Religious conservatives hail high court ruling on elementary school club meetings

Posted: Friday, June 15, 2001

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Religious conservatives are hailing the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that public schools in Milford, N.Y., should let a Child Evangelism Fellowship club hold voluntary meetings with elementary students after class hours.

Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for Pat Robertson's American Center for Law and Justice, said the decision ''sends a powerful message that religious organizations must receive equal treatment.''

The Rev. Richard Land, social-issues spokesman for the Southern Baptist Convention, called the decision ''a victory for everyone who believes in true religious freedom.'' Orthodox Jews joined conservative Christians in backing the club's suit.

But the Rev. Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State considered the ruling ''a terrible mistake.'' Lynn said the decision means ''aggressive fundamentalist evangelists have a new way to proselytize school kids.''

By a 6-3 vote Monday, the Supreme Court ruled that once the school district in Milford, a village in upstate New York, opened the doors to other after-school civic meetings, it could not exclude the evangelism club without violating First Amendment free-speech rights.


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