Connecticut: Victory for Christian Club

March 6, 2010 13:36

Jay Sekulow’s Trial Notebook   ACLJ

We were contacted by Shawn, a parent in Connecticut, after his son, Steven, learned that a Christian Club that he was trying to start at his public high school would be subject to restrictions that are not imposed on other student organizations.

We’re delighted to report that, after receiving a letter from us, the school has approved the Christian Club’s application and the club will be allowed to operate on the same terms as other student organizations.

Steven’s high school has a variety of student clubs and activities.  The school has delegated some of its authority to oversee student clubs and proposed student clubs to the Student Council. When Steven submitted an application to form a Christian Club, the Student Council rejected it, saying that a club dealing with religion must discuss a variety of religions rather than emphasizing one particular religion.

When Steven discussed his application with the principal, she stated that the club could focus on Christian teachings, but she took issue with the use of “Christian” in the club’s name. She also stated that the club would not be able to worship or evangelize.

We got involved after the family scheduled a meeting with the principal and other staff at the school to discuss the situation. We provided them with a letter to bring to the meeting that explained that the First Amendment to the Constitution and the Equal Access Act required the high school to recognize the Christian Club and provide it with the same benefits and privileges that other student clubs enjoy.

In particular, the law protects the club’s right to include “Christian” in its name and to use meeting space for religious activities to the same extent that other student groups are allowed to meet for secular activities.

After discussing our letter with school officials, Shawn sent us an email saying, “I want to thank you for all your help. The information you provided has been very insightful and helpful. . . . Everything went well and Steve and the other kids will be able to meet and have a time dedicated to Christian doctrine. The activity can be named anything they want. They can post flyers and make announcements like clubs and other activities. . . . God has opened a door for kids to meet, pray together, and discuss and hear the Word.”

We will keep in touch with Shawn and Steven to make sure that the Christian Club is treated fairly throughout the rest of the school year.
Posted: 2/25/2010

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