PHILADELPHIA — Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund dismissed a lawsuit Tuesday after securing a settlement with the School District of Haverford Township, which agreed to allow a local Christian ministry to participate in its flier distribution program. ADF attorneys filed the suit last October on behalf of Child Evangelism Fellowship of Pennsylvania, arguing the district unconstitutionally denied the Christian group access to the program while admitting other groups.
“Christian groups shouldn’t be discriminated against and excluded for their beliefs while others are welcomed public school programs,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel David Cortman. “We are pleased that the district has taken note of the numerous court rulings establishing that public schools cannot treat people with non-religious viewpoints more favorably than those with religious viewpoints.”
School officials repeatedly denied CEF access to the flier distribution program, contending that the religious nature of the group’s fliers violated the so-called “separation of church and state.”
The program, which will now distribute fliers electronically only, communicates various activities and meetings held by community groups. Even though a wide variety of groups were included in the program—such as the Cub Scouts, Brownies/Girl Scouts, YMCA, neighborhood associations, a local art center, Delaware County Community College, and non-profit youth sports leagues—officials banned CEF.
“The school district has done the right thing in respecting the First Amendment. The district was not able to present an actual written policy calling for the exclusion of religious groups, and even if it had, it would have been blatantly unconstitutional,” said ADF-allied attorney and local counsel Leonard Brown of Clymer & Musser, P.C., based 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.