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  • Joanne Jacobs

School can't ban Christian club, OK 'Satanic Temple'

You don't have to be Christian to join the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) at Pioneer High School in San Jose. You don't have to be an athlete. You don't have to be heterosexual.


Image from the Satanic Temple website.

But the after-school club does ask its leaders -- not members -- to affirm sex should wait for marriage and that "marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman."


The school district, which recognizes a group called "Satanic Temple," decided in 2019 that FCA discriminates against gays by requiring leaders to reject same-sex marriage. The group and two students sued in 2020.


San Jose Unified was ordered by an appellate court to reinstate FCA as a student group, writes John Woolfolk for Bay Area News Group.

“This case pitted two competing values that we cherish as a nation: the principle of non-discrimination on the one hand, and the First Amendment’s protection of free exercise of religion and free speech on the other hand,” the appellate court’s opinion said. “Under the First Amendment, our government must be scrupulously neutral when it comes to religion: It cannot treat religious groups worse than comparable secular ones,” the judges wrote. “But the School District did just that.”

A new district policy says student clubs must accept "all comers" as members and leaders, but San Jose Unified has okayed all-female clubs, a Persian Club and a South Asian Club, the opinion notes. (There's also a Communist Club. If non-believers can join and become leaders, it's vulnerable to takeover by capitalists.)


FCA also presented evidence of hostility by teachers. In an email to a student, one teacher on the Climate Committee, which banned FCA, described evangelical Christians as “charlatans” who "choose darkness over knowledge and . . . perpetuate ignorance."


Educators wanted to make the school a supportive environment from gay and transgender students, but not for students with traditional beliefs about sex and marriage.


I have two words: Satanic Temple.

Yeshiva University, which describes itself as a “deeply religious Jewish university,” filed an emergency request with the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday to stay a lower court’s order to recognize a gay students' group. In June, a New York state judge ruled that Yeshiva (the word refers to a Jewish religious school) is not a religious institution and therefore must follow the state's human rights laws.


“As our name indicates, Yeshiva University was founded to instill Torah values in its students while providing a stellar education, allowing them to live with religious conviction as noble citizens and committed Jews,” said Hanan Eisenman, a university spokesman, in a statement.

The court’s decision, he said, “violates the religious liberty upon which this country was founded” and “permits courts to interfere in the internal affairs of religious schools, hospitals and other charitable organizations.”


Christian groups have filed a friend-of-the-court brief.

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