Seventh-Day Adventist Siblings Win Religious Exemption from High School Tennis Tournament

Joelle and Joseph Chung | Becket

A pair of teenage siblings who belong to the Seventh-day Adventist Church won a lawsuit securing a religious exemption from a tennis tournament in Washington state due to the games taking place on Saturdays, during their Sabbath.  

The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association agreed to add religious observance as a reason for missing a game without being penalized in response to a legal complaint by brother and sister tennis players Joelle and Joseph Chung.

The Chungs, who along with their parents had sued the WIAA over not including a religious exemption, filed a motion to withdraw on Tuesday in response to the change.

“Under the amended rules, it will not be a violation for J.N.C. to enter the postseason, and then withdraw, if necessary, upon reaching a point at which participation would be inconsistent with J.N.C.’s observation of the Sabbath,” read the motion.

“In light of the effect of these changed circumstances on Plaintiffs’ need for preliminary relief against WIAA by mid-October of this year, Plaintiffs hereby withdraw the pending motion for preliminary injunction …”

Becket, a law firm that handles religious liberty cases and represented the Chung family, considered the result to be a “partial victory” since the 2020 championship game will still be held on a Saturday, likely preventing the Chungs from participating.

“No student-athlete should be kept on the sidelines because he has the ‘wrong’ faith,” stated Joe Davis of Becket. “It’s a step in the right direction that Joseph is now able to play in postseason, but we will continue fighting for a solution that will ensure that Sabbath observers can compete all the way through the state championships on the same terms as all other student-athletes.”

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Michael Gryboski