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Published On: Wed, Oct 8th, 2014

New York high school bans Christian club ‘again’

Educators at Ward Melville High School are attempting to ban a Christian club after a failed attempt in 2013.

“I feel like they have something against me and my faith,” 17-year-old John Raney said to Fox News. “I feel marginalized.”

Last year, the school banned John’s club because of its religious nature. Attorneys with Liberty Institute, a law firm specializing in religious liberty cases, stepped in and threatened to sue. After a school district investigation, Superintendent Cheryl Pedisich reversed the ban and apologized to John.

John is the founder of Students United in Faith, a service-oriented C

photo Simon Dean Media via Flickr

photo Simon Dean Media via Flickr

hristian club. Nearly 20 young people wanted to join the club – but the school said no.

“I wanted to start the club because I thought it would provide a safe space for Christians to meet and talk about their faith,” he said.

 Pedisich had told television station WCBS the initial reason for rejection was “apparently inaccurately conveyed” back during that fiasco, now, nine months later, the school is telling the Christians the club cannot continue.

John picked up the phone and called Liberty Institute, a nationally known religious liberty law firm. “I cannot imagine why they would come back a second time to discriminate,” said attorney Hiram Sasser. “For some reason, Ward Melville High School does not want to follow the Equal Access law.”

Sasser fired off a letter to the school district demanding the Christian students be allowed to form their club.

“This is not a complicated issue,” Sasser wrote. “Simply put, public schools cannot discriminate against religious clubs and must treat them equally, and provide them equal access to school facilities, as non-religious clubs.”

Attorney Sasser was able to compile a list of all the school’s clubs – 33 in all. They’ve got everything from a fishing club to a ceramics club. They even have a Gay-Straight Alliance.

“They let all these other clubs meet with no problem whatsoever,” John told me. “But the second me and my friends mention faith or mention God, they get up in arms about it – like there’s something wrong with believing in these things.”

Sasser said the law is clear. It doesn’t matter if only two people wanted to join the Christian club – the school would have to accommodate them.

“If they allow the fishing club, they have to allow the Christian club, too,” he said. “They cannot exclude the Christian club.”

About the Author

- Roxanne "Butter" Bracco began with the Dispatch as Pittsburgh Correspondent, but will be providing reports and insights from Washington DC, Maryland and the surrounding region. Contact Roxie aka "Butter" at [email protected] ATTN: Roxie or Butter Bracco

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  1. Wednesday Link List | Thinking Out Loud says:

    […] church and state collides with the principle that you can’t exclude on religious grounds as a New York high school makes a second attempt to shut down a Christian […]

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