First Cathedral (Baptist), Bloomfield, CTAfter months of simmering discontent, the Enfield, Connecticut school board has decided to defy an ACLU threat to sue them over their practice of holding high school graduations — in a church in another town. The Hartford Courant reports on the controversy and the anger the ACLU has sparked in this little New England mill town (WebCite cached article):

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.

The board insists this blatant and obvious violation of the separation of church and state board is all for the sake of the children, of course:

“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.”

What Stokes failed to disclose is that Enfield — which has two high schools (Enfield High School and Enrico Fermi High School) — used to have its graduations at on the field at one of them (Fermi), until last-minute vandalism in 2008 forced them to use First Cathedral as a stopgap measure. It’s understandable for this to happen once, under what are essentially emergency conditions. But the board insists they have “no viable secular alternative” … in spite of the fact that they had never had such a problem, prior to 2008!

They are, quite simply, lying.

What makes this very odd is that Enfield is in Connecticut, not the Bible belt, and is not home to a large number of fundamentalists. It’s much more Catholic than anything else, and Catholics in the US aren’t known for wanting to force their religion on people. So I’m not sure why, all of a sudden, Enfield’s board of education is so fiercely trying to proselytize its graduating high school seniors.

For those of you who think the separation of church and state — as declared in Article VI and the First Amendment of the US Constitution — applies only to the US Congress and not to the states or any other level of government such as a municipal school system, guess again: The 14th Amendment created a principle known as incorporation, which passes some restrictions on Congressional power down to other levels. So they cannot legitimately do this. All the whining about the ACLU being “bullies” is irrelevant compared to that. Completely irrelevant.

At any rate, the town of Enfield CT appears to have been taken over by Bible-thumping proselytizers who want to make sure they have one last shot at indoctrinating kids as they leave high school. Nice.

Photo credit: Tia Ann Chapman / Hartford Courant (12/12/2009)

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