1/15 - Updated - Secondary Principals: Rules Pertaining to Faith-Based Student Clubs

Recently, questions have been raised regarding the rules pertaining to student clubs which are faith-based or have religious affiliations.  The purpose of this Memorandum is to outline and explain these rules, which are as follows:

  1. Students must be permitted to form a faith-based club if they wish to.
  2. The club must be formed pursuant to the same ASB rules pertaining to all school clubs.
  3. The club must be student initiated and student run.
  4. The club must have a faculty sponsor who volunteers to act as and be the faculty sponsor and is there to supervise only, and who may not participate in religious activities nor engage in any activity which constitutes promotion of religion (such as recruiting new members or providing religious instruction).  
  5. Membership in the club must be open to all students and meetings must be scheduled in such a way that all students have the opportunity to participate.  Therefore, clubs can only meet at lunch if they can meet in every lunch period.  Otherwise, they must meet after school.  Students must be permitted to attend even if they do not wish to pray.
  6. School clubs may not be organized, or operate, under the control or direct influence of any off-campus or community organization.  
  7. Students are permitted to invite speakers to attend specific club meetings, but non-school persons may not direct, conduct, control, or regularly attend activities of student groups and may not engage in recruiting club members on campus.  

The requirement for allowing faith-based student clubs comes from the federal Equal Access Act; which requires a district that allows even one student-led non-curriculum club that meets outside of class time, to allow additional such clubs to be organized, and to give them equal access to meeting spaces and school publications.

The Establishment Clause in the U.S. Constitution, which dictates the separation of church and state, does not prohibit faith-based clubs from operating on a school campus.  However, it does prohibit government agencies, officials and employees from promoting religion, which is why faith-based clubs must be student initiated and student led, must not be under the direct control of or direct influence by non-district personnel, off-campus or community organization, and may not have non-district personnel as regular attendees at club meetings.  

Here is a copy of a memo to share with others as needed.