First Liberty Institute is demanding a New York high school approve a request to form a religious club.
First Liberty Institute made its demands known Wednesday in a letter to Wappingers Central School District, which oversees Ketcham High School. It is there that freshman Daniela Barca wants to form a Christian club, but First Liberty attorney Keisha Russell says the school has repeatedly denied her request.
"We demanded that under the Constitution and the Equal Access Act … they approve her club immediately the way they have approved other clubs at the school," First Liberty attorney Keisha Russell tells OneNewsNow. "We set a deadline for them to respond and we're expecting them to respond."
OneNewsNow is seeking comment from the Wappingers Central School District and/or the principal at Ketcham High School.
Last year, First Liberty Institute defended a chapter of Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) that Russell says was being treated unfairly at a school in Kentucky. "We were able to get them equal treatment after we wrote a very similar demand letter under the Equal Access Act," Russell points out.
The Equal Access Act of 1984 is a federal law that says if a high school that receives federal funds approves of other non-curricular clubs – non-curricular meaning something that isn't math, science, etc. – then they cannot discriminate against religious clubs. Moreover, they cannot censor what the clubs are talking about, based on the speech.
"If a school district and any government entity can ignore the law blatantly in a way that Wappingers is ignoring the law, then it will only take a very limited amount of time for all of our constitutional freedoms to begin to erode," Russell warns.
"So, we always have to pay attention when the government is ignoring the Constitution in order to advance their own ends – because it will happen to everyone eventually."