As I’ve said before, the problem we always see with Christian clubs at public schools is that they want special treatment, not equal treatment. And Mariposa Elementary School in Brea, California will be shutting down Club Monarch, an after-school Bible group, after the Freedom From Religion Foundation caught them violating the law many times over.
Here’s a short list of what FFRF discovered through open records requests and a concerned parent:
- “The club was mentioned in the weekly newsletter,” where students were told to “Stop by the office to sign up.” No other club received that treatment.
- The club’s meetings were listed in the school calendar. Other clubs were not.
- When the Principal told parents at a back-to-school night about the various clubs at the school, she spent extra time telling everyone how amazing the Christian club was and how students should join it.
- The club began meeting a mere five minutes after the end of the school day, a perk not reserved for other groups.
- School officials gave out Club Monarch registration forms and helped coordinate collection of those forms.
- School officials planned club meetings using their school email addresses, even though they should have no such role with the group.
- The Superintendent spoke at a club meeting in February, “sharing… the heart of Jesus with the children.”
Oh. And club organizers didn’t have the proper insurance certificate for renting the school facility, either.
They finally heard back from the District as the school year began with some good news: Club Monarch no longer existed.
“The operation of a religious club at an elementary school with the collusion of school principal and staff was way beyond the pale, and we’re pleased we played a role in putting an end to it,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor.
Again, if the people running Club Monarch had only played by the same rules as every other club, no one could rightly complain about their group’s existence. But they wanted special treatment. It took atheists to put a stop to it.