Friday, January 26, 2007

Religious Club Gains Equal Access to Pennsylvania Public Elementary Schools

In Clinton County, PA Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF), which sponsors after-school Good News Clubs, has recently gained equal access to use an elementary school facility in Clinton County. Liberty Counsel has been successful in helping CEF fight discrimination against Good News Clubs all across America.
Good News Clubs have been held in two elementary schools in Clinton County in recent years, but CEF was recently advised that, unlike other groups, it would have to pay a fee for use of school facilities. The school district policy allows free access for local groups that are "nonprofit, nonsectarian and working for the welfare of the community/society in general."
Don Colburn, director the local chapter of CEF, was first told that CEF would be charged a fee because CEF was not local. After CEF showed that it had a local office, Colburn was then told that CEF must pay because the Good News Clubs are "sectarian."
Liberty Counsel wrote a letter to the board advising that the First Amendment requires equal access to school facilities for religiously based, nonprofit youth groups such as the Good News Clubs. Equal access means that groups are given access on the same terms and conditions as other nonprofit youth groups like the Boy Scouts.
After the board received Liberty Counsel's letter, the school superintendent advised Colburn that the board decided to permit the Good News Club to meet in the school at no cost, just like other similar groups.