Parents protest when child brings Bible home from school

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CRAWFORD, Ga. -- An Oglethorpe County Elementary School parent has complained after his daughter came home from school with a Bible, but school officials say they don't discriminate and let students decide whether to accept free reading material.

Fifth-grade students at the end of the school day Friday were told they could pick up the pocket-sized Bibles from a table set up by two members of the Gideons, an international group of evangelicals known for passing out the holy book.

"I'm not normally someone to get bent out of shape over every little thing," said Peter Wiley, who lives in Crawford. "I just thought it was just an egregious thing of crossing the line of church and state since she had no other opportunity to pick up any other book or something else to learn from."

The school didn't require the students to take the Bibles home and the exchange didn't occur during the school day, according to Kim Lord, the school's principal.

"They were not forced upon students; they were available to pick one up as they were leaving for their transportation," Lord said. "It was a table just as if they were picking up a pamphlet for parks and rec or any other activity students have an opportunity for."

School administrators and officials also were following federally established guidelines for distributing free materials in schools, which does not exclude religious material, Superintendent Raymond Akridge said.

"On the face of it, our schools are not taking a position of evaluating the materials for religious purposes or any other purpose," Akridge said.

"We allow the principals to make the decision whether or not the Gideons (in this case) are allowed a table at the school," Akridge said. "It's for fifth grade only and it is announced that any student who would like to have a Bible is welcome to pick one up in the hallway on that table. ... There's never a conversation between the Gideon representatives who just stand by the materials and the students who just walk by and take a Bible."

Other school systems, like Madison County's, follow the same unwritten policy, deferring to the federal law, Superintendent Mitch McGhee said.

"That's what the law states, that you can have an open forum such as that so if the Church of Latter Day Saints or an Islamic group if they wanted to lay out some materials, then they would have to do it as well ... it's either all or nothing, you can't pick and choose."

If the school system has never denied other religious groups the same opportunity to display materials, then schools aren't doing anything wrong, said Debra Seagraves, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Georgia.

"If the local mosque or synagogue asked to display materials and they got turned down, we might have a troublesome situation," Seagraves said. "So, the existence of the Gideon Bible is not in and of itself any kind of a violation."

While the ACLU in Georgia agrees with local school leaders' approach, the issue of distributing Bibles at schools has stirred controversy in other places.

In Texas, the ACLU investigated numerous complaints at 10 schools where classes were disrupted or students harassed by Bible distribution.

Students in one district threw the books or used them to harass Jewish classmates, according to an ACLU report published this month. Christian students were upset by the defacement of their sacred text, and some parents complained that students were coerced into taking the Bibles.

In July, the United States Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a decision that ended the practice of distributing Bibles in a rural public school system in Eastern Missouri, prohibiting the Gideons from handing out the books on school property at any time during the school day.

"I don't think there's a gray area when you're passing out Bibles in a school," Wiley said. "It's wrong. It's definitely something parents should be aware of that it happened, should have been aware of before it happened, and should not have ever happened."

The Oglethorpe County school board could consider a policy that would prohibit anyone from distributing free materials and information in schools, if the community wanted that change, Akridge said.

"The board does not have a policy in this area. They may want to develop a policy in this area, but until that time, that's the context in which were moving," Akridge said.

"At this point it has not become a problem, but if it does, the board of education may want to address that," Akridge said. "The point may come when we have no groups come in to the school if we have groups that violate community standards."

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TechLover
15
Points
TechLover 10/15/09 - 06:50 am
0
0
Trust me, if the Mormons,

Trust me, if the Mormons, Moonies, Scientologists, or Krishnas set up a table, a policy will be enacted immediately

Captain Obvious
0
Points
Captain Obvious 10/15/09 - 06:52 am
0
0
Just for the record, it's the

Just for the record, it's the Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints. And I totally agree with TechLover, even though that's an interesting bunch you grouped us up in... ;-)

stillamazed
1488
Points
stillamazed 10/15/09 - 07:24 am
0
0
Apparently policy was

Apparently policy was followed and the child was not forced to pick up the Bible if she chose to then that is on her, it was not forced on her and once again someone is just trying to get media attention. There are more serious issues in this country to worry about than some free bibles sat on a table.

andywarhol
0
Points
andywarhol 10/15/09 - 07:29 am
0
0
SMWHR, that's what i was

SMWHR, that's what i was going to say. Now if the parent offended wants to he can go out and purchase all the alternative reading material for the kids.

