A Christian evangelical group that works to improve the lives of underprivileged children says it has been prohibited from conducting Bible study classes in public housing projects in Tulsa, Okla., potentially violating a Supreme Court ruling that upheld religious groups' right to the use of public institutions.
For more than 70 years, the Missouri-based Child Evangelism Fellowship has worked with underprivileged kids, not only to convert them to Christianity, but to improve their lives through education and after-school activities. In one program, fellowship missionaries visit prisons and sign up inmates' children for Bible study programs in an effort to keep them from winding up in jail themselves.
And for more than two decades, the fellowship has hosted a religious-themed summer program in Tulsa's tough housing projects, designed to keep children from falling victim to the temptations of drugs and crime.
But recently, the fellowship was told that it was in violation of a long-standing policy prohibiting religious instruction on public housing property, said Larry Koehn, who heads the organization's chapter in the city.
This policy is just as unconstitutional as the statute in San Diego that county officials used to try and stop a pastor and his wife's home Bible study. In the case of San Diege, they quickly backed down and won't be fining the pastor and his wife for their home Bible studies.
In Tulsa, they are looking to violate the groups Constitutional rights of religious expression, assembly, and free speech. This is not the first time that they had their rights trampled on by the city:
"Last fall, one of our schools said we couldn't hold a club after school for the same reasons," Larry Koehn, a group leader, said. "I contacted the Liberty Counsel and they wrote a letter to the school board explaining equal access, and they let us in."
Now, they are preparing for a lawsuit against the housing authority to fight for their rights. A lawyer with experiece in religious cases has been retained.
Past precident is on the side of the evangelical group. The Supreme Court said in 2001 that religious groups should have equal access to public building as any other group.
This is also an assualt on the poor who are mostly minorities as they are the people who are the most likely to live in such housing. So, they are they taking rights away of the evangelical group but the poor people that livr there as well.
I will stay on top of this story.