Virtual Voices

ACLU threatens another graduation

Religion

If it's high school graduation time, it must be time for the American Civil Liberties Union to start threatening lawsuits again.

Last year the organization set its sights on a school in Connecticut that had, for years, been holding its graduation ceremonies in a church, the only building in the area large enough to accommodate the graduates and their families.

This year the ACLU is threatening a lawsuit over a New Jersey high school's plans to continue its 70-year tradition of using the Great Auditorium in Ocean Grove, N.J., for its graduation festivities. The auditorium is not a religious building, per se, although it is owned by a Methodist organization called the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association.

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The ACLU claims that an attendee of Neptune High School's graduation last year objected to the religious symbols decorating the auditorium, including a 20-foot cross above the entrance. Inside there are two illuminated electric signs (reportedly the oldest operating electric signs in the United States) that read "Holiness to the Lord" and "So Be Ye Holy." According to a report at FoxNews.com, the Neptune School Board received a letter from the ACLU within the last few days saying they would "likely have to take legal recourse" if the cross and signs aren't covered.

The building's owners have said they wouldn't be willing to cover up the cross or the signs. Meanwhile, the Neptune public school superintendent says the 3,000 invitations have already been printed.

According to a report at the Christian Post, the ACLU's complaint was filed on behalf of a woman who attended the graduation last year, but doesn't live in the district.

The historic building is what might be called a multi-use facility. As a concert venue, Frank Sinatra Jr. and the Beach Boys have performed there. It was used in the shooting of the Woody Allen film Stardust Memories and has played host to the Rev. Billy Graham.

Marcia Segelstein
Marcia Segelstein

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