Graduation Ceremony in Church Spurs Lawsuit

March 14, 2007

Author: Kasi Addison

Source: Beliefnet

Wire Service: RNS

A high school graduation ceremony held last year in a Newark church has sparked a lawsuit over religious freedom.

A senior who was graduating from West Side High School says he could not attend the ceremony because his Muslim faith prohibited him from entering a building with religious icons, such a pictures of God or the cross, according to a lawsuit filed against the Newark Public Schools by the American Civil Liberties Union.

"Schools should not sponsor activities that exclude some students from participating on the basis of religious belief," said Edward Barocas, the group's legal director.

The suit, filed on behalf of Bilal Shareef, is asking the court to grant the 18-year-old damages because both the graduation and a religious baccalaureate service violated his right not to be discriminated against on the basis of his religion.