Javital
0
Points
Javital 10/15/09 - 07:39 am
0
0
This was a waste of my time

This was a waste of my time to read this... He needs to inform his daughter not to pick things up if she don't know what it is!!

WhippingPost
1
Points
WhippingPost 10/15/09 - 07:49 am
0
0
Plain and simple, Javital.

Plain and simple, Javital. Unfortunately, the lefties must show how wonderful they think they are with their endless complaints. No personal responsibility. One size MUST fit all. I use them as examples for my children of how NOT to act.

My Opinion
0
Points
My Opinion 10/15/09 - 07:55 am
0
0
Thank God for the Gideons who

Thank God for the Gideons who take their lives in their hands when they go into today's school. If the kids read ANY Bible they might, just might, stop setting kids on fire over a bike, asaults on their peers, no regard for others and who knows - they may even pull their baggy britches up.

HHSgrad
7
Points
HHSgrad 10/15/09 - 08:10 am
0
0
Amen! Believer in Santa - I

Amen! Believer in Santa - I agree with you 100%.

corgimom
32527
Points
corgimom 10/15/09 - 08:11 am
0
0
If your child brought home a

If your child brought home a free copy of the Koran, I bet most of you would be pretty unhappy.

inthearea
15
Points
inthearea 10/15/09 - 08:30 am
0
0
So what. If the kids want a

So what. If the kids want a Bible, let them have it. That's what' s wrong with the kids today. If they want religion in their lives then let them have it. You want a Bible, email me. I'll give you one.

lady_alessandra
0
Points
lady_alessandra 10/15/09 - 08:32 am
0
0
If you don't want it in your

If you don't want it in your house, get rid of it. It's the same with the stuff on tv, if you don't want it in your house, then don't let it. Stop griping about everything.

disssman
6
Points
disssman 10/15/09 - 08:46 am
0
0
I am sure the kids wern't

I am sure the kids wern't made to pick up a Bible. But were those that didn't [ick up listed for further watching and silent punishment? I mean after all in the eyes of some christians, to not pick up a bible would be grounds for declaring a kid an unbeliever. The school system should fire this principal immediately for not following the law.

cobweb
0
Points
cobweb 10/15/09 - 09:11 am
0
0
Schools should focus on

Schools should focus on teaching children things like reading and math. I am a Christian and I would be irritated if my child came home from school with a Bible. I don't trust the school (or whoever they allow to hand out the Bibles) to discuss their particular brand of theology with my children.

Also, I know I would be livid if my young child was given a Quran at school without my knowledge (and the oportunity to discuss it with him in advance). I'm sure parents of other faiths would feel similarly about the Bible.

truthisstillhere
0
Points
truthisstillhere 10/15/09 - 09:12 am
0
0
if the other religions don't

if the other religions don't make an effort to ask to go into the schools then they and their followers should not complain because another does...and nobody twisted that child's arm to take one...and if my kid brought home a koran then great...as long as it was in english and i could read it too...ignorance of other religions is one of the biggest causes of of intolerance...if you want to debate religion then you should know what your speaking to

ANGEL
0
Points
ANGEL 10/15/09 - 09:13 am
0
0
When God and prayers were

When God and prayers were removed from the schools that was when all the horrible trouble started.

FaceTheMusic
0
Points
FaceTheMusic 10/15/09 - 09:20 am
0
0
If Rev. Moon or a group of

If Rev. Moon or a group of Muslims show up with materials in Oglethorpe County, you'll see a new policy enacted immediately. No religious group should be giving out religious materials in public schools.

FaceTheMusic
0
Points
FaceTheMusic 10/15/09 - 09:26 am
0
0
Prayer has never been removed

Prayer has never been removed from public school. I can assure you that every child, no matter his/her religion, prays fervently before every test. Now, if you're talking about forcing every child, no matter his/her religion, to listen to a Christian prayer, that's a different story.

themaninthemirror
0
Points
themaninthemirror 10/15/09 - 09:31 am
0
0
There will be a day, when

There will be a day, when that man is burning in hell, that he will beg for a bible.

