Bartlett, Tennessee — May 31, 2017. Today, the Center for Religious Expression (CRE) sent a letter to Bartlett School District officials, pointing out how their policy persists in discriminating against an extracurricular bible club.
In response to a threatening letter from an activist atheist group, Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), the Bartlett School District shut down a before-school extracurricular bible club. CRE sent a letter to school district officials, explaining the unconstitutionality of their action in selectively shutting down a student club because it is religious. Continuing to defend the shutdown, the school responded that the district will now require religious clubs to be privately-sponsored, and the club lacks this sponsorship.
CRE’s follow-up letter stresses how the district’s policy remains discriminatory. Nonreligious groups may freely be sponsored by anyone, including teachers, but religious groups like the bible club are treated unequally. In addition to discriminatorily imposing conditions solely on religious clubs, the policy violates the First Amendment rights of teachers who want to participate in religious clubs during their off-hours. The letter asks the school district to cease its discriminatory policy.
“The school district cannot ban teachers from participating in religious clubs, and cannot require religious clubs to endure more burdensome conditions than other student clubs,” said CRE Chief Counsel Nate Kellum.