Kansas elementary Gideon bible giveaway

By Joshua H. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/eparses/10966575065) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The AHA gave legal notice to the school district

Herington Elementary School, located in Kansas, has consented to end the school’s annual Bible giveaway tradition. The public school permitted Gideons International, a Christian organization, to give away Bibles for free within its school grounds. The decision to stop the Bible giveaway was made after the school received complaints from a number of parents and also from American Humanist Association (AHA). AHA is a non-theist advocacy organization.

Gideons International is an international entity known for its free Bible distribution activity not only in schools but also in hotel rooms across the world. Herington Elementary School’s last Bible giveaway was done during December. Bibles were placed on a table and students studying in fifth grade were asked to take a Bible without cost. Ron Wilson, the Herington Schools superintendent, said that the school has no intention to impose any kind of ideology on anyone. He said that he visited the school principal and then they took the decision to stop the yearly tradition of giving away the Bible for one day. He continued on to say that the district respects the constitutional rights and religious beliefs of every student. The school district will thus no longer permit the distribution of any kind of religious materials.

The AHA’s legal branch has sent its letter to the school district, demanding that this practice must come to an end. The organization did so after it received a number of complaints from parents. Monica Miller, the lawyer of Appignani Humanist Legal Center, said that the actions undertaken by the district to help the Gideons in their Bible distribution to the elementary students is clearly a breach of Establishment Clause inherent in the Constitution of the United States. The organization then demanded that the students give the assurance of this practice ending immediately. The letter sent by Appignani details an extended list of a number of court cases restricting religion within public schools. The organization strongly hinted at implementing legal moves if the distribution of the Bible stops from that time.

As per Jeff Jackson, the Professor of Constitutional Law at Washburn University, Bibles can be distributed outside classrooms only if other groups are permitted to do same. He said it is not allowed in elementary schools as the courts have ruled that, that young students are specifically susceptible to coercion. Pointing out that because “of their age, they’re particularly impressionable.”


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