F.C.A. faces challenges


   How far is too far? That is the question that many teachers asked themselves when the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, F.C.A. , posted a quote from First Corinthians on class doors. It caused a controversy among the staff and garnered complaints. “We did that on a Monday morning. We did that around 7:00 am, and at 7:45, I had already been talked to by admin,” said Bastiaan Wolf, ACE teacher and sponsor of F.C.A. The complaints remained anonymous but the reasoning behind the complaints does not. 


An example of the sticky notes F.C.A. posted around the school. Photo by Isabella Bogo

 F.C.A. posted multiple sticky notes containing versions of the verse from First Corinthians:“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (13:4-8) 

   This was the Bible verse that caused a complaint from the school’s staff, claiming that it was offensive and endorsed the Christian religion. “I had heard from some teachers that they didn’t think it was appropriate,” said Deborah Lynch, social studies teacher. “I think that it was a group of students who meant it as an uplifting positive message, so I don’t think it was wrong, but I do understand some teachers were saying ‘Is that okay? Is that appropriate?’”

   Wolf said, “The problem was because it had said First Corinthians which is a New Testament book of the Bible. If we had written something that was Old Testament or we had said Buddha says, ‘Love is patient, love is kind’; they wouldn’t have had a problem with it.”  

  According to Cornell Law School, the Establishment Clause prevents the government from establishing an official religion. It also prevents the government from favoring one religion over another or promoting non-religion over religion or vice-versa. This law extends to public schools and does not allow the school to establish an official religion and cannot stop the practice of religion. Lynch said, “There have been different Supreme Court cases about specifically the issue of religion of school and the separation of church and state, and the thing about it is that if it’s student-initiated, it’s legal. The problem would be that if a teacher or administration was enforcing it.” 

   As a response to the complaints, F.C.A. ceased their placement of passages and quotes. According to Wolf, he had sent an email to the social studies department apologizing as well as questioning what was offensive about the placement. He received no direct response from the staff members who had complained, only an email from the head of the department containing the perspective of the staff.

   This is not the only issue that F.C.A. has found themselves in the middle of. Around four years ago, F.C.A. was involved in a mission trip, along with Fox Creek Elementary School. The preparation for this trip involved raising money through donations. This process of advocating for donations at and during school sparked a lawsuit against the fellowship.  “There was this group, it’s an atheist-based group, that basically goes around and finds any instances of religion crossing over in school and goes after the district for allowing it,” said Wolf.

   This lawsuit impacted the organization immensely. The changes went into effect during the 2018-2019 school year and altered the times that the club is allowed to meet. F.C.A. is no longer allowed to meet during school hours but is allowed to meet on school grounds. They began meeting at 6:30 every Monday morning instead of the former meeting during access and school hours. Consequently, this change caused a loss of attendees.    

   The loss of members did not deter dedicated member Delaney Atchison, junior, from attending and being involved with F.C.A. Atchison said, “It really breaks my heart to see such a loss of attendance because of something as simple as a change in time. I come to F.C.A. because I love the people who attend, no matter how few, and I’m always up for starting my week with God.”

Isabella Bogo, Staff Reporter