PHILADELPHIA — Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund filed a lawsuit in federal court Tuesday after school district officials in Haverford Township denied a local Christian ministry access to a flier distribution program that is open to other groups.
“Christian groups shouldn’t be discriminated against for their beliefs,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel David Cortman. “The courts have repeatedly ruled that government schools cannot treat people with non-religious viewpoints more favorably than people with religious viewpoints.”
The flier distribution program allows students to take home fliers pertaining to the activities and meetings of community groups. School district officials repeatedly denied Child Evangelism Fellowship of Pennsylvania access to the flier distribution program, citing the religious nature of the fliers and “the separation of church and state.”
After Dr. Steve Landman, a volunteer with CEF, notified the school district that legal counsel supported his understanding that the Constitution requires the district to allow the group’s fliers, the district then stated that it would only allow materials “sponsored by the school district or township.”
However, the school district actively distributes fliers for a host of groups, including the Cub Scouts, Brownies/Girl Scouts, YMCA, neighborhood associations, a local art center, the Fresh Air Fund (an out-of-state non-profit organization that provides free vacations for underprivileged kids), Delaware County Community College, and various non-profit youth sports leagues.
“The school district has not provided any written policy that supports this restriction. If it exists, it is entirely unconstitutional,” said ADF-allied attorney and local counsel Leonard Brown of Clymer & Musser, P.C., in Lancaster.
ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.