Rhode Island school district faces lawsuit over blocking Christian student groups
"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 Girl Scouts," the suit claims.
A Rhode Island school district is facing a lawsuit for alleged discrimination over its decision to allow secular student groups to meet on its campuses while barring certain evangelical Christian organizations.
Dr. Javier Montanez, the Providence Public School District superintendent has allegedly refused to allow Child Evangelism Fellowship's (CEF) Good News Clubs to meet at his district's facilities. Liberty Counsel filed the suit with the United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island on behalf of CEF.
"For nearly two years, Defendant Providence Public School District has blocked Plaintiff CEF Rhode Island from hosting its elementary school Good News Clubs in District facilities that are open to other organizations," the suit alleges. "The District’s policies of unequal access and hostility to CEF Rhode Island’s religious message violate the Constitution and have denied the District’s elementary school students access to free, positive, and character-building Good News Clubs that enrich countless student’s lives in other Rhode Island school districts and throughout the country."
"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 Girl Scouts," it further contends.
Liberty Counsel further highlighted the mission statements of the various secular organizations the district permitted to meet on its campuses, describing them as "similarly situated" to CEF's Good News Clubs.
"CEF Rhode Island, however, offers its programming from a Christian religious viewpoint, while the other organizations offer their similar programming from a nonreligious viewpoint," they acknowledged. Liberty Counsel then pointed to "increasingly burdensome requirements" the district had imposed on CEF, calling them "pretextual disguises for the District’s hostility towards CEF Rhode Island’s Christian identity, message, and viewpoint."
Ben Whedon is an editor and reporter for Just the News. Follow him on Twitter.