Christian Club Sues Hawaii Department Of Education After Allegedly Being Barred From School Grounds
by Kate Anderson, Daily Caller News Foundation, January 24, 2024
A Christian after-school club organization filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the Hawaii Department of Education after allegedly being barred from operating a club on several elementary school campuses.
Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) of Hawaii applied in 2022 and in 2023 to become a registered club at multiple schools throughout the state but was denied approval both times, according to the complaint. The organization argues in the lawsuit that the department is discriminating against its Good News Clubs due to their religious beliefs, while allowing other non-religious clubs to operate on school grounds.
“For nearly two years, Defendants have blocked CEF from hosting its elementary school Good News Clubs in certain District facilities that are open to other, similarly situated non-religious organizations,” the lawsuit reads. “Defendants’ policies of unequal access, pretextual denials, and hostility to CEF’s religious message violate the Constitution and have denied some Hawaii elementary school students access to free, positive, and character-building Good News Clubs that enrich countless students’ lives in other Hawaii schools and throughout the country.”
One school told CEF they couldn’t get approved “because it was religious,” while another claimed that they didn’t have enough space. One principal said that she “did not like the idea of a Good News Club meeting at the elementary school,” and some follow-up requests were simply ignored, according to the complaint.
Liberty Counsel, the firm representing CEF, explained in the lawsuit that the department “through the Superintendent Defendants and other officials, has denied each of these use requests submitted by CEF and either expressly or effectively denied every appeal.”
“The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that public schools cannot discriminate against Christian viewpoints regarding the use of school facilities,” Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, said in a press release. “Child Evangelism Fellowship gives children a biblically based education that includes moral and character development. Good News Clubs should be in every public elementary school and that includes in these Hawaii schools.”
The Hawaii Department of Education did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
AFN: Liberty Counsel says it 'tried to educate' Hawaii about blocking after-school Christian club (afn.net)
CNS: 'Good News Club' Files Lawsuit After Hawaii School District Denies Access | CBN News
BN: Christian group sues Hawaii's education department for blocking its after-school club from public schools | Blaze Media (theblaze.com)
CP: Good News Club sues Hawaii officials for blocking operations | U.S. News (christianpost.com)