A group of parents and students have sued the Elmbrook School District in Waukesha County Wisconsin to stop the district from holding graduation ceremonies in a Christian church. The school district has hosted the graduations of both Brookfield Central High School and Brookfield East High School in the Elmbrook Church for some time. The group claims, that forcing non-Christians to be in the church is a violation of their constitutional rights. They claim it creates an atmosphere that makes them uncomfortable.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State is helping the parents and students through suing the school district. The group that is suing the district includes one graduating student, several alumni and parents. The school defends their actions to use the church, claiming that the facility is larger and that it is a much more comfortable atmosphere than the other buildings available for such a graduation ceremony in Waukesha County, about ten miles west of Milwaukee.
Originally, the mega-church agreed to cover the large cross that was positioned in the sanctuary. However, it later changed its mind and uncovered it because the church “wants to share its facilities without compromising its identity” as the claim noted. Additionally, those visiting the church for the ceremony also must pass Bibles and Hymnals that are placed in the pews. This creates the uncomfortable situation they are concerned about.
The lawsuit is clear in what it wants to happen. It wants the school district to no longer host this year’s or any future year’s graduation ceremonies in the mega-church complex. It is also seeking damages for the students and parents named in the case.
The school claims that they do not have an alternative site for the event and that while the church will remove anything that is nonpermanent, it will not move anything that is a permanent fixture within the facility.