A schoolboy who, at the age of eight, was barred from handing out candy cane pens which included a message about Jesus has gone before the American courts this week.
The long-running case involves Jonathan Morgan, now 16, who wanted to give out the pens at his Texas school’s ‘Winter’ party.
The legal action now also involves the case of students who were barred from writing “Merry Christmas” in cards to US soldiers and a little girl who got into trouble over handing out tickets to a religious play.
Pro-family organisation the Liberty Institute is running the case and it has also attracted backing from a US civil rights campaign group.
The Liberty Institute says young schoolchildren’s constitutional right to free speech is being threatened by the case.
Kelly Shackelford, President and CEO of the group, said if the case was lost it would “be a massive shift of power away from citizens and families to the government”.
Speaking on behalf of the Liberty Institute were two former US Solicitors General – a top legal position in the US justice system – Kenneth Starr and Paul Clement.
Unusually the case was heard by all 17 judges at the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, something reserved for cases of national impact.
A decision from the court is expected in the Autumn, but Mr Shackelford thinks the case will go all the way to the Supreme Court.
In March this year it was revealed that a schoolchild in America was banned from handing out invitations to classmates for a Christmas party held in a church.
Local education officials in Pennsylvania said allowing the invitations would breach its rules against promoting Christianity.
But the same school has allowed flyers for Hallowe’en parties and Valentine’s Day dances. The case was taken up by religious liberty group, Alliance Defense Fund.