Even as schools across the country consider playing host to Satanic student clubs, one district in Rhode Island has taken a firm stand against anything related to Christianity.
— Heidi Ganahl (@heidiganahl) March 4, 2023
In response to the Providence Public School District’s decision to refuse members of the Child Evangelism Fellowship’s Good News Club to meet at its facilities, the Liberty Counsel filed a discrimination lawsuit in federal court.
The case dates back to the 2019-2020, when the club initially received approval to meet on campus but was forced to cancel most of its events due to the pandemic. The following year, the district’s superintendent allegedly expressed concerns that the group would not “accommodate non-Christians.”
Liberty Counsel asserts that the district said it needed additional time to consider the application and, in the two school years since, has not provided a decision. Roger Gannam, the firm’s assistant vice president of legal affairs, noted that the district allows other clubs with similar objectives to meet, noting that there has been no apparent change to explain why the initial approval would be rescinded.
“It’s really hard to say because the school district officials have given us no explanation for the long delays to our applications,” he said. “Other organizations like Girls on the Run, and Boys and Girls Clubs that also teach moral and character development have been allowed since COVID but for whatever reason, they are stringing out the response to the Good News Clubs, and it effectively denied them because it’s been two years.”
Citing the district’s “policies of unequal access and hostility to CEF Rhode Island’s religious message,” the lawsuit claims that the group’s constitutional rights were violated by a refusal to approve its request.
“The District has allowed numerous other organizations the free use of its facilities for afterschool programs under approved Rental of School Facilities Applications, such as Boys & Girls Clubs, Boy Scouts (Cub Scouts), and Girls Scouts,” Liberty Counsel wrote.
The only difference, the lawsuit alleges, is the Good News Club’s faith-based component.
“CEF Rhode Island, however, offers its programming from a Christian religious viewpoint, while the other organizations offer their similar programming from a nonreligious viewpoint,” the lawsuit asserts, accusing the district of implementing “increasingly burdensome requirements” on the club that amount to “pretextual disguises for the District’s hostility towards CEF Rhode Island’s Christian identity, message, and viewpoint.”