Good News Clubs Win Equal Access in Hawaii Schools

Jun 28, 2024

HONOLULU, HI – In a victory for equal access, Liberty Counsel received a preliminary injunction on behalf of Child Evangelism Fellowship of Hawaii (CEF) and its Good News Clubs against the Hawaii State Department of Education and six different elementary schools. Therefore, the CEF after school Bible clubs must be given equal access as other similarly situated clubs on public school campuses throughout the state. 

In January 2024, Liberty Counsel filed a lawsuit on behalf of CEF Hawaii after Hawaii’s Department of Education and six different elementary schools repeatedly denied its Good News Clubs equal access to public school facilities over a three-year period. During the lawsuit, Hawaii’s Department of Education conceded that one school denied CEF Hawaii use of its facilities based on religion, while another school’s denial was due to a “misapplication” of school policies. CEF Hawaii contended that after it appealed the “blatant religious discrimination” of these denials to the Hawaii State Department of Education, it never received any response, nor did school officials take any corrective actions.   

The injunction secures protection for the Good News Clubs from viewpoint discrimination as well as requires school officials to make timely responses regarding facility-use applications.

Prior to COVID-19, CEF Hawaii had active Good News Clubs in over a dozen schools on Oahu and other islands. Then, after restricting after-school programs due to COVID-19, schools fully restored after-school programs in 2022. However, the Hawaii State Department of Education, through four of its Superintendents and other officials, had denied every request submitted by CEF to restart its programs and either expressly or effectively denied every appeal, while allowing access for other similar groups to meet after school on campus.

CEF Hawaii is a Christian non-profit organization and a subsidiary of Child Evangelism Fellowship Inc., an international non-profit worldwide children’s ministry. CEF Good News Clubs positively impact the lives of children and their families. Good News Clubs typically meet once per week, immediately after school, and are led by trained and vetted local community volunteers. The clubs provide religious and other teaching and activities to encourage learning, spiritual growth, and service to others, as well as social, emotional, character, and leadership development. Good News Clubs do not charge a fee and welcome children with written permission from parents. There are currently 3,041 Good News Clubs in public elementary schools across the United States, including several in Hawaii schools.

Liberty Counsel represents CEF nationally and has never lost a case involving Good News Clubs.

Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “This is a great victory for Child Evangelism Fellowship, parents, and the students in Hawaii public schools. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that public schools cannot discriminate against Christian viewpoints regarding use of school facilities. Child Evangelism Fellowship gives children a safe space that offers moral and character development from a Christian viewpoint. Good News Clubs should be in every public elementary school.”

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