Following the reopening of after-school programs in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Child Evangelism Fellowship of Rhode Island filed an application to resume its Good News Club in one of the schools in the city of Providence. After not receiving any news of approval after waiting for a period of a year and a half, CEF has filed a lawsuit against Providence Public School District this month. According to Attorney Mathew Starver, who has represented CEF for 22 years, Good News Clubs have previously also suffered discrimination from around 200 school districts or boards as they focus on teaching children about God’s love and the Bible.
World News Group reports:
When after-school programs reopened after the COVID-19 pandemic, Child Evangelism Fellowship of Rhode Island was ready.
The fellowship filed an application to restart its Good News Club at a school in Providence. When it started a club in 2019, almost 50 children signed up, but only 20 could attend due to space constraints. COVID-19 closures prevented club meetings for most of 2020 and early 2021. In the fall of 2021, CEF also filed a second application to use space in another elementary school to start a new club.
After waiting over a year and a half for approval of those applications, CEF sued Providence Public School District on March 10. The lawsuit asks a federal court to order the district to grant the fellowship equal access to school facilities for its after-school programs.
For CEF, the circumstances are all too familiar. Attorney Mathew Staver from the nonprofit firm Liberty Counsel has represented CEF nationwide for 22 years. During that time, Good News Clubs have faced discrimination from approximately 200 school boards or districts because the clubs teach children about the Bible and God’s love for them while encouraging character development, Staver said.
According to Staver, the vast majority of schools change their positions after receiving a letter from Liberty Counsel explaining a 2001 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of Good News Clubs. In some cases, however, CEF must go to court to defend its constitutional rights.
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