When nursing students at Colorado Mesa University graduate this December, they will go through a ceremonial “pinning” ceremony where they are welcomed into the profession. And after they step off the stage, they will be handed a Gideons Bible.
This wasn’t something the students asked for (and it wouldn’t be legal even if they wanted it). It makes no sense for a public school to hand graduates the Christian holy book, just as it would make no sense to give them a copy of the Qur’an or The God Delusion.
The students who approached WCAF listed three very clear goals that would satisfy them in regard to dealing with this situation:
1) They want to remain anonymous, out of fear of retribution and hindrance of their further career ambitions locally;
2) They want their entire nursing class of 31 students to be able to vote anonymously on whether to have religious materials available outside the pinning ceremony (with “outside” defined as a private room or outdoors).
• If the majority of the class votes yes, then religious material of ALL types and including information about atheism, shall be allowed to be present.
• If the majority of the class votes no, then presentation of religious material will be banned, including the Gideon’s Bible distribution.
3) They want to make it known to faculty that the Bible giveaway violates the law, and they want assurance that future nursing class students will not be put in the same uncomfortable position of having to deal with this issue or be made to feel bullied into accepting it.
All good options if the school wants to avoid a lawsuit.
If any method of distribution has the potential to create media publicity, the distribution must be cancelled or postponed.
The group is ready to take legal action if the school doesn’t address their concerns. Though if administrators don’t do the right thing, the Gideons should remove themselves from this situation anyway. There are plenty of ways for this to end well.
It’s really up to school officials if they want to make this ceremony about the new nurses or about promoting Jesus.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Joe for the link)