An Ohio attorney general says he supports parents who want to protest an after-school Satan Club at a local elementary school.
A flyer circulating on social media invited first through fifth-grade students to the "After-School Satan Club" hosted at Donovan Elementary School. The group held its first meeting on Jan. 27 and plans to meet once a month through the spring semester.
Earlier in January, parents expressed concern to the school about the club but were discouraged from protesting.
"The district does not and is not legally allowed to discriminate against any groups who wish to rent our facilities, including religiously-affiliated groups," Lebanon School District's Superintendent, Isaac Seevers, wrote in a statement. "The District has approved these types of groups in the past, one example being the Good News Club, which is an after-school child evangelism program. The Good News Club has met after school at Donovan Elementary School for years."
Despite the warning, several parents gathered outside the school for the first meeting.
We're here to stand for Jesus," Michelle Berry told Dayton Daily News. "I was expecting to be the only one here."
"We need to protect children from evil and make Christians in school know they can be bold for Jesus," she added.
"We're shining a light in a dark world," Melissa McMillen told the outlet. "We have to be the voice of our children and we need Jesus in school."
According to the outlet, police enforced the district's request to keep parents off of the school's property.
Attorney General Dave Yost wrote a letter to Seevers after the protest telling him to uphold the First Amendment rights of parents to gather.
"The decision to allow the Satan Club to rent Lebanon school facilities was, predictably, a decision many people don't like, he wrote. "And under our Constitution, they have a right to say so, in public, without being steered miles down the road."
"The purpose of the gathering-ban—when the Satan Club is meeting, next to the school—is clearly not intended to address discussions about mask policies, the science curriculum, or the band budget. It's to prohibit discussion opposing the Satan Club," Yost continued.
"During the next meeting of this attention-seeking afterschool club, I strongly encourage you to allow the speech that American citizens are entitled to engage in."
Editor note: In a previous publication of this story, we originally misidentified the state as Illinois rather than Ohio.
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