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Texas School District Refunds 'Illegal Charges' to Christian Club

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By Eryn Sun, Christian Post Reporter
January 4, 2012|10:29 pm

A Texas school district refunded hundreds of dollars back to Child Evangelism Fellowship’s Good News Club after the Liberty Counsel discovered they were overcharging the organization with higher-than-normal fees.

The Midlothian Independent School District, accused of violating the First Amendment, agreed to give CEF a discounted rate for use of the school’s facilities after initially denying the group a fee waiver.

The Liberty Counsel pointed out that CEF should be entitled to lower fees because they met goals outlined in the Texas Education Code. School policy allowed any youth-oriented, character building groups like the Boy Scouts a waiver of facility fees, only charging them for use of utilities.

CEF, however, was declared not to be a candidate for the fee waiver because it “did not support the goals of the district,” according to a statement by Liberty Counsel, and was charged with higher fees because they were reclassified as a “church” and not a club.

When the Liberty Counsel affirmed that the Good News Club was also a youth-oriented, character-building group that supported the Texas Education Code’s statutory character training curriculum goals, the school ultimately agreed with their opinion and refunded the overcharged fees.

“We pointed out that this was a clear denial of the First Amendment,” Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, told OneNewsNow, “because First Amendment rules in the Constitution require that there be equal access and equal treatment, and that you cannot discriminate on the basis of the religious viewpoint of the club.”

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“Parents can choose the after-school opportunities – they can have their children go to secular programs such as the Scouts or maybe soccer,” Staver added, “but they also have the opportunity now to allow them to go to the Good News Clubs, which really are life-changing and character-building opportunities.”

The savings and the reimbursement eventually gave the organization the opportunity to start a second CEF chapter at a different school in the district, doubling the outreach through their after-school enrichment program open to elementary students.

“We are very happy that God answered a prayer,” Brenda Glawson, the ministry office manager of Greater Fort Worth CEF, told The Christian Post in an email. “We believe it was through His guidance that we discovered we were being over charged.”

Glawson explained that the group attempted to solve the problem by contacting the district officials directly at first, but could not get any satisfaction. As a result, the CEF East Texas Director Joyce Pierce contacted Liberty Counsel, which in turn spoke to the district leaders on behalf of CEF.

“We are very pleased that Liberty [Counsel] was able to assist the MISD Leadership in understanding the purpose of Child Evangelism Fellowship and understand that we want to serve the children,” the CEF manager expressed. “Once the decision was made MISD refunded the usage fees promptly to our ministry. We look forward to a good working relationship in the future.”

CEF’s Good News Club meets once a week after school, where trained volunteer teachers provide instruction and activities incorporating biblical principles, moral values, character qualities, and respect for authority.

No student can register without his or her parent’s consent, and there is no charge for attending the meeting.

Child Evangelism Fellowship is a Bible-centered, worldwide organization that is dedicated to seeing every child reached with the Gospel of Christ.

CEF has many different ministries for children, but the three primary ones include the Good News Club, the 5-Day Club and the Truth Chasers Club.

 

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