Atheist Group Complains about Bible Clubs at Ohio Schools

Atheist Group Complains about Bible Clubs at Ohio Schools

The atheist group Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) has filed a complaint against four Ohio school districts which has led two schools to suspend their Bible clubs.

The Christian Post reports that the FFRF claims that the Bible clubs, which are held during lunch breaks at the eight high schools, junior high schools, and middle schools, “violate protections of separation of church and state if they are led or regularly attended by local pastors,” according to Ryan Jayne, a legal fellow at the FFRF.

The FFRF said that the Bible clubs have to be completely student-led and could include no involvement from pastors of local churches.

Youth Pastor Aaron Green of Faith Memorial Church said that church leaders and school administrations "have always had an extraordinarily great working relationship, one that has helped these groups to thrive and to be encouraged in a special way during the school day."

Green asserted that he was not aware that any of the school’s administrators had a problem with the pastors’ involvement in the Bible clubs, although he said the schools had asked pastors to limit their involvement so that the clubs could be run primarily by students.

"Both youth leaders and schools are aware of the sensitive nature under which these things operate and need to be extra vigilant about rules governing separation of church and state,” said Green.

However, the letter of complaint sent by the FFRF maintains that if "FMC representatives have indeed been leading student Bible studies, those clubs are not bona fide student-initiated religious clubs and should be dissolved. ... Students would be free to re-establish the clubs, on their own initiative, in the future."

Publication date: February 25, 2016