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Chapter 2 Religious Freedom

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Michael Rowe

on 11 January 2017

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Transcript of Chapter 2 Religious Freedom

Use of Facilities by Religious Groups
by Jackie Extrand and Mike Rowe

Gayle Dixon is the principal of a midsize metropolitan high school.
The school maintains an open forum, thereby allowing non curricular groups to use facilities during non instructional times, including student religious groups.
Does the club have legitimate grounds to file suit? Why or why not?
Yes. All Americans have the legal right to file suit.
Why would the club file suit?
Equal Access Act of 1894:
- Provides student religious groups equal opportunities to access high school facilities as enjoyed by other non curricular clubs
Open-Forum has been established.
Is Dixon justified in rejecting the club's request to use school facilities? Why or why not?
Limited school forum has been established, however, the club is discriminating by mandating its officers must be Christians.
Lemon Test
to determine if the school district’s restrictions on club’s leadership requirement passes Establishment Clause.

Does the bible club have the right to specify that only Christians may be club officers? Why or why not?
If the club is holding a meeting in a private setting, they may have Christians as club officers.

Since they are holding a meeting at a public school, this fosters an environment of discrimination and does not pass the Establishment Clause.
If you were the principal, would you handle this situation any differently?
How do you think the court would rule in this case?
I think that the court would find that Dixon violated the law, because her view point is discrimination. There is no violation of the establishment clause because it is after school activity, and we are assuming anyone is welcome to join. The club needs to understand it is not sponsored by the school, and that other non-christian groups are able to use the facility.

Good News Club v. Milford
Lambs Chapel v. Center Moriches
Widmar v. Vincent
Rosenberger Case
What are the administrative implications of this case?
*You could get sued.
*Bad press for the district and school.
*It costs a lot of money to defend these types of lawsuits.
*You could have unhappy christian members at the school district.
*Possible declining enrollment.
A bible club has requested the use of school facilities, but Dixon learned that the club's charter allows only Christians to be club officers. In her mind, this provision of the charter is discriminatory. Based on this provision, she rejected the club's request to use school facilities. The club filed suit.
Term review
The First Amendment

- Addresses basic personal freedoms of students and school personnel involving speech, press, assembly,
and religion.
- Two essential clauses regarding religion
1st Amendment
Establishment Clause
Prohibits the state from passing laws that aid a religion or show
preference for one religion over another.
Free Exercise Clause
Prohibits the state from interfering with individual religious freedoms.
Principle of Neutrality!
Open forum
Exists when the district allows community groups to use its facilities during non instructional hours.
District may not discriminate against any community group based on philosophical or ideological differences.
District must remain “viewpoint neutral.”
May prescribe certain policies: maintenance, safety, & overall operations.
Viewpoint neutral

Does not speak in favor of just one point
of view as it remains impartial in such matters as religion, politics, and belief.

Viewpoint Discrimination
Occurs when the government uses its power to
advance one person’s opinion over another’s in
such matters as religion, politics, and belief.
Board of Education of Westside Community Schools v. Mergens (1990) (8-1)

- Students have a right to organize their own groups in public schools, whether these groups be religious, political, or philosophical
Gregoire v. Centennial (1987)
- United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circut held that allowing a religious organization to rent a public high school facility does not violate the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause

Bronx Household of Faith v. Community School District No. 10 (1997)
-Church wanted to rent space in public school for Sunday meetings & NYC Board of Ed wants to keep schools out. 10 year squabble where US Supreme Court sided with Dept of Ed to not rent schools for religious services. February 12, 2012 is the last day that churches and other groups can use the schools for worship.
Lemon Test
-It must have a secular purpose.
-It must neither advance nor inhibit religion.
-It must not create excessive entanglement
An objective observer may conclude that a religious group held on school grounds would support the clubs’ discrimination of Christians being officers.
Therefore, it violates the Establishment Clause
Truth v. Kent School District
- 9th circuit ruled school district did not violate the constitution when it denied recognition to student club due to its name & its restriction of only Christian members can vote. Excluded non-Christians, in violation of school district nondiscrimination policies.
Yes, I would handle this situation differently. You would reach out to the group about their membership, and not what religion their officers would be. I would make sure that all members would be welcome to attend a each session. I would reach out to the public to advertise the times and dates of the meetings, and make sure to contact non-christian based groups. I would also administer steps to fully dissociate the school from the clubs religious speech to avoid appearing to sponsor, and endorse the clubs goals.
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