Appeals Court to Hear Case About School District Discrimination Against Christian Club

Aug 24, 2006

Richmond, VA - Today Liberty Counsel filed its Initial Brief with the federal court of appeals on behalf of Child Evangelism Fellowship of South Carolina (CEF), which sponsors an after-school "Good News Club." The case involves a challenge to a discriminatory policy of Anderson School District 5 in Anderson, South Carolina.

CEF was charged a fee for use of District facilities, although fees are waived whenever the District deems it "to be in the best interest of the district." Although the District waived the fee for such groups as the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and the YMCA after-school program, it refused to grant a fee waiver to the Good News Club. After the fees became too expensive to bear, CEF was forced to discontinue the Good News Club, and a lawsuit was filed. The District then amended the policy, but this policy further institutionalized the past discrimination. The new policy expressly grants free use to the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, YMCA, Students Against Destructive Decisions and other "similar groups," but still requires that CEF pay a fee. The case is now pending before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia. This is the same court that several days ago ruled in favor of CEF in a separate case arising out of Montgomery County, Maryland.

Mathew D. Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel, stated: "Putting a financial barrier based on the religious viewpoint of groups seeking access to public property violates the right to free speech. Whether the District bans a group from accessing its facilities because of the group's religious viewpoint, or places a financial barrier on the group based on its religious viewpoint, the outcome is the same -- the Constitution has been violated. Equal access means equal treatment. Good News Clubs are great for kids. The clubs teach respect, morality and character development. Instead of charging discriminatory fees, public school ought to embrace Good News Clubs."