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FL Elementary School Gives in to Atheist Group's Demands, Dissolves Christian Club

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A Florida elementary school has dissolved its Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) club after the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), an atheist activist group, pressured them to do so.

Hamilton County School district had allowed the North Central Florida Fellowship of Christian Athletes to begin a new club at Hamilton Elementary, according to a statement from FFRF, an organization that says it exists "to promote the constitutional principle of separation of state and church."

The elementary school had announced on Facebook in late January that it was organizing a "new huddle" at the school. A little more than a week later, FFRF confronted the district about the group. 

"The district's assistant superintendent informed FFRF's complainant that the Fellowship of Christian Athletes is an official 'student-led' organization at Hamilton Elementary," reads the press statement. "The response made it clear that the school was allowing a religious club for children at an elementary school during the school day."

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On March 29, Samantha F. Lawrence, a legal fellow for FFRF, sent a letter to the school district requesting they disband the group. 

"Students have the First Amendment right to be free from religious indoctrination in their public schools. While the Equal Access Act protects students' right to form religious clubs in secondary schools, it does not apply to elementary schools," Lawrence argued in her letter

"Elementary students are too young to truly run a club entirely on their own initiative with no input from school staff or outside adults," she claimed. 

Lawrence demanded an investigation be made into the club adding, "Any claims that the Hamilton Elementary FCA club is 'student-led' are at best naive and at worst dishonest."

By March, a lawyer representing the school district confirmed to Lawrence that there was an investigation into the club and they found "there was a small group of fifth-grade students participating in such a club at the school."

"While these same students will be eligible to participate in FCA on the campus of Hamilton County High School in a few short months as six graders, in an effort to avoid any perception that such a gathering on the campus of Hamilton Elementary is being organized, promoted or endorsed by the district or its employees, the club has been dispersed," the lawyer wrote in a statement. 

FFRF applauded the decision and said it was thankful the district was willing to "listen to reason."

On the side of religious freedom, the nonprofit legal group First Liberty Institute disagrees with the school's decision to give in to the atheist threats.

"Banning students from having a religious club at a school while permitting other, secular clubs is a travesty that teaches children their faith is unwelcome and must be hidden," First Liberty Institute Deputy General Counsel Justin Butterfield told The Christian Post.

At the same time the Florida school was denying access to the FCA club, First Liberty managed to secure access for a different faith-based club at the Issaquah School District in Washington state. Creekside Elementary School has backed down after previously rejecting the club and will now allow two elementary school students to start an interfaith prayer club there.

First Liberty Institute Associate Counsel Kayla Toney said, "Schools should always respect the religious beliefs of their students. This is a victory for students of all faiths and a reminder that people of faith have a constitutional right to express their religious beliefs and pray, even in a public school setting."

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About The Author


Talia Wise has served as a multi-media producer for, CBN Newswatch, The Prayer Link, and CBN News social media outlets. Prior to joining CBN News she worked for Fox Sports Florida producing and reporting. Talia earned a master’s degree in journalism from Regent University and a bachelor's degree from the University of Virginia.