Colorado school district has approved the distribution of Atheist and Satanic material to students.
Students in the rural school district of Delta, Colorado, will be given pamphlets and books on Atheism and Satanism. The move comes in response to complaints from outraged parents after the school district gave out Gideon Bibles to students in December at a Gideons-sponsored event. Parents said this violated the separation of church and state and demanded they be permitted to distribute non religious literature as well.
The literature and brochure titles made available last week include a brochure called It’s Okay to Not Believe in God!, a coloring book authored by The Satanic Temple, a book on the separation of church and state; and another on sex and obscenity in the Bible, which the school district censored with stickers.
The group behind the literature is known as Freedom from Religion Foundation, a Madison, Wisconsin-based group who had previously successfully sued over a similar distribution policy in Orlando, Florida schools. They got involved after complaints from a mother in December through the Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers (WCAF) which contacted the foundation. According to Anne Landman, the founder of Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers, her complaint was that Bibles were present on tables designated for pamphlet and book distribution and there were reports that students who declined to take a Bible were bullied.
First Bibles passed out in Colorado school district, now Satanic Coloring Books:https://t.co/rIAKnK8NMt
— Joe Giuliani (@Ed_news1) March 31, 2016
WCAF had initially protested the Bible event directly to the Delta County School District but, according to the group’s blog, was repeatedly barred by several district officials and eventually told that the distribution of Bibles on the school property during school hours did not violate any school policy. All this changed on the involvement of the Freedom from Religion Foundation.
FFRF’s attorney Andrew L. Seidel, in the letter directed to the school district, said “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.” He referenced a similar case in Florida that ended up as a lawsuit that cost the Orange County Public Schools close to $90,000 and moreover they resulted to approving all the literature for distribution.
The district, in turn, collaborated to avoid a costly lawsuit as well as supporting religious diversity by exposing children to different religious views.
According to the Delta County School District spokesman, Kurt Clay, the school’s policy is that it cannot discriminate against material unless it supports “hostility or violence, commercial purposes by advertising a product, interferes with the schools, promotes candidacy in an election or is obscene or pornographic.”
As of now, school officials are taking into consideration a revision of the policy to exclude religious matters and beliefs as a whole, although this is a pretty lengthy process.