Indiana School District Stops Teacher-Led After-School Christian Club After Atheist Group Complains

An Indiana public school district says it will no longer allow teachers to lead an extracurricular Christian club for elementary school students.

The Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation has responded to pressure from the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation, which complained earlier this year about the existence of the Fellowship of Christian Students club that met at Daniel Wertz Elementary School.

FFRF initially sent a letter arguing that the FCS, which was being led and organized by three district employees, violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

The school district initially responded to the atheist legal group with a letter in April from EVSC Chief of Staff Rick Cameron which explained that the club doesn’t pay rental fees to the school district because it “is a faculty-sponsored club similar in form and function to a chess club, a soccer club, or the GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance.)”

In a May 11 letter, FFRF attorney Ryan Jayne further argued that the three school officials leading the club used their positions and school resources to promote the club and even sent out a flyer and posted on social media.

“This club is undeniably school-sponsored,” Jayne argued in his letter. “It would be disingenuous to argue that the club is student-initiated or student-run, especially given the young age of the students at Daniel Wertz Elementary.”

The legal group again pressed the issue in correspondence dated from July 16.

Last Tuesday, the school district’s attorney, Patrick Shoulders, sent a letter to Jayne suggesting that teachers will no longer lead the FCS group. The letter states that “no school in the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation will have a teacher-led Christian students club in the academic year 2018–2019 or thereafter.”

“The EVCS will continue to comply with all federal and state laws governing clubs and organizations meeting on school property,” the letter from Shoulders adds.

Although FFRF praised the school attorney’s letter as proof it “convinced an Indiana elementary school to refrain from holding a teacher-led religious club,” the school corporation objected to the characterization of Shoulders’ July 31 letter.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith