Christian Athletes Win Rights at School after Lawsuit Filed

Why does it take a lawsuit to get schools to uphold the constitutional rights of Christians?

Time and time again, uninformed public school officials trample over the rights of Christian students and teachers, fearing that they might get sued by liberal atheists. Their fear drives them to over react to the extreme that it forces Christians to file the lawsuits to regain the rights that were stripped from them.

Just off hand, there’s the case of students reading their Bibles during personal time and at after-school programs, students handing out invitations with Christian messages and many many more.

Now we can add Mount Dora High School to the growing list of over-reactive school officials. When the Fellowship of Christian Athletes applied to form a club on the campus of Mount Dora High School, the Lake County School Board declined their request. They deemed the Fellowship of Christian Athletes to be a ‘non-curricular’ club and therefore they would not be granted access to school property or the right to advertise and announce their meetings like other secular clubs do.

Liberty Counsel got involved and filed a lawsuit in April to challenge the legality of the school board’s ruling, saying that the FCA club should have the same legal rights as other clubs. Matt Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel predicted that the case was a ‘slam dunk win.

Prior to the filing of the lawsuit, Liberty Counsel sent a letter to the school board advising them that their actions were illegal in denying the Christian club the same rights as secular clubs. Staver had hoped that the school board would revise their stance in a timely matter, but after not hearing from them, he felt they had no choice but to file the lawsuit.

Before the lawsuit could go to trial, the school board and met and voted unanimously to change the ruling and classify the Fellowship of Christian Athletes club as a ‘curricular’ club. Now they have access to meeting on school property, advertising and PA announcements like all of the other secular clubs do.

However, Staver now says that the school board is going to have to pay for some of the litigation costs involved in filing the lawsuit. Liberty Counsel often represents clients like Fellowship of Christian Athletes at no cost, but that does not mean that it doesn’t cost them to file the lawsuits when necessary.

Had the school board done the right thing to begin with, they could have saved themselves the embarrassment and cost of their fears of doing anything with Christians. It seems that many schools and school boards have no clue what the constitutional rights of Christian students, teachers and clubs are, which is why I advocate to have every teacher and school administrator to take a course in the constitutional rights of students and schools. This would prevent hundreds of cases of illegal discrimination and save schools tons of money spent for legal fees.