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Maricopa School District reverses course, will allow religious flier distribution

ADF lawsuit challenging unconstitutional policies will continue

PHOENIX — Maricopa Unified School District officials have reversed course and will allow the distribution of fliers by a local church on campus.  Alliance Defense Fund attorneys filed suit July 24 after a church and its pastor were told that they would not be permitted to distribute their fliers to students.  District policy allows nonprofit organizations to distribute literature, but only if the fliers do not contain religious material. 

“Christians shouldn’t be discriminated against for expressing their beliefs,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel David Cortman.  “We are very pleased at the school district’s decision.  We hope district officials will officially modify their policy so that we do not need to continue this lawsuit.”

School officials told Pastor Jim Johnson that his church, First Baptist Church of Maricopa, would not be allowed to distribute fliers for its Awana Journey 24 Club, a weekly Bible study program for high school students, because the fliers’ religious content and viewpoint are prohibited in the district’s flier distribution program.  The district decided to allow the fliers after ADF attorneys filed a motion with the court asking it to require the district to grant the church equal access to the program.

The district allows nonprofit organizations to distribute literature promoting events and activities “that extend the community’s cultural, recreational, artistic, or educational opportunities” as part of a literature distribution program.  However, groups expressing a religious viewpoint are specifically barred from participating.  ADF attorneys do not plan to drop their lawsuit, First Baptist Church of Maricopa v. Maricopa Unified School District No. 20, unless the written policy is also changed to accurately reflect the constitutional requirements of equal access.

“We appreciate the school district’s decision to do the right thing,” said ADF Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “We look forward to a change in district policy that will make that good decision permanent so that the free speech rights of community members and groups will continue to be protected.”

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.

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David A. Cortman
David A. Cortman
Senior Counsel, Vice President of U.S. Litigation
David A. Cortman serves as senior counsel and vice president of U.S. litigation with Alliance Defending Freedom.
Jeremy Tedesco
Jeremy Tedesco
Senior Counsel, Senior Vice President of Corporate Engagement
Jeremy Tedesco serves as senior counsel and senior vice president of communications for Alliance Defending Freedom.