In Oklahoma, a School District Is Debating Bible Distribution to Children

When it comes to the distribution of religious books in public schools, the laws are very simple: If you allow the holy books of one faith to be handed out in school, you must allow the holy books of all faiths. You’re better off, though, not handing out anything like that at all.

Gideons International — the group best known for their hotel room Bibles — has a long history of handing out Bibles to children in elementary school and they recently tried to get their books into the Grove Public Schools in northeastern Oklahoma. (Because I guess there are no churches in the state…?)

The school board, knowing a lawsuit would come their way if they allowed it, said no.

Earlier this week, though, more than 100 residents spoke out at a school board meeting urging the officials to reconsider their decision:

The Rev. Tony Wisdom and lawyer Robert Plunk urged the five-member school board to rethink the ban, which was approved this year after complaints and threats of a lawsuit from parents.

Plunk told the board that the Rotary Club gives dictionaries to third-graders and that Bibles can be offered as long as it is done in the same manner.

The board did not address the policy during the meeting and took no action.

Wisdom, who spoke to thunderous applause, said students should be given access to the greatest book ever written.

The minority should not override the majority, he said, adding that other religions also should have the right to give out materials.

Did they seriously just compare the Bible to a dictionary? That’s crazy talk. One’s full of wisdom and is an essential component of a good education… and the other’s the Bible.

And what’s with this minority/majority argument? The majority doesn’t get to overturn the constitution on a whim.

At least the school leadership is opposed to bringing divisive religion into the district, right?

Of course not:

“There were people that wanted us to lose our jobs for allowing the Gideons to pass out Bibles last year,” Superintendent Sandy Coaly said Wednesday.

“We were told if we allowed them to be passed out the school would be sued,” Coaly said. “If it was me personally, we would have them (Bibles) in our backpack and read them 30 minutes a day.”

30 minutes a day?! I guess if you cut out science class, you could always throw in Bible-readin’-time…

But here’s what we’ll do. If the school district allows these Bibles to be distributed in the schools, I vow to raise money on this site to purchase books about atheism and have them sent to every school in the district. I’ll throw in some Korans while I’m at it.

Rev. Wisdom even said “other religions… should have the right to give out materials” so let’s call his bluff.

Or we can just let the Freedom From Religion Foundation know. The fear of the impending lawsuit will scare the district back into submission.

(Thanks to Beau for the link)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.