Todd Starnes, of Fox News. has a story of a school discriminating against a group of students that want to form a Christian club at their school called Students United In Faith (SUIF). The school in question is Ward Melville High School, part of the Three Village Central School District on Long Island New York.
SUIF was denied the ability to form a club last year and the school was threatened with a lawsuit by Liberty Institute, “a law firm specializing in religious liberty cases.” Starnes reports that Superintendent Cheryl Pedisich reversed the ban after an investigation. She said the reason for rejection was inaccurately conveyed.
Again, this year, the school denied SUIF a club at the school. John Raney, the founder of SUIF, told Starnes-
“I feel like they have something against me and my faith. I feel marginalized.”
Starnes writes, “Nearly 20 young people wanted to join the club – but the school said no.” The story says the SUIF club is being refused support from the school due to their Christian faith.
When Starnes contacted the school they sent a prepared statement to him. The statement said-
The religious club called Students United in Faith was denied because contractual guidelines regarding minimum participation (20 students) in student co–curricular programs was not met, nor did Ward Melville High School have the financial means to fund this program. The district does not have a practice of discrimination of any kind. We embrace our diverse school community and strive to maintain an environment that promotes tolerance, understanding and respect for all.
So, the truth is not that the school is discriminating against Christians, it’s just that the number of students that want to form the club does not meet the minimum number of 20 that the school’s contractual guidelines mandates. This 20 member guideline is confirmed on another story on newsday.com.
This year, after the school district denied the SUIF group from being a school club once more, Liberty Institute again threatened a lawsuit based on religious discrimination. This is based on the fact that the school allows other student clubs but has tried to deny the SUIF club which the Liberty Institute says violates the Equal Access Act. That act requires all groups be treated the same. It doesn’t seem to matter to the Liberty Institute, SUIF, or Todd Starnes, that the club does not have the required number of students in order to qualify for a club.
Of course, the school district caved and is allowing SUIF to form a club even though they are short a few students from complying with the guideline.
The ironic part comes in when Starnes writes this about the school district-
It seems to me they’re just engaged in a bit of bullying and intimidation.
It seems to me that the bullies here are the students of SUIF and the lawyers of Liberty Institute who are bullying the school into going against contractual guidelines in order to give the “nearly 20” persecuted Christians a school club when they don’t meet the minimum number of members. This club is not being treated like other clubs, they are being allowed to form without the required number of students. Sounds like special privilege instead of religious discrimination.
The intimidation comes in the form of a federal lawsuit staring the school district in the face. The district must have decided it is less expensive to give into the demands of Liberty Institute and the SUIF students than it is to fight this out in court.
Who are the bullies again Todd?