VINCE GIORDANO AND THE NIGHTHAWKS
Posts Tagged ‘the Great Auditorium in Ocean Grove’
Posted in Ocean Grove photographs, Photography by Paul Goldfinger, tagged Autumn tents in OceanGrove, Mozart's clarinet concerto in A major, the Great Auditorium in Ocean Grove on May 25, 2014| 4 Comments »
ELIZABETH GANTER. Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto in A Major. Gordon Turk, please bring this to the Great Auditorium.
Posted in Blogfinger News, Feature article, Ocean Grove feature article, Ocean Grove news, tagged Great Auditorium organ, Mary Walton, the Great Auditorium in Ocean Grove on June 28, 2012| 3 Comments »
Howes, the grandson of Methodist minister G.E. Lowman, a noted Baltimore radio evangelist, contributed $45,000 for the construction and installation of the open wood pipes in memory of his grandfather. “I thought this would be a wonderful way to memorialize my grandfather and make a contribution to Ocean Grove that everyone could enjoy,” he said in an interview.
By Charles Layton
The Neptune Township Committee approved a resolution Monday night supporting continued use of Ocean Grove’s Great Auditorium for high school graduation. Mayor Kevin McMillan said he “didn’t feel the students should be deprived of it. They’ve worked hard.”
The American Civil Liberties Union is threatening to sue over the use of a place of worship for a public school graduation. The Neptune Board of Education has agreed to eliminate all religious content from the program, including an invocation and the playing of religious music, but the two sides are at an impasse over the presence of certain Christian symbols in and about the building, including the large white cross in front. The Camp Meeting Association, which owns the building, has refused the ACLU’s request that those symbols be covered over during the ceremony.
Committeeman Randy Bishop said, “The students themselves are quite upset about not being able to graduate there.”
As of now, it remains unclear whether the ACLU will follow through with its threat to try to block the use of the Auditorium in court. In effect, the two sides appear frozen in a game of chicken. Graduation is scheduled for June 17.
Bishop said there is no other venue available that is anywhere near as good as the Auditorium. It has been the site of Neptune graduation ceremonies for at least seven decades.
Committeeman Eric Houghtaling said he had attended several non-religious events in the Auditorium, including his own high school graduation, and had never paid much attention to the religious signs in the building. “At my graduation all I remember is the American flag” that lights up behind the stage.
For a more detailed account of the dispute, go here.
Posted in Charles Layton, Neptune Township News, Ocean Grove news, tagged Great Auditorium, Neptune graduation, Neptune High School, neptune high school graduation, the Great Auditorium in Ocean Grove on May 14, 2011| 66 Comments »
— UPDATED STORY: Includes interview with ACLU attorneys —
By Charles Layton
The American Civil Liberties Union is threatening legal action unless the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association removes religious symbols from the Great Auditorium prior to Neptune High School’s graduation ceremonies there.
The dispute is over the constitutional issue of separation of church and state.
Graduation is scheduled for June 17.
The Neptune Board of Education has been negotiating with ACLU attorneys and their client for some time and has made several concessions in hopes of avoiding legal action. According to Superintendent David Mooij, the board has agreed to remove all religious content from the graduation program. However, Mooij said, the two sides remain stuck over the ACLU’s claim that “religious objects” should also be covered from view. The objects at issue are the large white cross on the front of the building, the two lighted religious signs inside on either side of the stage (shown in photo above) and a religious symbol at one of the doorways.
Mooij said the Camp Meeting Association, which owns the auditorium, has offered to make some concessions but says it “can’t take down or cover those signs, and I agree with them.”
The two ALCU attorneys said they thought it would be a simple and inexpensive matter for the Camp Meeting to cover up the four signs for the night of the graduation only. “We don’t think that’s too much to ask,” said Jeffrey Pollock, a Princeton attorney who is handling the case along with his wife, Seval Yildirim, a law professor at Whittier Law School in California.
Neptune High School has been holding graduation ceremonies in the Great Auditorium for six or seven decades. Shortly after last year’s graduation the grandmother of a graduate sent a letter to the school board objecting to the ceremony’s religious content and to its location in a place of worship. She also voiced her complaint at the board’s September work session.
The board took the complaint seriously and, following lengthy discussions, decided to do away with all religious content in the graduation program, including the traditional student invocation and the playing of “Onward Christian Soldiers.”
“We thought things would be OK going forward,” Mooij said. “Some time elapsed before we heard back from this individual by way of the ACLU. The ACLU acknowledged our programmatic changes but said there were still problems with the venue.”
Pollock and Yildirim told me that if the school board and the Camp Meeting do not agree to cover up the religious symbols, they would probably recommend to their client that she file suit, either in state or federal court. The New Jersey courts might be the more likely choice. “The New Jersey constitution has more specific limitations upon the actions of a public entity like a public school,” Pollock said. However, he said, both the state and federal constitutions have a strong preference “that a public school find a place that is nonreligious, so that if you’re not of that religion you don’t feel excluded.”
Mooij said holding the graduation in the auditorium was important to the school because it “has historic significance and status” and also because of the large number of people it can accommodate. “We print 3,000 tickets every year,” he said, “so families can bring not only moms and dads and siblings but grandparents and aunts and uncles. To get 3,000 seats anywhere else, this community would have to travel a considerable distance.”
He said it was unclear how long the school has been holding its graduations there, but “our high school secretary’s father is 91, and he graduated there. And he said his was not the first class to do so.”
The grandmother who initiated the challenge has no relatives graduating from Neptune High this year, her two attorneys said, but she does have relatives scheduled to graduate next year.