Two Florida School Districts Plan to Distribute Bibles, So Atheist Groups Are Ready to Offer Their Own Literature

The Christian group World Changers of Florida, Inc. is very excited about its upcoming plans to distribute Bibles to high school students:

We are excited to again be able to distribute Bibles in Collier and Orange county high schools. Our members and volunteers from many local churches will place Bibles on tables during the lunch periods for students to pick up. We have given out thousands of Bibles over the last few years and we are working to expand the program to many other school districts.

You might be wondering if that’s legal. Well, it *can* be so long as it’s passive. They’re allowed to leave Bibles for students to pick up as long as they’re not speaking to students, pressuring anyone to take a copy, or even maintaining a presence at the table.

The Bible handout is being allowed after the World Changers sued Collier County School Board for not allowing the passively distribution of bibles. The outcome resulted in the consent decree, which allows the passive distribution of Bibles under certain requirements.

The court order states that anyone must be allowed to distribute materials in a school, with certain exceptions, such as no promotion of drugs, alcohol, pornography and advertisements for products.

By the same measure, though, people of other faiths and no faith should be allowed to do the exact same thing, right…?


So if we want to fight back, there are a couple of ways to do it: Request that the school districts also distribute atheist reading material or pressure them to say no to all of these kinds of requests in the future.

Since the districts seem intent on allowing the “passive” distribution, it seems like we only have one option left…

Not a problem.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation just sent the districts letters laying out their options (PDF), but they’re fully ready to send over FFRF nontracts (emphasis theirs):

We encourage you to amend… policies so that only school-sponsored materials may be distributed to students and to halt all distributions, including those scheduled for this week, until such a policy can be adopted. This avoids the difficult First Amendment issues that arise when the school becomes involved in distributing materials for other groups…

If your policy remains unchanged, we are interested in distributing our own materials… if [your district] does not halt all distributions, including the bible distributions scheduled for this week, please contact me immediately so that we may arrange for the distribution of FFRF materials… sometime in the next two weeks.

American Atheists is taking similar action, requesting that books written by the group’s founder be made available to students seeking an alternative to the Bible (emphasis mine):

David Silverman, President of American Atheists said, “Orange County is showing favoritism by allowing the distribution of Bibles in the county high schools. This is an issue of preserving the rights of all students, regardless of their beliefs. “Silverman continues, “We will be moving forward to distribute books written by Madalyn Murray O’Hair on atheism in the same manner. Our request will be presented to the school board asking for a specific date when we can place our books in the schools. We expect equal treatment for us; as well as any and all other religions that want to distribute their literature in the same manner.”

By the way, the winner for most inane comment has to go to “Lily,” a Christian who clearly doesn’t get what the controversy is all about:

So far, there’s no response from the school districts regarding the atheist literature.

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.