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Religious group says Montgomery County schools block fliers

October 24, 2005

ROCKVILLE, Md. (AP) - A Christian group has accused the Montgomery County school system of continuing to block it from sending fliers home with students that advertise after-school Bible study classes.

The Child Evangelism Fellowship, or CEF, filed an appeal Wednesday in the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va.

Montgomery blocked the group from sending materials home with students because the fliers were considered too religious. CEF filed suit in 2001, lost in a lower federal court but eventually won last year in the appeals court, which sent the case back to District Court. The Bush administration filed a brief in the case in support of CEF.

The school system responded by formalizing its flier policy, only allowing material from the schools, public agencies, parent-teacher groups, sports leagues and day-care groups. All fliers had to be approved by a regional superintendent.

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Meanwhile, a District Court ruled against CEF again in March. The latest appeal seeks to overturn that order, saying the new policy still unfairly excludes CEF.

"MCPS continues to distribute fliers for a broad range of community and governmental groups, including religious groups and groups whose activities are analogous to CEF's," the filing reads.

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