Tags: Long Island | Christian | Club | SUIF | Liberty Institute

Long Island School Relents, Allows Christian Club

By    |   Friday, 10 Oct 2014 01:46 PM

For the second time in two school years, facing legal action by the Liberty Institute, the Ward Melville High School on Long Island, N.Y., has backed down and reversed its decision denying recognition to a Christian students' club.

Liberty Institute attorney Hiram Sasser told Fox News, "We are hoping that the school doesn't make this an annual tradition of violating the Equal Access Act."

John Sheahan, attorney for the Three Village Central School District, told Fox News: "Please be advised the district has decided to alter its position on this issue. In light of this change, the district will grant SUIF [Students United In Faith] recognition as a student group for the 2014-15 school year and reverses any contrary decision."

Students John Raney and Jeremy Johnson, founders of SUIF, turned to the Liberty Institute once more when the group was not allowed to meet at the school. The school claimed SUIF's membership numbers did not meet the minimum qualifications for a school club.

However, the school, located in East Setauket, N.Y., hosts some 33 other clubs, including a Gay Straight Alliance club, which raised conservative religious hackles.

In an Oct. 6 letter to the school district and principal Dr. Alan Baum, Liberty Institute wrote, "It seems obvious that the school's stated reasons for rejection of John's application are once again simply pretext — we are not aware of any similarly situated clubs that have received such denials. Thus, it is clear that SUIF's application was rejected due to religious discrimination and retaliation."

Liberty Institute threatened to sue if the decision was not reversed.

"John Raney and Jeremy Johnson may just be high school students, but they did more for liberty than all of Washington, D.C.," Sasser told Fox News.

"Congress can pass laws and the courts can issue opinions, but if great Americans like John Raney and Jeremy Johnson don’t take a bold stand for freedom, we will all lose our liberty."

In the past, Dr. Baum told the Kaleidoscope, the school newspaper, a Bible club had been canceled because of dwindling membership, and other clubs, such as the Zumba club, Friendship Circle, Model Congress, Lift Up Long Island, and a martial arts club were also canceled.

In an editorial, the school newspaper wrote, "To paint our school administration as religious hating and 'sleazy' is simply ignorant and uninformed, and to sensationalize a club as a torch of hope for all Christians when in reality it is accepting of all faiths is a distortion of the truth."

However, Sasser, the institute's litigation director, said on the Liberty Institute website, "This is not a complicated issue. Simply put, public schools cannot discriminate against religious clubs and must treat them the same as other student clubs on campus."

Todd Harrison, lead attorney for the students, added, "The decision to reject SUIF’s request to continue as a club on campus is in clear and direct violation of the Equal Access Act of 1984, Supreme Court precedent, and the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. There is simply no legal basis for the school’s decision in this case."

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For the second time in two school years, facing legal action by the Liberty Institute, the Ward Melville High School on Long Island, N.Y., has backed down and reversed its decision denying recognition to a Christian students' club.
Long Island, Christian, Club, SUIF, Liberty Institute
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2014-46-10
Friday, 10 Oct 2014 01:46 PM
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