FFRF stops bible distribution by Gideons at Indiana school (June 2, 2011)

In May 2011, FFRF was alerted that Gideon bibles were being distributed to fifth-grade students at McCormick’s Creek Elementary School in Spencer, Ind. On May 23, FFRF Staff Attorney Patrick Elliott wrote a letter of complaint to Spencer-Owen Community Schools Superintendent Greg Linton, informing him that teacher distribution of bibles is unconstitutional. Elliott said, “Public schools have a constitutional obligation to remain neutral toward religion. When a school distributes religious literature to its students, it has unconstitutionally entangled itself with a religious message, in this case a Christian message.”

Elliott added, “Whether or not a bible is forced on a student, this practice is still an unconstitutional endorsement of religion. . . . This matter is especially concerning given the young and impressionable age of elementary school students.”

On June 2, the school district’s attorney, Jack R. Woodruff, responded that students had been escorted by their teachers off school property during recess to receive Gideon bibles. Woodruff said that he believed that this practice was unconstitutional, and that Superintendent Linton had “communicated in writing to his entire administrative team, that the facilitation of Bible distribution to school students on school grounds is strictly forbidden.”

Woodruff continued, “In addition, Mr. Linton has taken it upon himself to make contact with the local director of Gideons International to advise him that their Bible distribution to public school students is in violation of the law and that Spencer-Owen Community Schools will not be complicit in their distribution.”

Freedom From Religion Foundation