grounds of a cemetery would not be proper, nor would the brash environment of a casino. For the court to decide against the selection of First Cathedral should not be interpreted as a decision against religion but a defense of that which is appropriate at a community event.

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