The Buena Park Elementary School District is being sued by evangelical Christians who find it unfair their nonprofit group has to pay to rent space for afterschool meetings while the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts do not.
The Child Evangelism Fellowship, which filed the federal lawsuit in Los Angeles, is not seeking monetary damages, only the right to assemble for free at Beatty Elementary School.
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The school district is so far withholding comment.
The fellowship is represented in U.S. District Court in LA by the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), a Christian, pro-life legal organization based in Washington, D.C. The ACLJ explains the beef this way on its website:
The "Good News Club," a local affiliate of the international, Bible-centered organization Child Evangelism Fellowship, provides school kids with extracurricular educational programming and recreational activities that teach about life from a biblical perspective. Child Evangelism Fellowship's West Orange County chapter was denied a request to use district facilities free of charge, despite California Education Code allowing nonprofit, youth-oriented groups to use public school facilities at no cost. Similar nonprofit groups have historically been permitted to meet after hours without charge at Buena Park schools.
The reported bill to the fellowship for holding a series of meetings at Beatty: $4,300.
"This selective application of policy speaks ill of the Buena Park School District's respect for and understanding of the Constitution," David French, the ACLJ senior counsel, says on the website. "Freedom doesn't stop at the schoolhouse door. Child Evangelism Fellowship has every right to equal treatment and access to public school facilities for its after-school events."
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To forbid the fellowship from doing so violates the First Amendment on free speech, free exercise of religion and establishment of religion grounds, as well as the Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection under the law, charges ACLJ.
"Ultimately, this case is about legal equality," French observes. "Religious speech is entitled to the same access as any other kind of speech, and religious students deserve the same treatment as all other students."
To read the lawsuit, click here: Child Evangelism Fellowship Inc. of West Orange County v. Buena Park School District