Bible club sues Calif. school district over fee

Friday, November 23, 2012

LOS ANGELES — A Christian youth club sued an Orange County school district this week, saying the district’s refusal to allow the group to use facilities free of charge violates its constitutional rights.

The American Center for Law and Justice, a Washington D.C.-based constitutional law advocacy group, filed the lawsuit Nov. 19 in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on behalf of the Good News Club, an affiliate of Child Evangelism Fellowship, against the Buena Park School District.

David French, senior counsel for the ACLJ, said the fellowship asked the district to use classroom space after-hours last spring and was told it would have to pay $4,255 annually because the meetings would be tantamount to religious services.

The club’s purpose is to provide children with after-school educational and recreational activities with a biblical perspective, not hold services, French said.

Meanwhile, the district allows Scouts and other nonprofit youth groups to meet on school grounds at no cost, French said.

District Superintendent Greg Magnuson said he hadn’t seen the lawsuit and could not comment.

The suit said the district is violating the club’s First and 14th amendment rights of free exercise of religion and equal protection under the law.

French said several other school districts allow the club to use facilities free of charge. The fellowship had tried negotiating with the district to no avail and sued as a last resort, he said.

“Child Evangelism Fellowship has every right to equal treatment and access to public school facilities for its after-school events,” French said.

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