A complaint by the Freedom From Religion Foundation ensures bibles will no longer be distributed by the Gideon International in a Tennessee high school.
A concerned parent informed FFRF that the Gideons were allowed to distribute bibles in Madisonville Intermediate School. A parent reported that at different times during the day, teacher took their classes to the guidance counselor’s office where members of Gideons International preached at students, then handed each student a Christian bible.
FFRF Staff Attorney Andrew Seidel sent a letter in December to the district explaining why bible distribution entangles the district with unconstitutional religious endorsement:
“The District may not allow any religious groups to enter school property to distribute religious literature. Even if the students are not forced to accept these bibles, the school sends a clear message to the children in its charge who are non-adherents ’that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community.’”
On Feb. 21, the Monroe School District responded that it would not allow further distribution of Gideon bibles and would “work diligently to ensure student rights under all laws are upheld.”
A public school in Fertile, Minn., will no longer place a nativity scene in the cafeteria, as it did last December. According to local news sources, the display was temporarily removed, then put back up following a vote of the school board late last year.
FFRF Staff Attorney Patrick Elliott sent a letter to the Board of Education in December explaining why a public school may not lawfully maintain, erect, or host a nativity scene:
“The placement of a scene of the legendary birth of Jesus in a public school places the imprimatur of the school district behind Christian religious doctrine. Endorsements of Christianity in public schools are disturbing for those parents and students who are not Christians.”
On Feb. 28, the district’s attorney replied in writing assuring FFRF that the school board “rescinded its previous directive, which would allow ‘religious symbols as part of holiday decor as long as it is accompanies by other holiday decor.’”
The letter added, “The school district is fully aware of the current status of the applicable Federal and State statutes as well as court decisions regarding the issues at hand and intends to proceed in a fashion consistent with the law.”