Ohio public schools have reportedly banned church leaders from leading bible study groups on campus. The decision comes after Faith Memorial Church in Lancaster, Ohio, was leading bible study groups at local public schools.
The bible study groups were allegedly run by adults sent by the church, in violation of court precedent and the Equal Access Act, according to the Freedom From Religion Foundation's press release. The FFRF requested that the public schools stop permitting the church to hold religious meetings on campuses.
“We request that you investigate these concerns and, if confirmed, halt the FMC’s involvement with student religious clubs," A FFRF representative wrote in a Feb. 5 email to officials at the four school districts. "Any clubs that were led by FMC representatives should be dissolved because they are not bona fide student-initiated clubs. Students would be free to re-establish these clubs, on their own initiative, in the future."
Legal counsel for the school districts responded to the request, assuring that future bible studies would better comply with federal law.
“Principals are making sure that students leading bible study clubs are conducting those groups within the parameters of the Equal Access Act,” a March 2 letter from the school districts reads.
Before this letter, the Ohio public schools temporarily shut down the bible study groups following the FFRF's complaint, the Christian Post reported.
“Such groups violate protections of church and state if they are led or are regularly attended by local pastors,” Ryan Jayne, a legal representative of FFRF, said.
Aaron Green, a youth pastor at the Faith Memorial Church, defended the role of the bible study groups at public schools, saying they “have always had an extraordinarily great working relationship, one that has helped these groups to thrive and to be encouraged in a special way during the school day.”
“Both youth leaders and schools are aware of the sensitive nature under which these things operate and need to be extra vigilant about rules governing separation of church and state,” Green added.