By: Florida Today Re: Re: Religious controversy By Sandra Wiley Florida Today A parent's c

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By: Florida Today Re: Re: Religious controversy By Sandra Wiley Florida Today A parent's complaint about religious instruction at a public elementary school - along with pressure from the Brevard chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union - has forced the school to cancel a similar event set for today. Denise Forsgren complained that her Suntree Elementary third-grade daughter, Sarah, had to take part in a celebration of Passover, a holiday commemorating the Jewish people's exodus from Egypt after 2,000 years of slavery to the Egyptians. Principal Raymon Rogers said the school will cancel a second presentation by a "resource person" that was set for today. "We do not have any more of these activities or presentations planned at this time," he said. The mother of a Jewish student brought a menorah, or Jewish candelabrum, to the classroom, read a storybook about Passover, played Jewish games and gave out Jewish toys, Forsgren said. Passover, which began at sundown April 15 continues through sundown Saturday. Forsgren said she has complained before, but got no results. The mother of three Suntree students is relieved the presentations have stopped, but said the sessions on Judaism have taken place "for two years." The visits happened during Passover and Hanukkah, an eight-day celebration in the fall. "This has completely confused my daughter. She came home crying," said Forsgren, whose family is Catholic. Rogers said he talked with Sarah's teacher, Patty Pinson, who said the Jewish mother also had unleavened bread, which Jews eat during Passover, for the children to taste. Rogers, who calls the game played "traditional, not religious," said he does "not believe anything improper took place. "We try to provide a broad base of learning experiences for our children. We cover a varied area of religions and cultures, and we have definite guidelines for that." Jim Hooper, a spokesman for the ACLU, said the presence of other religious instruction "cannot justify allowing the Jewish presentations currently allowed." He said the ACLU would wait to see what action the school takes: "The problem ought to be self-correcting now that the problem has been called to the attention of the school."

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