In these cases, Eberhard usually calls administrators and reminds them that the Equal Access Act gives the the students the right to form a club.
That law says if a federally funded secondary school permits even one extracurricular club, it must permit them all, providing “equal access” to school property. It was passed in 1984 with the support of religious groups who wanted to establish after-school Bible clubs.
“The irony is that same act allows secular students a place in the classroom for their club,” Eberhard said.
Others are more measured in their support. Dave Rahn, chief ministry officer for Youth For Christ/USA, said a pluralistic society means his group, which oversees 1,100 middle and high school clubs, “will often co-exist on campus with groups promoting worldviews with which we simply disagree.”
“When we faithfully communicate the truth of the gospel we expect it will be fruitful among young people, no matter what other ideas compete for their allegiance,” he said.
Steve Gerali, dean of the theology department at Grand Canyon University and an expert on ministry to youth, said he is concerned that some administrators favor nonreligious clubs over religious ones.
“My perception is that an atheistic club is a little bit more welcomed than a Christian club,” he said. “I think administrators need to understand that to speak about no God is
similar to speaking about a God. So it is, in fact, a religion even though it is anti-religion.”
Not so, said Robert-Cole Evans, 16, who started an atheist club at his Spring Branch, Texas, high school. His group includes Christians, who, like many members of his club, are interested in discussing matters of belief.
At a recent fundraiser, Evans said, a woman approached him and asked if he was a Christian. When he said no, he was an atheist, she said that was “OK” because “it was good to see kids with energy and passion for what they care about.”
“You can’t say anyone is amoral or evil until you have talked with them,” Evans said.
Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Religion News Service LLC.