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Florida Elementary School Disbands Christian Club Following Pressure From Freedom From Religion Foundation

FFRF Florida FCA
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A Florida elementary school has disbanded a Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) club following pressure from the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), an organization that exists “to promote the constitutional principle of separation of state and church.”

In a press release, FFRF celebrated that “the Fellowship of Christian Athletes will not be able to organize and run a religious club for students” at Hamilton Elementary School, the lone primary school in the Hamilton County School District. 

The dispute between FFRF and the Hamilton County School District began after the FCA announced on Facebook that a “new huddle” would be formed at Hamilton Elementary School. 

Samantha F. Lawrence, legal fellow for FFRF, sent a letter to the Hamilton County superintendent on March 29, formally requesting that the group be disbanded. 

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“Students have the First Amendment right to be free from religious indoctrination in their public schools. While the Equal Access Act protects students’ right to form religious clubs in secondary schools, it does not apply to elementary schools,” Lawrence wrote.

Lawrence further argued that elementary school students are too young to form a student-led club without the intervention of school staff—a requirement for religious groups to meet on public school campuses. 

“Any claims that the Hamilton Elementary FCA club is ‘student led’ are at best naive and at worst dishonest,” Lawrence wrote. “Young children cannot practically initiate, organize, and run an FCA club on their own, meaning adults are the ones truly behind the club.”

Lawrence said that “the school’s actions needlessly alienate and exclude students and families who are not Christian, including those who are nonreligious” and asked the superintendent to “immediately investigate this matter and ensure that the FCA club at Hamilton Elementary is disbanded.”

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On April 22, Meagan L. Logan, a lawyer representing Hamilton County School District, sent a response letter to FFRF saying that the district had “investigated the allegations of your letter and concluded that there was a small group of fifth grade students participating in such a club at the school.”