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
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