Last week, at Seitz Elementary School in Kansas, students were told they could leave class early in order to pick up a copy of the Bible. The Gideons had left a bunch of copies on tables in the hallway.
The student in question is an atheist. On November 4, she was encouraged by her school to take a Gideon Bible, which were displayed prominently on a table in the hallway outside the classrooms, near the exit doors in the central 4th and 5th grade pod. The majority of 4th and 5th graders must pass through the pod to leave for the day. The Bibles were made available at the end of the day, during “pack up” time. Teachers informed children that they could leave the classroom during pack up time to get a Bible and then come back to the classroom to pack up.
The Bible distribution made the student feel extremely uncomfortable; she also felt that the school was pushing religion on her. On November 5, the mother called the superintendent’s office. She spoke with the superintendent’s secretary who insisted that the schools are within their rights to have the Gideons distribute Bibles as long as the children are not forced to take them. The next day, the mother contacted the principal who confirmed that the Gideons come to school once a year to distribute the Bibles. The principal also confirmed that teachers invited students to leave class early during “pack up” time to get Bibles, and then return to class with Bibles. The principal indicated that the Gideons would return next year to distribute their Bibles to elementary school children and that the school would not cease this practice.
Some conservative groups may be quick to jump on the word “uncomfortable,” as if that’s what atheists are complaining about here. It’s not. This is all about equality: Is the school giving a Christian group an opportunity that no other group receives?
Right now, that appears to be the case.
“This is a subversive attempt to intimidate students into accepting the Bible in a public school,” said Roy Speckhardt, American Humanist Association executive director. “Public school teachers should focus on educating, not religious proselytizing.”
The AHA is making the following requests of the District:
Based on the above, we demand the following assurances: (1) The School District and its agents must refrain from leading, authorizing, permitting or condoning the formal distribution of Bibles at any elementary or middle school premises and during school hours, or immediately before or immediately after school hours; (2) That teachers in your school district be advised that they are not permitted to distribute Bibles to students in class or during class time; and (3) That teachers be instructed that under no circumstances should they attempt to persuade or invite students to take Bibles during class time.
Unless these administrators are willing to put out some Satanic coloring books as well, this has to stop, otherwise a lawsuit will be coming their way.
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