We’ll find out tonight during the Neptune High School graduation ceremony at the Ocean Grove Great Auditorium.
In case you missed it, the ACLU threaten to sue the Neptune Board of Education seeking to compel the end of the 70 year old tradition of holding the high school graduation at the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association’s glorious historical 3000 seat venue that hosts religious services and well as secular events.
Granny Breslow felt uncomfortable by the religious imagery, the convocation and hymns at her grand daughter’s graduation last year and contacted the ACLU to put a stop to it. Rather than litigate, the Neptune Board of Education negotiated a comprise that required no convocation, that religious banners in the auditorium would be covered and that the cross on the auditorium will not be lit before or during the ceremony.
The tradition was spared but many in the community were outraged that one out of town malcontent could bully the Board of Ed in to altering the ceremony at all. Many felt the Board should not have complied with any of the ACLU’s demands.
In the facebook group that was created to rally public support to keep the graduation at the Great Auditorium, much of the chatter since the deal was made with the ACLU has focused on bringing religious expression into the graduation ceremony. There has been talk of community members wearing necklaces with lit crosses and breaking out in prayer before, during and after the ceremony.
MMM supports the community members in making authentic religious expressions. They should avoid the temptation to hijack the graduation by turning it into an angry protest. Keep the focus on celebrating the accomplishments and the futures of the graduating high school seniors.
Posted: June 17th, 2011 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: ACLU, Neptune Township | Tags: ACLU, Breslow, Neptune High School Graduation | 1 Comment »
By Art Gallagher
We have been hard on the Neptune Board of Education over their choice to negotiate with the ACLU over the use of the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association’s Great Auditorium as the venue for their high school graduation. We would have preferred that Neptune, or anybody, stand up to the over reaching ACLU and their cowardly client. We continue to believe that there are winnable legal arguments, right arguments, that the use of the Great Auditorium is not a violation of the first amendment required separation of church and state.
We don’t agree that covering the religious signs and symbols at the venue protects the rights of someone who does not agree with the message. We don’t believe that if someone feels like an outsider that their rights have been violated. We don’t believe that an ecumenical prayer to begin or end a ceremony or the singing of a hymn makes a civic ceremony a religious service.
We would love to see the ACLU crushed in court or to scamper away at the sight of a leader who would stand up to their bullying tactics.
However, in this case we believe the Neptune Board of Education and Superintendent David Mooij performed admirably for their community. As we were reminded this week with the Abbott Ruling, we have an arrogant, activist and dysfunctional judiciary in this state and country. As strong as their arguments would have been, there is a good chance that the Neptune board could have lost in court and the 70 year tradition of holding their graduation in the Great Auditorium could have been over. Such a result would have been most unfortunate for the community of Neptune. It appears that the Neptune board and Mooij were able to avoid that result. For avoiding that result and preserving the tradition they are to be commended.
We continue to have one major issue with the conduct of the board and administration in Neptune; their policy of protecting the identity of the ACLU’s client. The grumpy granny’s identity should be an easily searchable matter of public record. Her name should have appeared in the minutes of the Neptune Board of Education meeting last July when she first publically raised the issue. Instead, she was identified as “a member of the public.”
The woman who felt like an outsider at her grandchild’s graduation last year and concluded that her rights were violated should have gone to therapy rather than threaten to go to court. She knows she’s an outsider. By hiding her identity with the cooperation of the Neptune board and the ACLU she confirmed that she’s a sneaky outsider without the courage of her convictions to withstand public scorn and scrutiny.
By protecting the woman’s identity the board and administration put their 70 year tradition that means a great deal to the community at risk. Fortunately things worked out for the present and future Neptune graduates. Unfortunately those students also learned a lesson in the power of cowardice and complicity.
Posted: May 26th, 2011 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: ACLU, Neptune | Tags: ACLU, Breslow, Neptune, Neptune Board of Education | 12 Comments »
Neptune Board Of Ed and ACLU Reach Compromise
By Art Gallagher
The Neptune Board of Education has agreed to cover religious signs and symbols in and outside of the Ocean Grove Great Auditorium, with the exception of the prominent cross on the building, and the ACLU has agreed not to take legal action to prevent the Neptune High School Class of 2011 graduation to take place at the auditorium, according to reports at Neptune Matters and Blog Finger.
The board agreed that this graduation and future ceremonies would be free of religious content, i.e., prayers and hymns.
The agreement clears the way for the 70 year Neptune tradition to continue.
The identity of the ACLU’s client has not been revealed. The complainant has been identified only as the grandmother of a student who graduated last year. MMM has narrowed the identity down to one of two women with the same last name, initial “B.” One an Eatontown resident, the other an Ocean Township resident. So long as this agreement sticks, MMM will cease efforts to confirm the identity of the complainant.
Posted: May 25th, 2011 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: Neptune, Neptune Township | Tags: Breslow, Neptune High School Graduation, Ocean Grove Great Auditorium | 2 Comments »