Bored in GA
2
Points
Bored in GA 10/15/09 - 09:33 am
0
0
A fifth graders whom have a

A fifth graders whom have a desire to read on the Bible should have that choice..Parents wake up...If you had been teaching from your BIBLE..she would have known which one to carry home and which one not..She must believe in something..and THAT is as good as it gets..God have mercy on her parents!

anotherlook
90
Points
anotherlook 10/15/09 - 09:49 am
0
0
I agree that proselytization

I agree that proselytization in the public schools should not be allowed. Like some posters here, I would want the school to focus on my child's educational goals and leave his or her religious upbringing to our family. However, if my child came home with a copy of the Koran that he or she had voluntarily picked up and brought home, I would consider that to be a teaching moment. It would depend on the age of the child of course. But if he or she were old enough, we could have a great dialogue about world religions and how the individuals, institutions, cultures, and society are shaped by core beliefs and values. I firmly believe that Religion in and of itself is not the enemy, ignorance is!

poolmom
49
Points
poolmom 10/15/09 - 09:54 am
0
0
Cobweb if you are a christian

Cobweb if you are a christian you should be glad they were giving away bibles at the school. It is up to us as parents to check it out to make sure we agree with the bible itself. As long as it is legitimate and it states the only way to Heaven is through our Lord Jesus Christ and accepting him as our personal Lord and Savior and knowing he die for "our" sins. Than there should be no problem with it!

Shame on u!

ForHim
2
Points
ForHim 10/15/09 - 10:17 am
0
0
Amen, poolmom!

Amen, poolmom!

SusieQ
1
Points
SusieQ 10/15/09 - 10:42 am
0
0
This man needs to seek out

This man needs to seek out God and not become so upset over something so trivial. I had a friend that belong to a religion that does not give Christmas gifts, but told me she loved my children so much she wanted to give them something. She gave them a Bible from her religion. I Thank her ,took the gift and checked it out and my children never read it because it wasn't our belief. No hard feelings and no lost friendship!

crackertroy
540
Points
crackertroy 10/15/09 - 10:43 am
0
0
I suppose he'd rather them
Unpublished

I suppose he'd rather them give his 5th grader a condom.

MyTake
0
Points
MyTake 10/15/09 - 11:13 am
0
0
Kids are exposed to religion,

Kids are exposed to religion, with or without anyone's permission, and they will have to learn to deal with it in their own way.

jackfruitpaper833
41
Points
jackfruitpaper833 10/15/09 - 11:36 am
0
0
Was a pic of Obama stuffed

Was a pic of Obama stuffed inside of it maybe?

OBX
0
Points
OBX 10/15/09 - 11:41 am
0
0
Jackfruit the picture of

Jackfruit the picture of Obama was stuffed in the Koran....jeez don't you know anything....snerk

gnx
7
Points
gnx 10/15/09 - 11:41 am
0
0
I don't see what the big deal

I don't see what the big deal is. It's not like the Gideons haven't been doing this for years. I remember them passing out the small Bibles in our elementary schools more than 40 years ago. The children who did not want them didn't take them and no one pressured them to do otherwise. It was that simple. Why do people who don't believe in something want to complain so much when they expect us to keep our mouths shut if they do or say something we don't agree with? I guess free speech is only a right as long as what you say agrees with my way of thinking? How stupid is that?

3M3T1B
9
Points
3M3T1B 10/15/09 - 12:09 pm
0
0
I am sure the Church of the

I am sure the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster or Pastafarianism would not be welcomed.

corgimom
32527
Points
corgimom 10/15/09 - 12:41 pm
0
0
If you want your child to

If you want your child to bring a Bible home from school, put them in Christian school. And kids being kids, if somebody didn't take one, another would be sure to say, loudly, "You didn't take a Bible? What, you aren't Christian?" If a Gideon Bible means so much to people, call them. They will be happy to give you one.

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