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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momma mia
2
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momma mia 10/15/09 - 12:43 pm
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No religious groups have any

No religious groups have any right in the public schools as far as I'm concerned. Religious upbringing (or lack of it) should be entirely at the discretion of the parents.

dani
12
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dani 10/15/09 - 01:12 pm
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The child probably went home

The child probably went home feeling proud that she had a nice new book and got no thanks, just a reprimand.

sugar babe 74
0
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sugar babe 74 10/15/09 - 01:16 pm
0
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A regular Bible is not trying

A regular Bible is not trying to teach a one certain religion,and if the child wanted it her dad shouldn't be complaining ,what he should be doing is taking the Bible and teaching her what it says,and as far as I'm concerned the ACLU should be put out of business they stand up for to many wrong things

sugarbutton
902
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sugarbutton 10/15/09 - 01:33 pm
0
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I had to chuckle about silent

I had to chuckle about silent punishment and being watched if you didn't pick up a bible. I'm sure not all teachers are Christians, but I don't think anyone is going to ostricize the ones who don't participate. I would be delighted to see all children pick up a bible or any literature that teaches a higher power because this may be the only way the ever learn of a high power.

mable8
2
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mable8 10/15/09 - 02:04 pm
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I wonder just how outraged Mr

I wonder just how outraged Mr Wiley would have been if his daughter brought home a magazine loaded with porn...then, I could see the anger, but a bible? What does he read while visiting the church of his choice? And Big O, Islamic teachings are being taught in our schools in some areas and planned parenting resources are available to the older students at their respective schools (school counselors and nurses generally handle these items); as a matter of fact, some schools have handed out condoms to students in 9th grade in some places. I think Mr Wiley and some other folks are over-reacting; the separation of church and state merely means that the government will NOT dictate a nationally operated religion as they do in Europe. How do you feel about having our very young students singing praises to the big O to the tunes of Jesus Loves Me and The Battle Hymn of the Republic? Now that is something worth looking into--is the big O your messiah???? Sounds a lot like Korea's enforced endearment "Dear One" when referring to "President Kim".

BombquishaDavis
113
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BombquishaDavis 10/15/09 - 02:10 pm
0
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What da hay?? A Bible? Come

What da hay?? A Bible? Come on folks! You have evil folks working in schools, evil folks hanging outside of the schools waiting to prey on kids....As long as the child picked it up by her own free will, whats the issue? Obviously Bibles weren't discussed at home. If the parent didn't want the kid to have a bible, at ANY time, she would have known not to pick it up. Must have been a tough day at school and she needed a bible for reassurance. My child (10) has a whole rainbow collection of Gideon Bibles. Sho' wish he would start reading them!

disssman
6
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disssman 10/15/09 - 02:22 pm
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Mabel8 you are one sick

Mabel8 you are one sick uninformed individual who was obviously educated locally. To start with religion in Europe isn't "nationally operated" as you claim. Secondly you claim someone is teaching islamic teachings somewhere in our area. If you know where this is happening it is your responsibility, as an American who follows our laws, to identify the location. Then you keep talking about someone named "big O" that no one knows. You should actually practice what the schools taught you as a child, and identify people by their proper name, using pet names is usually reserved for teenage kids and not something an adult should practice. And lastly you assume that Mr. Wiley attends a church regularly when he actually may not want to partake of a money making house of worship filled with people who are only there to be recognized.

Just My Opinion
5630
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Just My Opinion 10/15/09 - 02:23 pm
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God bless the Gideons, and I

God bless the Gideons, and I hope and pray that the school system stands up to parents like this because they did nothing wrong here. If my child came home with a copy of the Koran, I'd say okay, let's look it over and see why we don't agree with it. If the child wanted to see the Bible...because I'm sure her parents don't own one...let her look at it and see if she's interested in it, or not. The girl is in the 5th grade and she's at an age where she is curious about things. Would the parents be happier if she came home with books about sex?? And I totally agree that I believe the school system would have given the same oppurtunity to other religions.

mable8
2
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mable8 10/15/09 - 02:55 pm
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dissman: Obviously you cannot

dissman: Obviously you cannot read and you incorrectly imply what I have stated. Islamic teachings are being taught in some places--I never said where. Furthermore, I am not "locally educated" as you claim and I will refer to that individual as the big O, whom you obviously know whom I am speaking of or you would not make your idiotic statement. I have read your posts and you certainly violate your own dictums--why castigate others who disagree with your viewpoints? I noticed you made no comments regarding the "endearing" hymns being sung to the big O--so obviously you agree that this is A-Ok with you.

pommom38
1496
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pommom38 10/15/09 - 03:04 pm
0
0
What? I can't believe this

What? I can't believe this even MADE the paper! I could understand the chaos about it if said bible's were handed out during lunch or class. If my child did this, then yea for him.. He should read the good book.. I would most certainly not be in an uproar over it.
But.. It still was on school property, so the school's now say it's ok to have church items there?

Jdog33
0
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Jdog33 10/15/09 - 03:26 pm
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Poolmom you are 100%

Poolmom you are 100% correct...........OBX/jackfruit your ignorance is showing.....................

baronvonreich
0
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baronvonreich 10/15/09 - 04:48 pm
0
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Just unbelieveable.

Just unbelieveable.

Vera Donavon
0
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Vera Donavon 10/15/09 - 04:49 pm
0
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No harm done. But if you're

No harm done. But if you're not a Christian, or even believe in God, this would rightly pizz some folks off. Gotta keep em separated. That is why the world is in the mess it is right now!!!!!!!

soldout
1280
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soldout 10/15/09 - 05:20 pm
0
0
Once again; Truth upsets,

Once again; Truth upsets, lies are not a problem.

corgimom
32412
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corgimom 10/15/09 - 06:51 pm
0
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"but I don't think anyone is

"but I don't think anyone is going to ostricize the ones who don't participate. " Been in a school lately? The adults wouldn't, but kids can be very cruel.

youbetcha
0
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youbetcha 10/15/09 - 07:50 pm
0
0
OMG It wasn't "Hustler" for

OMG It wasn't "Hustler" for crying out loud!! This so called parent is a "bone Head!"

Ushouldnthave
0
Points
Ushouldnthave 10/15/09 - 08:06 pm
0
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The sad thing is that the

The sad thing is that the bible offers lessons in morals, ethics, and faith, as well as a good view of the history of the middle east. Everyone can learn from it; even godless heathens.

quincyadams
0
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quincyadams 10/15/09 - 09:06 pm
0
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When the devil is sticking

When the devil is sticking that pitchfork up his dumb azz, let's see if he complains then!!!!

quincyadams
0
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quincyadams 10/15/09 - 09:17 pm
0
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This is a Christian nation,

This is a Christian nation, regardless of what obama bin laden says. If you don't like it, there are plenty of muslim nations you might feel more at home in, ha, ha!!!!

humbleopinion
0
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humbleopinion 10/15/09 - 09:56 pm
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My ex wife used to tell me

My ex wife used to tell me that she was going to bible study classes. I should have known something was going on when she came home with a Gideon bible.........

jsherrill
0
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jsherrill 10/16/09 - 01:46 am
0
0
I guess some of the writers

I guess some of the writers do not go to hotels for fear that a Gideon Bible might be hidden in a drawer.

wribbs
435
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wribbs 10/16/09 - 06:02 am
0
0
They pray and say the pledge

They pray and say the pledge of allegiance every morning at my son's school. His teacher even gives them bible verses. Check back with me in 20 years and let's compare Mr. Wiley's kid with mine.

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