This story was originally published by the WND News Center.
A school district in Rhode Island has been sued for repeatedly refusing to respond to a request from a Good News Club for permission to meet on campus – just like many other clubs were allowed.
Liberty Counsel confirmed it has gone to U.S. District Court in the state with a case against Providence Public Schools and its superintendent, Javier Montanez.
The charge is discriminating against Child Evangelism Fellowship by not allowing its Good News Clubs on campuses while allowing other clubs to meet.
The action seeks preliminary and permanent injunctions against the school district’s enforcement of the “unconstitutional policies that prohibit the Good News Clubs to meet on equal terms as secular clubs,” Liberty Counsel reported.
The district for nearly two years, the report said, has “blocked” the organization from having its Good News Clubs after school events.
“However, other organizations such as Boys and Girls Clubs, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, YMCA, and Girls on the Run are given free use of school facilities for after-school programs,” Liberty Counsel said.
The clubs charge no fees and welcome any child with written permission from parents.
Some 4,800 Good News Clubs already are meeting in public elementary and middle schools across the United States, including in other Rhode Island school districts.
“Liberty Counsel Founder Mat Staver said, “The law is clear that public schools cannot discriminate against the Christian viewpoint of Good News Clubs. Equal access means equal treatment in terms of the use of the facilities, including fee waivers, time of meetings, and announcements. The Good News Club must be given equal treatment as the non-religious groups.”
His legal team recounted how the district failed to respond to repeated requests “throughout 2021.” Those requests were renewed in 2022, but “again, the school district never responded while a comparable non-profit club, Girls on the Run, had its first spring meeting on February 27, 2023.”
The precedent from the U.S. Supreme Court requires schools to treat those clubs like any other organization. It said when schools do not provide “equal access and equal treatment to Christian clubs when the school has opened the forum to secular clubs,” they violate the First Amendment.