Ruling: Religious Bigotry Not Allowed

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Child Evangelism Fellowship is savoring the sweet taste of victory after a federal court decided Monday that a Virginia school district was guilty of religious discrimination.

The school district had been charging CEF's Good News Clubs a fee for using school facilities to hold after-school meetings while waiving the fee for secular groups - actions which the judge deemed unconstitutional. The court has now granted CEF a preliminary injunction.

"The likelihood of Plaintiff's success is high," U.S. District Judge Raymond A. Jackson predicted in Monday's ruling.

The Liberty Counsel, a legal nonprofit organization, is representing CEF in this case.

"This particular school allows a lot of organizations to use the facilities after school including the Scouts and many other secular organizations, and charges in this case Good News Clubs because they're religious," Liberty Counsel founder and chairman Mathew Staver told CBN News.

He added, "If these particular facilities are used by secular organizations to have outreaches to individual students then you must not exclude organizations simply because they have a Christian viewpoint."

This is not the first time the Good News Clubs and other similar organizations have run into trouble.

Since the Supreme Court ruled in 2001 that it is unconstitutional to engage in viewpoint discrimination, a string of legal cases have been reported, according to the Freedom Forum.

"I think people will have to be educated about the Good News Club case before it has an impact on how these groups are treated," Staver told the Forum.

But he dismisses the notion that this most recent case is a matter of ignorance on the part of the Virginia school district.

"In this particular case, it's not just ignorance because we adjudicated for months to try to resolve this. But the school district did not want to listen," Staver told CBN News.

"This particular school has a unique way of justifying its practice," he said. "It says that the Boy Scouts Equal Access Act, which is a federal law, requires them to treat the Boy Scouts differently than Good News Clubs when in fact that's not the case."

CBN News contacted the school district who was unable to comment since the case is still a pending legal matter.

While Monday's ruling represents a victory for CEF, it's not over yet.

Staver said," We're going to be working with the school district to draft a new policy now to make sure this type of discrimination doesn't happen again. But in fact the school could resist and want to appeal the matter."

Nevertheless, Staver remains optimistic.

He said, "The is great news for the Good News Clubs and certainly for the students and parents and the school district. We're going to use this precedent around the country to make sure other doors are open that have previously been locked."

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