High School Refuses to Recognize Bible Study Club; PJI Files Suit

Anaheim, CA – Pacific Justice Institute filed suit today in federal court in Southern California on behalf of students who have been thwarted in their attempts to start an after-school Bible Study Club at Esperanza High School in Anaheim. The high school’s Associated Student Body Director ostensibly denied permission for the club on the grounds that it is “non-curricular” in nature, but the yearbook lists numerous clubs that are not directly related to the curriculum. Privately, the ASB Director advised the students that the club would only be allowed on campus if it studied all major religions – not just the Bible.

The Bible Study Club desires to discuss issues facing students, including those related to faith, human rights, and the value of human life. The club also proposes to fulfill Christ’s commands to feed the poor and to help protect the weak and the vulnerable in society. The proposed Bible Club has been denied equal access to all club rights, benefits and privileges, based on its religious views, even though the high school already recognizes non-curriculum clubs such as the Red Cross Club, the Interact Club, the Best Buddies Club, the Investors Club and the International Club.

Attorney Karen Milam, who heads the Southern California office of Pacific Justice Institute,commented, “Contrary to what officials at Esperanza High seem to think, the Constitution and the federal Equal Access Act have not been changed; hostility toward religious beliefs is still illegal. It is a shame that these students, who want to improve both themselves and their community, have met with such resistance.”

Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute, commented, “Requiring the Bible Club to study either all religions or none is like forcing the Chess Club to also play checkers. This is nonsense, and we are looking forward to vindicating these students’ rights in court.”