11 August 2019 | Adventist high school-aged siblings Joelle and Joseph Chung have filed a federal lawsuit against the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association arguing that their rights have been violated due to consistent scheduling of tennis championship tournament play on the Saturday Sabbath. The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court in the Western District of Washington.
“Although WIAA schedules no state championship tournament play on Sundays, and although it schedules many other state championships to take place entirely during the week, WIAA typically schedules the 2A boys’ and girls’ state tennis championship tournaments to conclude on a Saturday,” states the complaint.
“As a result, Saturday Sabbath observers like J.G.C. and J.N.C. are prohibited from completing the state championship tournament, solely on account of their religious beliefs.”
According to an August 8 article in The Christian Post, the lawsuit also claims that “Specifically, WIAA has interpreted its rules to prohibit players, on pain of penalty, from participating in any postseason competition if they are, or know they might be, unable to proceed through the ‘completion of the championship event.'”
It argues that if the final day of a championship is on Saturday, this also prevents Adventists from being able to participate in the championship on any other day under the current system.
The Becket Fund, a Washington, D.C.-based legal group that seeks to defend First Amendment rights, is representing the Adventist siblings.