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Christian club blocked by school district officials who allegedly tell student leader she can't 'limit it to the Christian Faith'

The Christian club allegedly couldn't be recognized unless it modified its views to something more 'generic'

Photo by: Godong/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Daniela Barca approached a teacher over the summer about her idea to start a Christian club at Roy C. Ketcham High School in Wappingers Falls, New York.

"I am a Christian," the 14-year-old said at the time, according to First Liberty Institute. "But sometimes it seems like I'm the only one. I want to start this club for other students like me so we can support each other in our beliefs. The school district celebrates diversity and the right to express who you are. All I want is to be allowed to express who I am. Everyone deserves as much."

After school began this fall, Daniela worked on and submitted the required application for forming a student group — but weeks allegedly went by without a response.

Then school officials apparently lost her application — and then after it was located, several more weeks of waiting went by until the principal allegedly denied Daniela's request since the school couldn't support a religious club like it did secular student clubs.

Maybe a higher authority will help?

So Daniela and her dad appealed to the assistant superintendent — but he replied that a club designed to "gather and talk about spreading the hope of Jesus" can't be recognized officially unless it modifies its viewpoint to something more "generic" and that it "couldn't limit it to the Christian Faith," First Liberty Institute said.

Equal Access Act?

You'd think that after Daniela and her father invoked the Equal Access Act that school officials would reconsider their position — but alas, nothing doing. Apparently there would be no Christian club at Ketcham unless the club did away with an exclusively Christian focus and point of view.

Fighting back

With that, First Liberty Institute got involved and sent a letter Wednesday to the Wappingers Central School District explaining that the Equal Access Act prohibits schools from denying school facility access to religious clubs when that same access is granted to secular clubs.

"As the U.S. Supreme Court explained, religious clubs must be afforded the same recognition, access, and rights as other noncurricular clubs," the letter states, according to First Liberty Institute.

"Wappingers Central school officials engaged in purposeful, intentional religious discrimination against Daniela for months," First Liberty attorney Keisha Russell said. "We hope this school district ends its clearly unlawful behavior and protects the religious liberty of every student in all its schools."

How did the school district respond?

Superintendent Jose Carrion told Fox News Wednesday night that "the district recognizes the rights of student-initiated, non-curricular groups to organize and meet in accordance with the Equal Access Act. We fully anticipate this matter will be resolved as per the Equal Access Act."

One last thing…
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