A US school district that allowed bibles to be distributed to students is considering whether to remove all religious materials from its schools – after a charity announced plans to also provide pupils with books on atheism and Satan, it has been reported.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) has said it will place the literature in public schools in Colorado’s Delta County District next week as a response to the “continued passive distribution of Gideon bibles there”.
The district reportedly allowed the bibles to be handed out to students in December – a distribution that FFRF has claimed is “unconstitutional” as part of the public school day.
In retaliation, it has decided to provide a range of publications including ‘It’s ok not to believe in God’, ‘An x-rated book: sex and obscenity in the bible’, ‘The Satanic children’s big book of activities’, ‘why women need freedom from religion’, ‘what does the bible say about abortion’, and ‘what is a free thinker?’.
On its website, FFRF said: “Since the Delta County School District has told FFRF that it will keep on giving the Gideons access, FFRF is making sure that other perspectives get heard too”.
In a letter to the district sent earlier this month, FFRF’s staff attorney Andrew Seidel said: “The school district is not required to maintain this open forum and is free to close it rather than allow FFRF to distribute materials.
“We do not think schools should be a battleground for religious ideas.
“But when schools allow the Gideons to prey on children, their message of eternal damnation for any who don’t believe in their God must be countered.”
FFRF has said it has been working with the Delta County School District to “negotiate terms”.
On 1 April, school staff will place FFRF’s literature, along with material from the Western Colorado Atheists and Free Thinkers and the Satanic Temple, in school libraries for students to take if they wish, it said.
FFRF co-president Dan Barker added: “Schools exist to educate, not to serve as conduits for missionary groups.
“The Delta County School District could have resolved the issue by not allowing religious groups inside their schools.
“But since it has chosen to be obdurate, it’s left us with no option than to respond to the religious propagandising.”
According to local news channel KJCT, the district has “begun the process of revising its policy to remove all religious materials from schools while allowing students to receive other beneficial literature”.
It has reported that parents were apparently “in uproar” after word reached them of the intention of the FFRF to distribute atheist and Satanist literature.
The district has said it cannot discriminate against any groups in terms of non-curricular materials.
Kurt Clay, of the Delta County School District, told KJCT: “The way our policy is written is that we cannot discriminate against what is handed out. We just have to follow the process.”
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