Two high school tennis stars scored a religious liberty victory in Washington state after being kicked off the court for their faith.

The Chung siblings, Joseph, 15, and Joelle, 17, both Seventh-day Adventists, a Protestant denomination that observes Sabbath on Saturday as recorded in the Bible, sued the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) earlier this month after Joelle was disqualified from her final state tennis postseason competition because she doesn't play on Saturdays.

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The Chung family, represented by Becket, a religious liberty law firm, filed a motion to withdraw their federal suit on Tuesday after WIAA agreed to add religious observance to its reasons for missing games without being penalized.

Joseph and Joelle Chung are siblings, avid tennis players, and active members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in their hometown, Chehalis, Washington.

Joseph and Joelle Chung are siblings, avid tennis players, and active members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in their hometown, Chehalis, Washington. (Becket)

Paul Chung, Joelle's father, told "The Ingraham Angle" earlier this month that his daughter, who was undefeated on the court, valued her commitment to God more than tennis.

"She was disappointed that she couldn't help the team but she shouldn't have to choose between religion and playing tennis," Chung said.

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Joe Davis, Becket counsel and attorney for the Chungs, told Fox News Friday "it's an important win for religious student-athletes in Washington and sets a favorable precedent nationwide."

"It’s common sense that Sabbath observers shouldn’t be excluded from any postseason sports competition at all just because of the hypothetical possibility of a schedule conflict somewhere down the line—and after the rule change, they won’t be."

Joelle, 17, and Joseph, 15, are both baptized Seventh-day Adventists and observe Saturday as Sabbath, not practicing or playing tennis on their holy day.

Joelle, 17, and Joseph, 15, are both baptized Seventh-day Adventists and observe Saturday as Sabbath, not practicing or playing tennis on their holy day. (Becket)

WIAA denied her family's request for a religious accommodation last season because WIAA's previous rules stated that if an athlete could not commit to playing in every level of the tournament, barring injury or illness, they were not allowed to participate at all and would be subject to penalty. WIAA had no exception for sincerely-held religious beliefs.

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"For the Chung family, keeping the Sabbath holy is a serious commitment," Becket, a religious liberty law firm, wrote in a complaint filed Aug. 6.

The Chungs, both playing for William F. West High School, had conflicts with the WIAA's state championship schedule, which included a Saturday. While Joelle had to sit out her final postseason play, Joseph, a rising sophomore, was set to have the same fate this year before the rule change.

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"We’re hopeful that the WIAA will take the next step and eliminate the schedule conflicts altogether, as the law requires," Davis added.

Source Link:
https://www.foxnews.com/faith-values/high-school-tennis-religious-liberty

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