On Wednesday, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court reinstated the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in the San Jose, California school district. The ruling was based on the club’s right to the First Amendment freedom to exercise their religion.
San Jose, California recently declared an end to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). The school district alleged the Christian-based student group discriminated against the LGBTQ students on the campus.
The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court found that the student group did not have to give up their faith and beliefs in order to have an equal standing on the campus. The court also ruled that similar groups to the FCA also did not have to give up their faith or beliefs in order to remain on campus.
The Ninth Circuit stated the school had a “double standard” and rather than treat FCA like secular groups on campus, the school district attacked the FCA based on religious beliefs. The Ninth Circuit went on to use honor society groups, such as the National Honor Society, as an example for their argument.
The example used referred to the National Honor Society having membership criteria that required a certain GPA and how this is similar to the criteria of the FCA.
Rigo Lopez, the Bay Area FCA leader, was pleased with the outcome of the decision. Lopez stated the group was excited to serve the campuses in the district again.
Becket Vice President and Senior Council, Daniel Blomberg shared Lopez’s viewpoints regarding the win for the FCA.
“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, Today’s ruling ensures religious students are again treated fairly in San Jose and throughout California.”
The ruling by the Ninth Circuit is laying the foundation for FCA and other groups to have their freedom of speech and right to religious freedom respected on campuses throughout the state. By allowing the FCA and similar groups to interact on campus, the Ninth Circuit is showing that equality can happen but must be truly equal and unbiased.