A couple of weeks ago, Ginger Strivelli‘s fifth-grade son came home from his school with a copy of the Bible. It was a shock to her since he attended a public school and she was a Pagan.
The school denies any wrong-doing, noting the box of Bibles was dropped off by the Gideons, who weren’t allowed any contact with the children. The Bibles were kept in the office where students could stop by for one if they wanted, and if any other religious group wanted to drop off their own texts, it would be handled in the same way.
Well, Strivelli decided to test that policy.
On Wednesday, she brought a box of Pagan books to the school.
Guess how that worked out? Believe it or not, the school wanted nothing to do with her books.
At the time, Principal Jackie Byerly said, “If another group wishes to do the same, I plan on handling that the same way as I have handled this.”
When Strivelli brought the Pagan books to the school Wednesday morning, she said she was told “a new policy is being crafted.”
“I’m not surprised a bit. That’s fully what I expected,” Strivelli said. “Basically, they were calling my bluff thinking I wouldn’t bring in the books.
“They’re changing the policy, which is wonderful. They shouldn’t (allow) it, but they shouldn’t have done it to start with. That makes it unfair after they have given out Christian propaganda.”
You would think someone in the Buncombe County school system would’ve just told a staffer, “If she stops by with Pagan books, just take them so we don’t look like hypocrites”… but they’re obviously not that smart.
At least they’re looking into their awful policy. This shouldn’t be a long review. It’s simple. You have a stupid policy. Change it. (See how I did that?)
The ACLU is still looking into a possible lawsuit.
Pagan blogger Jason Pitzl-Waters puts this into context:
Again and again it seem like certain Christian activists love the idea of inserting religion into the public sphere until it’s made plain that other, competing, ideas will be allowed as well. Then, the value of secularism suddenly reveals itself, at least until the law, or the demographics, change enough to allow them complete religious hegemony.
This is why we challenge public officials who give preferential treatment to Christians. They’re wrong. We’re right. We aren’t asking for special rights, only equal rights.
***Edit***: Mike Meno of the ACLU of North Carolina directs me to an article which explains the law behind this:
A 1998 federal court decision in a West Virginia case determined that religious literature can be left for high school students, but not at elementary schools, American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina Legal Foundation legal director Katy Parker said last month.
This is because elementary-age students can’t be expected to tell the difference between what’s school-sponsored material and what isn’t.