School keeps cross at front door

October 21, 2011
By

CENTRAL JP—A new public school that is in the sticky situation of operating out of a church building still has a Christian cross next to its front door, despite warnings from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) that it might violate separation of Church and State.

As the Gazette previously reported, Bridge Boston Charter School is renting space in the First Baptist Church at 633 Centre St. All religious items have to be removed from the schoolrooms and entrances under the First Amendment because the government cannot endorse religion, according to the state chapter of the ACLU.

But, school Executive Director Jug Chokshi told the Gazette this week, students are still entering through a front door that has the church’s name and a cross next to it.

Chokshi said he has asked the church for permission to cover the sign during school hours, but has received a “no” so far.

“I think their feeling is, ‘At the end of the day, we are a church,’” he said. “They were not comfortable at all with covering that up.”

“I’d say it’s still a question mark,” he added, saying that the church appears to be in a “wait and see” mode.

First Baptist Pastor Ashlee Wiest-Laird and ACLU of Massachusetts staff attorney Sarah Wunsch did not return Gazette phone calls.