In Michigan, Educators Are Re-Introduced to an Old School of Thought

It really is amazing how pervasive ignorance is in our tax-funded public schools, when it comes to the meaning of the liberty that is protected by the First Amendment.

ClassroomIn Holly, Michigan, a young student at Patterson Elementary noticed that his classmates placed invitations to birthday parties and other events in the cubbyholes reserved for such announcements.  His church was offering a summer camp for youth, so his mother gave him some flyers inviting his friends and classmates to participate.

A teacher saw the boy putting the flyers in the cubbyholes, and told him that church-related materials could not be distributed at a public school.  The teacher then removed all the flyers, ordered the boy to place them in his backpack, and reported the incident to the principal … who, when contacted by the boy’s mother, reminded her that the so-called “separation of church and state” prohibited any handing out of church information on school property.

The mother asked if she and her son might send the flyers home, then, with the students – the same way information and announcements for all the other community clubs and organizations – Girl Scouts, 4-H Club, summer camps – were sent home.  No, the principal told her – the same church/state prohibitions applied.  The mom then contacted the district superintendent, who affirmed the principal’s position.

After months of attempting to resolve the problem with the district, our attorneys filed a lawsuit on the family’s behalf against the Holly Area School District.  On October 26, a federal court ruled that the district’s ban against the distribution of religious materials violated both the student’s and his mother’s First Amendment-protected rights.

The judge also ordered the district to stop enforcing its ban against students handing out flyers, stating that “such a blanket prohibition upon a student’s distribution of materials on the basis of religious viewpoint is not constitutionally permissible.”  Nor, the judge said, could the district deny the mother’s request to send flyers home with students – “on the sole ground that she seeks to distribute materials promoting religious activities” – while still allowing other community groups to distribute flyers for their events.

“Christians shouldn’t be discriminated against and silenced because of their beliefs,” said ADF Senior Counsel David Cortman.

“When the speech of students and community groups are allowed free reign, while those with a religious affiliation are censored, we have a direct violation of the U.S. Constitution,” said ADF Litigation Staff Counsel Matthew Sharp.  “Churches should have no less of a voice than any other groups that benefit the community.”

Joel J. Kirkpatrick of Farmington Hills, Michigan, one of more than 1,800 attorneys in the ADF alliance, served as local counsel in this case.  Please be in prayer for him and for all of our attorneys, as they continue their faithful, diligent efforts to help educators nationwide understand the full meaning of the First Amendment.  Holding the line in these cases is critical to preserve what America was meant to be.

Author: Alan Sears



  • Bill Bates

    Is the ADF making any headway and stride in persuading the
    U. S. Supreme Court in overturning the 1963-4 decision in banning the Bible and prayer in our public schools, and restoring that freedom and liberty back to our schools, in the same way pro-life Christians are trying to persuade the Supreme Court to overturn the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision on legalizing abortion? If so, what headway and appeals have been accomplished in that regard?

  • Joan Raa b

    Why isn’t the statement of “separation of church and state” being challenged in the courts as a false statement attributed to the constitution? I think if this were examined and proven in the courts we could have the freedom OF religion that our founding fathers intended.

  • Luis

    Dewey and Spock did great work in saturating the schools and society with their humanism. The teacher in this case, first, doesn’t know anything about the separation of church and state myth, and second, who would be surprised if she isn’t an active, sincere member of some nonEvangelical denomination.

  • Arvin Vaughan

    I am amazed how the ungodly have managed to silence people of faith and call it a violation of the “separation of church and state” There is no such expression in our constitution.
    Keep us our fight for freedom in the public places. Blessings to you all. Arvin Vaughan

  • Doris Soule

    If our Founding Fathers weren’t Christians, how do you account for these quotations?

    “On my honor and the faith of a Christian…,” an oath George Washington used in a private letter.
    First Chief Justice John Jay: “…it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.”

    Thomas Jefferson: “Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis…these liberties are a gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep forever.” Those aren’t the words of a Deist (one who believes in God as only the Creator of the world).

    Benjamin Franklin at the Constitutional Convention: “…the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth, that God governs in the affairs of men….I move that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven…be held in this Assembly.” Earlier, he had urged the schools to teach: “…the necessity of a public religion…and the excellency of the Christian religion above all others…”

    John Adams stated: “The Christian religion is above all the religions that ever prevailed or existed in ancient or modern times, the religion of wisdom, virtue, equity and humanity…”

    James Madison wrote to William Bradford: “…publicly to declare the unsatisfactoriness (of temporal enjoyments) by becoming fervent advocates in the cause of Christ and I wish you may give in your evidence in this way.”

    A boy witness of Bunker Hill, John Quincy Adams on the 4th of July, 1837, spoke: “…the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Saviour…the Declaration of Independence first organized the social compact on the foundation of the Redeemer’s mission upon earth…it laid the corner stone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity…”