Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Good News Club Wins In New Jersey

In Carteret,NJ the Carteret School District is now allowing a Good News Club to meet at the Minue Elementary School after Liberty Counsel sent a letter to the District demanding equal access to the school gymnasium after school. Good News Clubs are sponsored by Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF), an international non-profit organization which sponsors Good News Clubs in all 50 states and in 156 countries.
Tammy Wojtko, the state coordinator for Child Evangelism Fellowship of New Jersey, Inc., works with clubs at elementary schools all over the state. The building manager initially approved CEF's use of the facilities, but Principal Cheryl Bolinger blocked the meetings when she learned that the Good News Club teaches morals and character development from a Biblical perspective. Bolinger instructed Wojtko not to recruit children to attend the free meetings and refused to allow fliers to be sent home with parents to inform them about the Club. Then Bolinger informed Wojtko that CEF could not use the school facilities, even though CEF paid the facility use fee.
Liberty Counsel sent a demand letter to the district superintendent warning that discriminatory treatment is unconstitutional. The school previously allowed a karate club to use the gymnasium after school. Other after-school student enrichment programs have used school facilities and the District distributed their fliers. The District is obliged to permit Good News Clubs equal access to its facilities and equal treatment. After receiving the demand letter, the school district's attorney informed Liberty Counsel that CEF can hold club meetings and distribute fliers to recruit students.
The United States Supreme Court has already ruled that Good News Clubs must have the same access to school facilities as other after-school programs. A school cannot reject CEF's use of facilities because of its religious nature. Federal appeals courts have confirmed that equal treatment specifically includes the right to have literature distributed on the same terms and conditions as other groups.
Public schools should open their doors wide and welcome Good News Clubs. The good these clubs provide to kids compels an open invitation and the Constitution requires it. Good News Clubs help kids learn morals and character development.