The Freedom From Religion Foundation sent letters of complaint to 26 Oklahoma school districts after learning that Jamison Faught, son of Oklahoma State Representative George Faught, teamed up with Gideons International to unlawfully distribute bibles to students across the state.
Faught bragged on Facebook that he was "Spending the morning with fellow Gideons passing out Bibles to 5th grade students in Checotah, Eufaula and Stidham." When a commenter expressed surprise that he was allowed to do so, Faught continued, "Last several years, we've been able to do it at every school in McIntosh, Okmulgee and Ofuskee counties except one or two. Last year, the Checotah principal not only personally took us to each classroom, but he helped us hand them out!"
FFRF Staff Attorney Andrew Seidel wrote strong letters to the school districts involved. "It is unconstitutional for public school districts to permit the distribution of bibles as part of the public school day. Courts have uniformly held that the distribution of bibles to students at public schools is prohibited," he informed the districts.
"Parents carefully instruct their children not to accept any gifts from strangers. The Gideon practice of distributing bibles to schoolchildren teaches them to ignore that guidance," noted Seidel. "This predatory conduct is inappropriate and should raise many red flags."
The letter to Checotah Public Schools addressed Faught's claim that a Checotah Public Schools principal assisted in the distribution. "These allegations, if true, violate the Constitution and breach the trust between the District and parents – who are responsible for the religious or non-religious education of their children," wrote Seidel.
The letters concluded by asking each district to assure there would be no future bible distributions.
"Schools exist to teach, not preach," said FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. "Think of the brouhaha were imams to start coming into our public schools seeking to hand out Korans! New Testament distribution is equally inappropriate. FFRF has taken complaints over aggressive Gideon tactics, and complicity by school officials, for more than three decades. It's time for school officials to in Oklahoma to do their job, enforce the law and protect students from the Gideons."
FFRF is a national state/church watchdog with more than 21,500 members across the country, including over 150 in Oklahoma. FFRF played a major role in persuading Mustang Public Schools, Okla., to cancel plans to conduct an inappropriate bible class developed by Hobby Lobby President Steve Green, a zealous evangelical Christian, last year.