School Bible Club Sues Oklahoma School District
When it comes to religion, the First Amendment to the United States Constitution says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
The goal of our nation’s founders was to make sure you and everyone else has the freedom to practice the religion of your choice — not a religion forced on you by the government.
Many of their families came to this country to escape religious persecution.
And they didn’t want to have the same problem here.
As a result of the First Amendment, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and everybody else have the freedom to believe as they choose.
And people who don’t believe in God or religion have that freedom, too.
No one else has the constitutional right to tell you what to believe — or how.
While you consider all that, consider a battle that’s happening right now in Owasso, Oklahoma.
Owasso’s school district is being sued on behalf of a Bible club that meets at Northeast Elementary School — a group called “Kids for Christ.”
Attorneys for the group say the school district is violating the group’s constitutional rights.
According to a report by Tulsa, Oklahoma, TV station KOTV, the school district ruled that the group could not distribute a flyer to other kids because the flyer contained the phrase, “Reaching the World for Christ.”
The group also claims it’s not allowed to publicize its events on school bulletin boards because its a religious group.
Because of that, the group’s attorneys say “Kids for Christ” is a victim of religious discrimination — discrimination they call unconstitutional.
They say “Kids for Christ” should be treated like any other student group.
“The school shouldn’t be choosing sides and saying, ‘We’re going to allow favorable treatment to some organizations but then unfavorable treatment to religious organizations,’” the group’s attorney Matt Sharp told KOTV.
Owasso Public Schools Superintendent Clark Ogilvie denies that the school district is discriminating against “Kids for Christ.”
“Owasso School District has never denied access to any religious groups in its schools,” Ogilvie said, in a statement to Tulsa TV station KOKI. “Religious groups have met in the district’s facilities for years without discrimination but are asked to follow certain guidelines/school policies.”
According to KOKI’s report, that particular policy says, “No literature will be distributed that contains primarily religious, objectionable or political overtones which may be beneficial to any particular group or business at the expense of others.”
What’s the reason for that policy?
The First Amendment.
Because of freedom of religion doesn’t just mean your freedom of religion.
It means everyone’s freedom of religion.
The Constitution says we all have to respect each other’s religious beliefs.
In that context, posting a flier at Northeast Elementary that contains the words, “Reaching the World for Christ,” might be interpreted as trying to influence someone else’s beliefs.
And that would be unconstitutional.
No one is telling the members of “Kids for Christ” that they can’t be Christian.
The school district’s policy is just designed to make sure that “Kids for Christ” don’t force anyone else to believe as they do.
However, attorneys for “Kids for Christ” would disagree with that interpretation of the Constitution.
They say the Owasso School District’s policy is unconstitutional.
It “chills the speech of community groups who seek to engage in private religious expression,” according to a report by the Tulsa World newspaper.
It’ll now be up to a federal judge to decide who’s right.
What do you think?