The Freedom From Religion Foundation commends Opelika City Schools in Alabama for ensuring that future high school graduations will be free of bible distributions.
The national state/church watchdog received a complaint some months ago from a concerned parent about envelopes handed to graduating students at the Opelika High School graduation ceremony last summer that included Gideon bibles among the graduation materials. Distribution of the bibles violates the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, FFRF emphasized, which prevents public schools from proselytizing a captive audience of students.
FFRF Anne Nicol Gaylor Legal Fellow Sammi Lawrence wrote a letter to Opelika City Schools Superintendent Farrell Seymore stating, “When a public school distributes religious literature to its students, it entangles itself with that religious message.” Lawrence added: “Distributing bibles needlessly alienates students who are non-Christians, including those belonging to the almost 30 percent of Americans who are not religious.”
The school district’s legal counsel recently responded by assuring the state/church watchdog, stating that, “Gideons has been advised that no bibles will be accepted for distribution from this point forward.”
FFRF is gratified that the district was receptive to its advocacy on behalf of the Constitution.
“Graduation is a celebration of students’ achievements, and 13 years of secular education — not an opportunity to promote religion,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “Opelika City Schools made the right decision to respect freedom of conscience, and we’re pleased about that.”
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with more than 39,000 members across the country, including hundreds of members in Alabama. Its purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.