Atheist complaint sinks boat blessing

Tuesday, May 28, 2013
 | 
OneNewsNow.com Staff, Bob Kellogg (OneNewsNow.com)

After a complaint from an atheist group, eighth graders at a Maine elementary school will launch their handmade skiffs next month without the traditional "blessing of the fleet."

Instead, there will be a "ceremonial launch speech."  

 "Where's the common sense?" asks Carroll Conley, executive director of the Christian Civic League of Maine.

Conley, Carroll (Christian Civic League of Maine)Conley tells OneNewsNow he was disappointed to learn that South Bristol Elementary School caved so quickly to a single complaint, calling the school's decision a "knee-jerk reaction."

 He says South Bristol school officials did "what's safe to do and what's easy to do," instead of keeping the school tradition, now in its 16th year.

 Americans United for Separation of Church and State sent a letter to the school, alleging the school's involvement with the maritime ceremony violated the First Amendment, the Bangor Daily News reported.

 A pastor from the Union Congregational Church was set to give the blessing at the boat launch, scheduled for June 14. The students have been building their boats every Friday at the Maine Maritime Museum.

 The predominately Catholic "blessing of the fleet" is a tradition that began hundreds of years ago in Mediterranean fishing villages.

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