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Patti Wigington

Residents Protest School Board Ban on Bibles

By January 23, 2008

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A school board which had the good sense to prohibit the distribution of bibles in classrooms is now facing some anger from parents in their district.

The Hope Public Schools Board in Arkansas met Monday night, and heard from a group of around two dozen residents. Hope resident Shirley Cooper spoke on behalf of the group, and said, "We would like to express our concern about refusal to let the Gideons offer Bibles to fifth graders; it is not as if they are forcing anyone to accept one, only offer... This has been done as long as we can remember."

School board president Joe Short explained that if the board voted to approve the passing out of Bibles it would be in violation of the Establishment Clause, and thus violate the law. He said, "This could result in a lawsuit against the school that would not be won... I would much rather see our money going toward the education of our children."

You may recall that a Missouri court struck down a bible-distribution plan not too long ago.

Cooper said that the school board had never been sued before, but if they were, she believed "the Lord would fight this battle for us.”

Comments
January 23, 2008 at 3:18 pm
(1) Jacie Rae says:

A child who is in fifth grade is on the cusp of being a “tween” and therefore will go along with the crowd in order to gain approval. I don’t know any 10 year olds who will say “Excuse me, but I don’t believe in your God and I don’t want your bible.” They will accept it and possibly read some of it and become confused. If the Gideons want to distribute “little red testaments” then they should do it after the school day is complete and off school grounds. I applaude the board members for sticking to their guns and upholding the Constitution.

January 23, 2008 at 7:51 pm
(2) Cynthia says:

Did Ms. Cooper ever stop to think that the reason the school hadn’t been sued before was because it wasn’t public knowledge that the Gideons were passing out the bible’s? I agree with JacieRae, except I also know that even teenagers will “go along to get along”. If Ms. Cooper and her friends were doing their parental jobs, their children would already have bibles and the Gideons wouldn’t have to hand them out in their schools.

January 26, 2008 at 12:41 pm
(3) Decca Gaeafgwyrdd says:

We got Gideons Bibles in the first year of high school during the Christian part of our Religious Education class. No one read them and most of them ended up at the bottom of school bags, crushed.

I know the religious climate is different between the US and the UK, but kids are still kids and if something appears to be too much work, they’re not going to fall in to work. Have Gideons distribute the Bibles during RE class and those books will never see the light of day again!

I agree that it violates the seperation of church and state (wish we had that law in the UK!) and I truly believe that religious instruction can wait until hometime or Sunday school.

January 28, 2008 at 10:48 am
(4) Friend says:

There should be equal treatment for all faiths and beliefs. There are constitutional ways to distribute Bibles to children in public schools. The secret is to make sure there is no perception of “endorsement” of the faith who is allowed access to give away its literature to students.

Liberty Counsel won a similar case involving sending home religious news and materials in students’ takehome papers to families. Once the schools allow ANY outside group (United Way, Boy Scouts, CleanUp Crews, Martial Arts teams etc.) then the school has to allow the same access to religious groups.

Thank God for the US Constitution and the first amendment. There is no seperation of church and state in the constitution… only a disestablishment clause… which explains why government may honor God… and why religious groups may distribute their Bibles at public schools if done correctly.

January 29, 2008 at 11:28 pm
(5) The Reverend says:

“Liberty Counsel won a similar case involving sending home religious news and materials in students’ takehome papers to families. Once the schools allow ANY outside group (United Way, Boy Scouts, CleanUp Crews, Martial Arts teams etc.) then the school has to allow the same access to religious groups”

And the same parents who filed the suit threw a screaming, ranting hissy fit when the local UU church sent out a flyer for an upcoming Pagan-friendly event a few weeks later.

Will the Liberty Council defend my right to show up on the same day as the Gideons and pass out copies of The Book Of The Law, by Alister Crowley?

Thought so.

November 17, 2009 at 1:28 am
(6) noriinfique says:
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