No longer banned in Boston: Church allowed to put Bible back into Vacation Bible school

ADF letter prompts city community center to change unconstitutional meeting room policy banning religious content
Tuesday, June 15, 2010, 12:00 AM (MST) |
ADF Media Relations | 480-444-0020


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BOSTON — The Boston Centers for Youth and Families has notified Alliance Defense Fund attorneys that it will put an end to its problematic policy banning the use of religious content in its publicly available meeting rooms.

The city agency made its decision after receiving a letter from ADF on behalf of Calvary Chapel of the City, which has reserved space for its weekly after-school “Calvary Kidz” program, as well as an upcoming vacation Bible school. After providing biblical instruction to children for more than two years at the city’s Thomas L. Johnson Community Center, the program was told that the center’s policy no longer allowed religious teaching in its rooms that are open to the rest of the general public.

“Christian groups shouldn’t be discriminated against for their religious beliefs at facilities open to the public,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Joel Oster. “The city has done the right thing in agreeing to no longer enforce its unconstitutional policy so that Christian groups can enjoy the same access that has been freely offered to everyone else.”

Since January 2008, Calvary Chapel in the City has used a meeting room every Friday afternoon at the community center to teach character development and virtues from a biblical perspective through lessons, games, and other activities to children between the ages of 5 and 12.

Even though the Johnson Center–like other facilities under the oversight of the Boston Centers for Youth and Families–is available to various outside organizations and out-of-school programming, an official of the center notified the director of Calvary Kidz that the church’s program at the center can no longer include religious content. The director was told that Boston Centers imposes this “city policy” for all events at the center, as it stated that groups “cannot teach religion inside of a community center.” Calvary Kidz complied and withheld religious content from its meetings for weeks until the situation could be resolved.

“The training and materials provided by ADF proved very helpful in this case,” said Philip Moran, one of more than 1,600 attorneys in the ADF alliance, who is serving as local counsel in the matter. “Being in a position to simply cite the relevant case law helped us assist the attorneys for the city of Boston to realize that the city’s position was untenable and saved everyone the time and expense of a lawsuit.”

On June 7, ADF attorneys sent letters to 151 government entities to end religious discrimination policies at more than 750 government-run facilities across the nation.

http://www.alliancedefensefund.org/news/pressrelease.aspx?cid=5315

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