Good News Club Wins Equal Access in RI School District

Jul 18, 2023

PROVIDENCE, RI – In a victory for equal access, Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) Rhode Island and its Good News Clubs prevailed in Liberty Counsel’s lawsuit against the Providence Public School District and its superintendent, Dr. Javier Montanez. The Good News Clubs are now free to hold after school Bible clubs. Today, a federal district court approved a Consent Decree that prevents the school district from discriminating against CEF, declaring the Christian clubs are entitled to equal access “on the same terms” as other after school clubs. 

In March 2023, Liberty Counsel filed a lawsuit on behalf of CEF Rhode Island after the school district discriminated against them by repeatedly ignoring their applications and not allowing its Good News Clubs on campuses while allowing other clubs to meet. As a result of the victory, the Providence Public School District is permanently mandated to treat the Good News Clubs “on an equal basis with similarly situated organizations, such as Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and Girls on the Run.”

The school district previously allowed CEF Rhode Island to run a Good News Club at D’Abate Elementary School for the 2019–2020 school year before COVID caused the cancelation of all clubs in Spring 2020. When CEF Rhode Island requested to resume the Good News Club, as well as start a new club at Leviton Elementary for the 2021–2022 school year, district officials failed to respond to repeated facilities use applications by CEF Rhode Island. For nearly two years, the district continued to block CEF Rhode Island from hosting its elementary school Good News Clubs on district school facilities. Yet other organizations such as Boys and Girls Clubs, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and Girls on the Run were given free use of school facilities for after school programs.

Liberty Counsel has represented approximately 200 CEF cases nationally and has never lost a case involving Good News Clubs. 

CEF Rhode Island 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 3,285 Good News Clubs with approximately 2000 of them meeting after school in public elementary and middle schools across the United States.

In June 2001, the U.S. Supreme Court in Good News Club v. Milford Central School ruled that public schools violate the First Amendment by not providing equal access and equal treatment to Christian clubs when the school has opened the forum to secular clubs, as in this case. 

Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “This is a great victory for Child Evangelism Fellowship and the students and parents of the Providence School District. Public schools cannot discriminate against Christian viewpoints regarding use of school facilities. Child Evangelism Fellowship gives children a biblically based education that includes moral and character development. Good News Clubs should be in every public elementary school.” 

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