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Bible Club Gets Green Light After Seven Months of 'Anti-Christian Hostility'

Highschool Student

A student-led Bible Club has been approved at a California high school after allegedly enduring "anti-Christian hostility" from school officials for seven months, according to the National Center for Law & Policy (NCLP).

The NCLP, a non-profit legal defense organization that focuses on the protection and promotion of religious freedom, sent an 18-page letter to the Oceanside Unified School District (OUSD) in Oceanside, CA demanding they approve the A-Team Bible Club at Oceanside High School (OHS).

"This flagrant mistreatment and abuse of these courageous religious student leaders and other OHS students who desire to participate in the A-Team Bible Club is one of the most egregious examples of government anti-Christian religious discrimination and hostility that I have seen in my nearly thirty years of practicing law," said NCLP President Dean Broyles. 

According to the organization, a group of students attempted to form the club at the start of the 2023-2024 school year.  

However, NCLP claims OHS ASB cashier and clerk Ms. Robbin Pollard "actively undermined them at every turn by throwing up a series of unethical roadblocks and unlawful delaying actions."

"Pollard lost their paperwork on one occasion and kept asking for different things to be corrected, many of which were not mandatory requirements," reads a press release from the group. "Rather than help them, Pollard told these student leaders on at least two occasions that there were already 'too many' Christian Clubs at OHS (there were two, FCA and Young Life) and that, therefore, the club would have to change its Christian name to something other than 'A-Team Bible Club' and restate its purpose."

The group of students complied with changing their name, but Pollard told them it would be at least a year before it would get approved and they would have to wait until the next school year. 

"Pollard's actions and communications towards these Christian students were arbitrary, capricious, and discriminatory. Such state anti-religious bigotry is unacceptable and is unlawful. But this is precisely what happens when the state delegates too much unchecked discretionary government power to a single 'gatekeeper,' who either does not know the law or does not care to abide by it. The OHS ASB, particularly Pollard, owes these student leaders an apology," Broyles said. 

NCLP's demand letter to Oceanside Unified School District (OUSD) criticized Oceanside High School (OHS) for "overt religious discrimination."

"Student-initiated and student-led religious clubs on public secondary school campuses are very well protected by the Religious Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment, the Equal Access Act (EAA), and OUSD's own policies and regulations," NCLP reiterated. 

As a result, the board of trustees unanimously approved the A-Team Bible Club at Oceanside High School (OHS) on May 14th.  

The club was able to hold its first meeting shortly afterward and president John Weekes opened and closed the meeting with prayer, and the Gospel was shared from the book of Acts, and Bibles were distributed to students. 

Club members say they will hold two more meetings before the summer and want to build momentum next year. 

"I am thankful for the good work of the National Center for Law & Policy that got our club approved so quickly after months of delays," Weekes said.  

NCLP is also celebrating the school district's decision. 

"The government must be neutral, not hostile, towards religion; and part of neutrality is accommodating religious students on campus by giving them equal access. We are very pleased that the OUSD board did the right thing and expeditiously approved the A-Team Bible Club once this horrendous debacle was brought to their attention. This is good news for students at OHS and is a big win for religious freedom," Broyles said. 

Donald Bendz, an Oceanside Unified School District (OUSD) spokesperson told CBN News the following:

"Oceanside High School (OHS) and OUSD NEVER refused to approve the club in question at OHS. The paperwork was not filed properly by the students, so it didn't go through the process for approval," he explained. 

Bendz shared a list of faith-based groups currently operating within other schools at the district including Fellowship Of Christian Athletes (FCA) at OHS. 

He added, "The process for club approval requires a teacher sponsor, ASB student government approval, principal approval, and Board of Education approval. This takes time for all groups to accomplish. The principal at OHS was unaware of the incorrect paperwork until the letter was received from the attorneys office. As soon as we were made aware of this, the principal worked and expedited the process."

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