Everyone welcome except churches
HOLLY, Mich. — Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund filed suit in federal court Wednesday after Holly Area School District officials refused to allow a Christian student to distribute personal invitations to a Vacation Bible School even though other students and community groups have been allowed to distribute literature. A teacher told the student that nothing from a church could be distributed at school, and both the principal and the superintendent upheld the decision.
“Christians shouldn’t be discriminated against for their beliefs,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel David Cortman. “The school district’s policies prohibiting religious speech while allowing the speech of other groups are clearly unconstitutional. The courts have clearly ruled that religious literature of this sort cannot be singled out for censorship.”
A school district policy states that while “materials that have a religious content may be distributed during ‘non-instructional’ time,” the “board reserves the right to refuse distribution of any material by outside individuals or groups to the students of the district.”
In June, a Christian student at Patterson Elementary School attempted to distribute fliers inviting his classmates and friends to the Youth Summer Camp at Cornerstone Church. Fliers were placed in individually sealed envelopes, which also contained a letter describing the Youth Summer Camp.
After the student began placing the flier envelopes in cubbyholes where other fliers are placed, a teacher ordered him to stop distributing the fliers, saying that anything that comes from a church cannot be distributed at school.
The teacher removed the fliers and told the student to place them in his backpack. The principal informed the student’s mother that because of the so-called “separation of church and state,” religious materials could not be distributed at schools. Further attempts to negotiate with officials were unsuccessful.
ADF-allied attorney Joel J. Kirkpatrick of Farmington Hills is local counsel in the case, J.S. v. Holly Area Schools, filed with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.
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.