FFRF turns the page on North Dakota bible distribution (April 9, 2012)

Hagan Elementary School in Williston, N.D., will no longer permit representatives of Gideons International to distribute bibles to its youngest students.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation took issue with a particularly egregious situation that occurred in a fifth grade classroom. Students returning from music class found bibles placed on each of their desks. The teacher then led the class in a discussion of the bible. “It is unconstitutional for public school districts to allow the distribution of bibles during the school day. Courts uniformly have held the distribution of bibles to students at public schools during instructional time is prohibited,” wrote FFRF Staff Attorney Stephanie Schmitt in a letter of complaint to Superintendent Viola LaFontaine.

Schmitt maintained that Williston Schools may not allow Gideons or any other religious groups, to enter school property to distribute religious literature, or to engage in bible discussions.

In an April 9 response letter LaFontaine affirmed, “Please be assured this will not happen again and bibles will not be distributed in any of the Williston Public School District #1 Schools.” 

Freedom From Religion Foundation