- (Photo: Reuters/Cheryl Ravelo)
A lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union has stated that a Halloween celebration canceled by a Pennsylvania elementary school does not evoke religious concerns.
Earlier this week an elementary school in Pennsylvania opted to ban a Halloween parade for the schoolchildren, with the principal citing religious concerns.
Mary Catherine Roper, senior staff attorney at the ACLU of Pennsylvania, told The Christian Post that she did not believe there was a true church and state concern with the Halloween event.
"If the district wants to err on the side of sensitivity, that's certainly its option to do so. But I don't think that they had any reason to fear that the holiday celebrations could get them in legal trouble," said Roper.
"The legal standard is not whether some people have religious views about the holiday, but whether the school can reasonably be understood to be acting to support (or denigrate) particular religious views."
Roper added that she had "never heard of a school being found to have endorsed religion because it held such a celebration."
"Unless they tell the kids to dress up as their favorite religious figures, I don't think holding a Halloween parade crosses that line," said Roper.
Inglewood Elementary School in Montgomery County announced earlier this week via a letter to parents that the festivities, while largely secular, were considered religious by some and therefore problematic for the school to sponsor.
"The district must always be mindful of the sensitivity of all the members of the community with regard to holidays and celebrations of a religious, cultural or secular nature," said Principal Orlando Taylor.
"The United States Supreme Court has ruled that school districts may not endorse, prefer, favor, promote or advance any religious beliefs. ..."
The decision has garnered much attention both among Montgomery County residents and the nation, with the initial ABC local Action News article posted on Wednesday going viral.
According to Action News, parents have been critical of the decision by Inglewood Elementary to cancel the Halloween event.
"I think it's a disgrace. I can't even explain how infuriated I am with this. Now we're taking out Halloween. Even with the Pledge of Allegiance that was up for debate because we mentioned God in it. When are people just going to stop and let schools be schools?" explained one parent to Action News.
Located in Towamencin Township, Inglewood Elementary falls under the jurisdiction of the North Penn School District.
On the same day as the news broke the North Penn School District stated that Taylor did not give "an accurate representation of the school district's administrative regulation," according to phillymag.com.
"Schools are permitted to have Halloween parties in their classrooms during the school day and schoolwide activities, such as parades, are permitted before and after the school day," reads the statement.