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Journal of No. 118


September 3rd, 2016

Brea on the frontlines of Church & State @ 08:18 am

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"Club Monarch, an afterschool bible club, was run in part by teachers and routinely given preferential treatment at Mariposa Elementary School in Brea, Calif. The club was mentioned in the weekly newsletter and listed in the school calendar. The newsletter announcements asked students to "Stop by the office to sign up." There were posters around the school exclusively advertising the club. At a back-to-school night, the principal effusively praised and recommended the club. And the club was allowed to begin its meetings a mere five minutes after the school day ended.
...
The school was distributing Club Monarch registration forms to its students and coordinating registration, instructing parents to return the forms to the school office or to their child's teacher. Records showed that school staff members were routinely planning and coordinating Club Monarch meetings via their school email accounts, often during the school day. Superintendent Mason actually spoke at a Club Monarch meeting in February, "sharing ... the heart of Jesus with the children," according to the club's Facebook page."

Now, after school religious clubs (indeed 'worship clubs') are allowed (so sayeth the Supreme Court) if schools open their doors to any and all comers, but the context has been for outside groups coming in, and without any support from the school: "the children required their parents' permission to attend the Club's activities; they were not permitted to "loiter outside classrooms after the schoolday has ended". The Club was using space on the school grounds into which elementary school children did not typically venture during school hours, and ... The instructors are not schoolteachers."

In this case, it was very much an inside job, and with plenty of support from the school and its employees. I bet the meeting between the district lawyers and the super was interesting. Perhaps in an overdose of CYA -- though indeed this is what the FFRF called for -- the final decision was to disband the club entirely.

(* I went to high school in Brea)
 
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Journal of No. 118