Teachers fight for their right to teach the gospel at school

Jun 11, 2003 11:34 AM EDT

It's been two years since the U.S. Supreme Court authorized that religious clubs can access to public school facilities as non-religious clubs do. However still Christian teachers are fighting for right to teach religion after school, FoxNews reported on 9.

Barbara Wigg, a 19 year-old elementary school teacher, has filed a federal lawsuit against a South Dakota school district because she was denied to have religious activities after school in school buildings.

Certified by the Missouri-based Child Evangelism Fellowship(CEF), she's been wanting to lead Good News Clubs after school.

Good News Clubs are for teaching chilren around age of 5 to 12 about Christian gospel at homes, schools and community centers. Even though the clubs are not sponsored by school, they use classrooms for their meetings.

Last year, CEF had 1,346 of the 4,759 clubs were held in public schools. This year, about 120,000 people have joined the clubs nationwide.

In Wigg's case, however, the school district is asserting that such kind of religious clubs would violate the U.S. Constitution.

The school district also insists that Wigg can teach the gospel in anywhere except on school property. The reason it brings forth is that religious activities can make an excessive confusion between the school and religion and the school may seem to endorse Christian beliefs.

Wigg has already lost the first legal suit.

Wigg's attorney, Mathew Staver insisted that she lost the suit because she's a teacher.

"If the judge treated her as a common citizen, the result would've been different. Even if she were a government employee, she could be allowed to have after school clubs," he said.

Attorneys of both sides said the result of Wigg's case would influence school laws and teachers' behavior in permitting religion at schools.

But Staver added "if we were to lose, teachers in U.S would loose their constitutional rights to freedom of speech even during their private time."

By Young Sun Lee
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