Precedent-setting win for religious freedom in PA

With Christmas season right around the corner, a judge in Pennsylvania has upheld a student’s right to distribute fliers promoting a Christmas party during non-instructional time before class. A fifth-grader in a town near Scranton, Pennsylvania, was forbidden to hand out fliers inviting classmates to a Christmas party at her church, a gathering where “admission and all activities are free.”

It is important to note that the fliers were not the only ones handed out during the same pre-class time as other students throughout the year had been permitted to hand out invitations to birthday parties, Halloween galas, and Valentine dances. Community groups were also allowed to promote local sports leagues and classes, reports the Alliance Defense.

It was Alliance Defense Fund attorneys that brought suit against the Pocono Mountain School District, and on October 20, a judge ordered the school district to amend their policies. The judge sold the district to revisit and revise its highly subjective policies for deciding what fliers are and are not permissible, and to stop prohibiting any student expression, written or verbal, which promotes a specific religious point of view.

“Christian students have positive messages to share with other students that are not only protected by the Constitution, but that should be welcomed in public schools,” says ADF Senior Counsel David Cortman. “The court was right to stop this unconstitutional ban on Christmas party invitations as our lawsuit moves forward.”

Note: MFI authored and supports House Bill 2715 specifically written to protect student religious freedom in Massachusetts.

Source: Alliance Defense Fund

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