Students from a Pennsylvania high school Christian club are claiming their constitutional rights are being violated after they were forbidden from handing out Bibles during the school day.
“In November, members of the Christians in Action Student Club at Mechanicsburg Area High School had attempted to hand out Bibles during the lunch period, but were ordered by administrators to stop,” Penn Live reported.
The Independence Law Center, a religious liberty group, agreed to represent the students.
“We’re hoping not to sue,” Jeremy Samek, senior counsel for the Center, told Fox News.
“The school has told these students that they cannot distribute Bibles to their classmates at any time during the school day, but students don’t lose their constitutional rights to speech when they enter the schoolhouse gate,” Samek added.
“Schools certainly have the right to limit it to non-instructional times and reasonable places but not to institute absolute bans during the school day, which is what they’ve done here,” he said.
District officials denied that there is a ban on sharing Bibles at the school, but that the student group failed to obtain permission to distribute them, according to Penn Live.
“There is not a ban on the Bible, Torah or the Koran or any other religious material at Mechanicsburg Area Senior High School,” the officials said in a written statement. “Students are always permitted to bring, read, share and discuss the Bible at school. We welcome and encourage students with all backgrounds and religious views to express themselves.”
The district noted that there are rules in place to be followed by students or student groups desiring to distribute materials.
“These rules are established to respect the rights of all students, create a sense of belonging in the school, and ensure there are not disruptions to the school day,” the school district stated.
The district also chastised Independence Law Center saying, “Instead of submitting a request and working with the high school administration in a collaborative manner, the ILC’s approach has evoked negative emotions that divide our school and community.”
“We would gladly engage in a conversation that instead takes the time to consider what is best and inclusive for all students and respects the wishes of many parents in our school community,” the district administrators said.
The ILC fired back claiming that Mechanicsburg Area High School principal, David Harris, specifically denied the students permission to pass out the Bibles.
“Not only did Principal Harris tell these students that they were ‘not permitted to handout Bibles during the school day’ but he also ordered that they not even hand out Bibles outside of the school day unless they were granted permission first from the school,” a statement from the ILC to Penn Live read.
The Sentinel reported that ILC attorneys planned to attend the Mechanicsburg Area School District school board meeting on Tuesday night to address the Bible ban controversy in person.
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