You won’t hear it reported by the so-called mainstream media, but Christian students in our nation’s public schools are frequently finding a hostile environment when they attempt to live out their faith in the classroom, often in the simplest of ways.
Many of these cases of discrimination crop up when students attempt to initiate Good News Clubs at their schools. These clubs, sponsored by Child Evangelism Fellowship (which supports clubs in all 50 states and in 156 countries), are frequently met with hostility by local education officials who believe they must purge their schools of any Christian influence.
Here are a few recent examples of schools trampling on the rights of Christian students who have attempted to start Good News Clubs:
In New Jersey, a school board has decided to permit a Good News Club to meet at the Minue Elementary School after Liberty Counsel, an affiliate of Jerry Falwell Ministries, sent a letter to the district demanding equal access to the school gymnasium after school. The principal there had earlier blocked the meetings after learning that the Good News Club teaches morals and character development from a biblical perspective.
In Milwaukee, the Hi-Mount Elementary School has now removed its self-imposed cap on the number of students who can attend Good News Clubs and has agreed to distribute permission slips in the same manner as secular groups. Again, Liberty Counsel intervened and sent demand letters to school officials there. Liberty Counsel says that after the district removed the cap, attendance at the clubs quickly jumped from 25 to 54. The clubs can now meet immediately after school and permission slips are now distributed in the same manner as with the secular clubs.
In Akron, Ohio, city schools have also reversed an earlier decision and are allowing the distribution of parent permission slips for Good News Clubs. While the school district earlier allowed secular after-school programs to distribute information and permission slips, requests for Good News Clubs were denied. After receiving a Liberty Counsel “demand letter,” the district has agreed to provide equal treatment to the Christian clubs. Bryan Rush, a local coordinator for CEF, now plans on starting Good News Clubs in all local elementary schools.
Mathew D. Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel and dean of Liberty University School of Law, says, “Good News Clubs are good news for parents, children and public schools. These Christian clubs have a positive influence on the lives of young children. They are the best thing to happen in public schools in a long time.”
There are similar cases to these three that occur year-after-year across our nation, even though the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that Good News Clubs must be provided with the same access to school facilities as other after-school programs.
Civil libertarians have done a good job of falsely convincing school officials that Christian kids are to be treated differently. Many school officials subsequently don’t understand (or refuse to understand) that equal access means equal treatment for everyone.
But it is Christian students who often must initiate legal battles to gain this equal treatment, because they are treated with contempt and disdain.
In other cases, Christian students have been forced to legally battle for their right to sing age-old Christmas carols during school pageants, or go to court to claim their rights to communicate their faith in Jesus Christ in the classroom, or initiate lawsuits because their valedictory speeches have been expunged of any Christian or biblical reference.
We are living at a time when many in our nation wish to purge the public square of any and all references to Jesus Christ – something our forefathers never intended. And they have made our public schools one of the key battlefields to accomplish their godless agenda.
Thankfully, groups like Liberty Counsel are there to represent these students, their families and teachers who will fight to retain their religious freedoms. I’m proud to be on their side in this vital battle.