By Michael P. Mayko
BRIDGEPORT — A federal judge Monday barred Enfield from conducting graduation ceremonies for its two public high schools at a Christian church.
U.S. District Judge Janet C. Hall reached the decision after a May 25 visit to First Cathedral Church in Bloomfield, where she saw numerous religious symbols, sayings and artificats.
While the Enfield School Board said it would require First Cathedral to cover up or modify most of the symbols, Hall noted that same request was made in the past and not accomplished. As a result she determined “that casts some doubt over the likliehood the Board will be successful this year.”
The 51-page decision comes after hearings last week on a suit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and Americans United on behalf of two Enfield High School graduating seniors and their parents. One of the seniors is described as “agnostic” and maintains it would be “difficult if not impossible for me to attend my own graduation if it were held at First Cathedral.”
The second, a practicing Jew, feels she would be subjected to “Christian beliefs … through its scriptures and symbols.”
Parents of the students said they would be deprived of a “once in a lifetime opportunity” if their children chose not attend their high school graduation.
The judge noted that an alternate site — the Springfield (Mass.) Symphony Hall — was available at a much cheaper price.