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Gideons banned from Mich. school after FFRF complaint (Dec. 22, 2014)

Zeeland Public Schools, Mich., will not allow Gideons to distribute bibles on school ground in the future thanks to the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

On Oct. 17, Gideons International representatives distributed bibles to students, a parent informed FFRF. A teacher reportedly told students she would like each one to take a bible home.

“There is no excuse or justification for this practice. It is unnecessary, offensive, and illegal,” wrote FFRF Staff Attorney Sam Grover. Grover continued, citing a Supreme Court case: “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 nonadherents ‘that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community and accompanying message to adherents that they are insiders, favored members of the political community.’ ”

Assistant Superintendent Jon Voss responded Dec. 22, saying they agreed Gideons should not have been allowed on school property to distribute bibles. Voss said the district would make it clear to all building administrators that “third parties without a connection to the school – like Gideons – are not allowed on school property to distribute information to our students.” Voss also said the district would contact the Gideons directly and let them know they would not be permitted on school property in the future.