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Maricopa School District says no to religious content on fliers

ADF attorneys file lawsuit on behalf of church

PHOENIX — Alliance Defense Fund attorneys filed a lawsuit in federal court Thursday after Maricopa Unified School District officials refused to allow a church to distribute its fliers to students.  The district allows non-profit 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 Counsel David Cortman.  “Prohibiting religious groups from taking part in an open forum while allowing all non-religious nonprofits to participate is a clear violation of the First Amendment according to well-established federal court precedent.”

Under its literature distribution program, the district allows nonprofit organizations to distribute literature promoting events and activities “that extend the community’s cultural, recreational, artistic, or educational opportunities.”  However, groups expressing a religious viewpoint are specifically barred from participating.

First Baptist Church of Maricopa and its pastor, Jim Johnson, were told that, due to the religious content and viewpoint of their materials, they would not be allowed to promote their Awana Journey 24 Club, a weekly Bible study program for high school students.

ADF attorneys filed suit on behalf of the church and also filed a motion requesting that the school be prohibited from barring the fliers from its literature distribution program while the case moves forward in court.

“Christians have the same First Amendment rights as anyone else in America,” said ADF Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco.  “School districts cannot treat people or groups with non-religious viewpoints more favorably than those with religious viewpoints.”

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.