Rhode Island School District To Allow Christian Clubs After Advocacy Group Files Lawsuit

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Kate Anderson Contributor
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Providence Public School District (PPSD) came to an agreement with Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) Tuesday following a lawsuit after the district allegedly refused to allow Christian clubs on school property.

The CEF filed a lawsuit against the district in March after administrators revoked a previous contract allowing Good News clubs on school grounds and refused to approve a new one for several years. PPSD and CEF agreed Tuesday after a U.S. District Court judge approved a consent agreement that allows the Christian clubs on campus, according to a press release from Liberty Counsel. (RELATED: Court Sides With Catholic School That Let Employee Go Over Her Gay Marriage)

“The Providence Public School District reached a consent agreement providing Child Evangelism Fellowship access to its facilities as similarly situated nonreligious organizations such as Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and Girls on the Run,” a district spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “Good News Club was at PPSD within William D’Abate Elementary School for the 2019-2020 school year.”

In 2019, the district approved an application by CEF for its Good News clubs to use school property for the upcoming school year but was forced to suspend all activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, according to the lawsuit. CEF attempted to reapply in 2021, but was met with concerns from the district about how the clubs would serve non-Christians as well and was forced to provide all lesson plans and instruction materials for review.

Despite multiple requests for approval of the application, the district reportedly did not reach a conclusion on the issue for another two years, prompting the lawsuit. The school district did not admit to all of the allegations in the lawsuit but wishes “to resolve this matter now and hereby consent to entry of this Consent Order,” according to the order.

“The Parties agree that Providence Public School District is required, under the First Amendment, to provide Child Evangelism Fellowship access to District facilities that is equal to and on the same terms as other similarly situated nonreligious organizations offering programs to students in the District,” the order reads.

Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said in the press release that the decision was a “great victory” for students and families in Rhode Island.

“This is a great victory for Child Evangelism Fellowship and the students and parents of the Providence School District,” Staver said. “Public schools cannot discriminate against Christian viewpoints regarding use of school facilities. 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.”

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