C.A. School District Must Reinstate Fellowship of Christian Athletes Chapter, Judge Rules

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A California school district must reinstate a Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter after a judge ruled that the district’s decision to forbid the group was unlawful.

The school district, the San Jose Unified School District, initially revoked the group’s recognition because it requires leaders to abstain from sex outside of marriage, The Christian Post reports.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals voted 9-2 to issue an en banc ruling last week that the district likely violated the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution by banning the FCA due to its statement on sexual purity, which was labeled in violation of the school district’s antidiscrimination policies.

Judge Consuelo Callahan, a George W. Bush appointee, authored the majority opinion, writing that while antidiscrimination policies “serve worthy causes,” they cannot be “utilized in a manner that transgresses or supersedes the government’s constitutional commitment to be steadfastly neutral to religion.

“The District, rather than treating FCA like comparable secular student groups whose membership was limited based on criteria including sex, race, ethnicity, and gender identity, penalized it based on its religious beliefs,” wrote Callahan.

Callahan said that a teacher and a committee member acted without “validity.”

“Another teacher and Climate Committee member accused FCA of ‘choos[ing] darkness’ and ‘perpetuat[ing] ignorance,’ calling them ‘charlatans.’… And perhaps most tellingly, the school’s principal stated to the entire school in a newspaper article that FCA’s views were ‘of a discriminatory nature.'”

Daniel Blomberg, vice president and senior counsel at Becket, a religious liberty law firm, said in a statement that the judge’s decision “ensures religious students are again treated fairly in San Jose and throughout California.”

“This is a huge win for these brave kids, who persevered through adversity and never took their eye off the ball: equal access with integrity,” Blomberg said.

In 2019, San Jose school officials derecognized the FCA chapter after Pioneer High School teacher Peter Glasser reported the group’s sexual purity requirement.

Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Tiero

Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and She blogs at The Migraine Runner.

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