FFRF objects to bible distribution at schools

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has sent letters of complaint objecting to the distribution of bibles at an elementary school in Alabama and at a high school graduation ceremony in Florida.

FFRF, a state/church watchdog with more than 23,000 members, sent letters to the school districts in Polk County (Fla.) and Limestone County (Ala.), asking them to stop distributing, or allowing the distribution of, bibles to students.

At Piney Chapel Elementary School, a teacher placed a stack of bibles on her desk and instructed students to each take one. The teacher informed the students that all fifth-graders in the school were receiving bibles in this manner. It is unknown whether it was a school-wide event, or whether just this one teacher was involved in the distribution.

"At least one teacher at Piney Chapel Elementary distributed bibles to students in her fifth-grade class in the fall of 2015," writes FFRF Staff Attorney Sam Grover.

"Courts have uniformly held that the distribution of bibles to students during the school day is prohibited. We write to ensure that this sort of bible distribution does not take place in the future."

As for the Bartow, Fla., case, a former student contacted FFRF to report that when he graduated from Bartow High School, bibles were given out after the graduation ceremony to students by the principal, Ron Pritchard. The principal has since retired, but bible distribution continues at the graduation ceremonies, according to the complainant.

"When a school distributes religious literature to its students, it entangles itself with that religious message," FFRF Staff Attorney Andrew Seidel writes. "Graduation is an important school-sponsored event that has the same constitutional requirements as a normal school day."

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational charity, is the nation's largest association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics), and has been working since 1978 to keep religion and government separate.

FFRF is a non-profit, educational organization. All dues and donations are deductible for income-tax purposes.

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FFRF is a member of the Secular Coalition for America

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