***Update***: FFRF reports that some of the books they proposed to distribute were censored by the district:
Last week the district announced formally that many submitted publications, including Sam Harris’ book, “Letter to a Christian Nation” and an essay, “The Truth,” by 19th century freethinker Robert G. Ingersoll, are being censored. Also censored: “Jesus Is Dead” a book by Robert Price, professor of philosophy and religion, “What on Earth is an Atheist,” a book by Madalyn Murray O’Hair, “Why I am Not a Muslim,” a book by Ibn Warraq, and several FFRF “nontracts,” including “Dear Believer,” “Why Jesus?” “What Does the Bible Say about Abortion?” and “An X-Rated Book.”
FFRF called the school district’s censorship of some of freethought publications illegal and is considering its options.
Back in January, World Changers of Florida, Inc. held a Bible distribution at a number of high schools in Orange County. How was that legal? Well, the rules were that the Bibles would just be placed on a table, no student would be forced to take one, and no representatives from the group would be talking with students. Daniel Koster, a student at Wekiva High School, posted about the distribution on this site.
Now, in response to that giveaway, the Central Florida Freethought Community is hosting one of their own — they will be distributing nontracts from the Freedom From Religion Foundation this Thursday as well as The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine:
Atheist groups plan to give out materials in 11 Orange County high schools Thursday, a reaction to a Bible distribution at the same schools in January.
“We want to close the door to religion in schools, not open it to Freethought,” said David Williamson, organizer of the Central Florida Freethought Community. But “if they’re going to have a religious discussion on campus, we need to be a part of it,” he said.
The targeted high schools are Apopka, Boone, Colonial, Cypress Creek, Edgewater, Evans, Jones, Timber Creek, University, Wekiva and Winter Park.
The materials will be left on a table in a common area for students to take. Volunteers may not interact with the students. The Bible distribution had to follow the same rules.
According to a press release from the Humanists of Florida Association, others are helping the atheists with their effort:
The freethought literature was donated by several individuals and organizations including: the Freedom From Religion Foundation, American Atheists, the Secular Student Alliance, American Humanist Association, the Florida Atheists and Secular Humanists, and the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science. Several prominent leaders in the secular movement will be on hand to talk to the media and help distribute materials including: Dan Barker, Co-President of the Freedom From Religion Foundation and former evangelical preacher; David Silverman, president of American Atheists; and Teresa MacBain, Executive Director of the Humanists of Florida Association.
Williamson is doing the right thing here — If you can’t beat them, join them. Until the school says no to all religious groups, they have to yes to everyone with a viewpoint about God.
Let’s hope Scientologists and Muslims ask for a distribution soon!
And if any students or parents are upset about the giveaway, they can take it up with the Christian group that primed the pump and allowed this to happen.