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Federal court upholds Wis. graduations in church

MADISON, Wis. (AP) – A federal appeals court says two Wisconsin public high schools properly held graduation ceremonies in a church.

Brookfield Central and Brookfield East held their graduations at Elmbrook Church for most of the last decade. A group of anonymous students and parents represented by Americans United for Separation of Church and State sued in 2009, saying using the church violated students and parents’ constitutional rights by creating an atmosphere that made non-Christians uncomfortable.

A federal judge in Milwaukee upheld the practice, saying graduation didn’t amount to a religious ceremony. A 7th Circuit Court of Appeals three-judge panel upheld that ruling 2-1 on Friday, noting graduates weren’t forced to participate in any religious exercise and the ceremonies were completely secular.

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