Conn. School Officials Defend Church Graduations

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A Connecticut school system is defending its decision to hold its high school graduations inside a church. Testimony in the case is scheduled to continue Tuesday at the Bridgeport Federal Courthouse.

On Monday, Gregory Stokes, church pastor and chairman of the Enfield Board of Education, told a judge that the First Cathedral megachurch was chosen for the school's graduation site because it was cost effective and offered unlimited parking and seating.

"It has everything that is needed for one price," Stokes told District Judge Janet Hall.

School officials initially decided in January to hold the graduation ceremony outdoors. But Stokes said parents were worried about bad weather and limited seating in case the ceremony had to be moved inside the school.

The American Civil Liberties Union argued that holding a graduation at a church subjects students to religious symbolism during what should be a secular event.

The judge will tour the church before issuing a ruling in the case next week.

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