Faithandthelaw's Blog

The law as it relates to Christians and their free exercise of religion

Christian Law Center Offers Legal Help To Enfield Board Of Education Concerning Potential Lawsuit from ACLU

Posted by faithandthelaw on April 24, 2010

ENFIELD —

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.”

The civil liberties union and Americans United threatened in November to sue the school district if it continued with its plans to hold high school graduation ceremonies at First Cathedral in Bloomfield. They demanded the ceremonies be moved to a secular location. The graduations would be for Enfield High School and Enrico Fermi High School.

“It’s very unfortunate that the board of education has allowed itself to be convinced by an outside religious group to make ill-advised decisions that show a lack of respect for the religious minorities in the Enfield public schools,” said David McGuire, staff attorney for the ACLU.

The school board voted last week to hold the graduation at the church anyway after months of discussion about alternatives. Board members said last week that time and money played a big role in the decision not to move the ceremony, because the graduations are fast approaching and other locations were more expensive.

The ACLU said it is still conferring with its clients — families who have filed complaints about the use of the church — and has not decided how it will proceed.

“If graduations are carried out at the church it will ultimately violate Enfield students’ and parents’ constitutional rights and will likely be quite harmful to the Enfield taxpayers,” McGuire said.

Copyright © 2010, The Hartford Courant

Courtesy of http://www.courant.com/community/enfield/hc-enfield-cathedral-0423.artapr22,0,7433410.story

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