“Chicken Dance” now bible-free in Arkansas (July 7, 2011)

After receiving complaints from FFRF and local parents, Gideons International will no longer be able to distribute bibles in the public schools in Conway, Ark.

In June 2011, FFRF received a complaint from concerned parents in Conway who informed FFRF that their sixth-grade child had told them that Gideons were distributing bibles after an assembly at Ruth Doyle Intermediate School. The “Chicken Dance” assembly, raising money for charity, was mandatory and took place during instructional time. After the assembly, Gideons were located in the hallway outside the cafeteria exit, where all students would have to walk past them. The complainant also informed FFRF that the same type of bible distribution had occurred during previous school years.

On July 7, 2011, FFRF Staff Attorney Patrick Elliot sent a letter to Conway Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Greg Murry, informing him that bible distribution on school grounds is illegal and asking for an end to this practice. Elliott explained, “When a school distributes religious literature to its students, it has unconstitutionally entangled itself with a religious message, in this case a Christian message.”

Later that same day, Superintendent Murry replied to Elliott via email, informing FFRF that he had recently met with other concerned parents and that the district would “discontinue the distribution of Gideon Bibles.” He also state that the Gideons had been informed of this decision.

Freedom From Religion Foundation