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U.S. District Court tells Florida school it cannot prohibit religious expression

Bob Kellogg   ( Thursday, July 18, 2013

A U.S. District Court in Florida has ordered public school officials to allow a fourth-grade student to hand out invitations to an Easter egg hunt. 

Alliance Defending Freedom filed a lawsuit after the principal at Roland H. Lewis Elementary told the fourth grader last year he could not hand out invitations to an Easter egg hunt last year because it was a religious event.

ADF attorney Matt Sharp said a U.S. District Court disagreed.

“We took it to court and got a fantastic court ruling,” Sharp tells OneNewsNow.

Sharp, Matt (ADF)Lewis Elementary is located in Temple Terrace, Florida, where it’s part of Hillsborough County Public Schools.

The ruling upheld the right of students to hand out materials that are religious in nature and, more specifically, the court struck down the school’s ban on proselytizing by students.

The student and his mother had created the fliers to announce a neighborhood Easter egg hunt, where students would hear the biblical story of Easter along with enjoying games and snacks.

The attorney says the court's ruling, that prohibiting proselytizing speech at school is unconstitutional, has far-reaching implications.

 “And we think that alone is going to be an influential option,” says Sharp, “not only in Florida but outside as well as courts begin to see that such bans on proselytizing are unconstitutional targets of religious speech by students.”

Sharp says at the same time his young client was prevented from handing out his invitations, other students and groups were allowed to distribute their invitations and fliers at school.

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