The Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) of Rhode Island is suing the Providence Public School District for denying students access to its Good News Clubs on the same terms as secular clubs.
“They continue to deny equal access to Good New Clubs,” Mathew Staver, lead lawyer for Orlando-based Liberty Counsel, which represents CEF Rhode Island, said. “You cannot discriminate based on a Christian viewpoint.”
The school district has blocked CEF Rhode Island from hosting its club meeting at school facilities for two years, Liberty Counsel noted. Other organizations, however, such as Boys and Girls Clubs, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, YMCA and Girls on the Run are given free use of school facilities for their after-school programs.
Such a prohibition violates their free speech and equal protection rights, Liberty Counsel argues.
While CEF Rhode Island repeatedly applied for permission to hold after-school Good News Clubs in 2021, the school district did not respond to any of the requests. Liberty Counsel obtained public records, however, showing the school district was approving similar groups’ requests in the same period.
In their federal lawsuit, which also names Providence Public School Superintendent Javier Montañez, CEF Rhode Island contends that in its decision the school district is motivated by hostility toward the group’s Christian message.
The clubs provide religious and other teaching and activities to encourage learning, spiritual growth, and service to others, as well as social, emotional, character, and leadership development.
CEF Rhode Island is asking U.S. District Court Judge Mary S. McElroy to issue preliminary and permanent injunctions against the district and to require it to treat the Good News Clubs as it does any other clubs.
“The Good News Club must be given equal treatment as the non-religious groups,” he added.
Providence Schools had previously allowed a Good News Club at William D’Abate Elementary School for the 2019-2020 school year, but the program was eventually canceled because of coronavirus pandemic closures.
Thomas D. Williams is Breitbart Rome Bureau Chief and the author of The Coming Christian Persecution.
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