Nevada church wrongly barred from flier handouts at school district, legal watchdog says

yerlington middle school

Lawyers with First Liberty Institute recently sent a letter to the Lyon County School District in Yerington, Nevada and demanded that they allow their client, Calvary Chapel Dayton Valley to have equal participation rights in the school’s community flyer distribution plan.  (Lyoncsd.org. Inset, First Liberty Insititute)

A cadre of attorneys has asked a Nevada school district to reverse their decision in preventing a church from sharing fliers with their students for community events.

The lawyers with First Liberty Institute and Michigan-based law firm Lipson Neilson sent a letter to the Lyon County School District in Yerington, Nevada, and demanded that they allow their client, Calvary Chapel Dayton Valley, to have equal participation rights in the school’s community flyer distribution plan. The district allows all other sorts of community organizations to hand out fliers to both parents and students about extracurricular events and activities, but a new policy has forced Calvary to remove all religious references or stop distribution altogether.

“We hope the school district will let our client participate in the community information program just like everyone else by ending its discriminatory new policy,” Stephanie Taub, counsel for First Liberty, said in a statement provided to Fox News. “The First Amendment requires school districts to be neutral toward religion. They may not single out a church’s flyers for censorship, and they may not force the church to scrub the flyers of any religious language. That is hostility toward religion.”

First Liberty and Lipson Neilson claim that the district in Lyon County has distributed flyers to the student body for events, such as outdoor programs, sports leagues and Halloween parties from a variety of local, community organizations, but is preventing Calvary Chapel from distributing fliers for similar events because they included phrases like “worship music” and “devotional.”

Calvary Chapel Dayton Valley is described by First Liberty as a church in Dayton, Nevada whose ministry includes a broad range of activities for local community members. The chapel sponsors a wide range of youth events, such as outdoor excursions as well as “Youth Nights,” which include foosball, air hockey, basketball, and free food. The events are free of charge and open to all youth.

The attorneys from First Liberty and Lipson Neilson say that the move to block the chapel’s fliers goes against the constitutional law.

“Not only is this practice unconstitutional, it defeats the very purpose of providing community information,” said Amber Williams, associate attorney with Lipson Neilson, said in a statement provided to Fox News. 

“By removing all religious references from the flyers, parents and students have no way of knowing about the nature of the events and cannot make informed decisions about whether to attend.”

 

Perry Chiaramonte is a reporter for FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter at @perrych