Not quite, but I found at article at Fox News yesterday about a school in South Carolina that received some bibles from a well-meaning group most will know by name: Gideons International. The “sacred books” were dropped at the school office for any kid who wanted one. Ginger Strivelli’s 12 year old son wanted one, apparently, but being pagan and a practicing witch, she found this troublesome. After talking it over with school officials, they stated that anyone could donate their religious texts to the school. Strivelli chose to test that by bringing some spells books to the school. She was turned away.
“Buncombe County School officials are currently reviewing relevant policies and practices with school board attorneys,” the district announced in a written statement. “During this review period, no school in the system will be accepting donations of materials that could be viewed as advocating a particular religion or belief.”
The school board is expected to address the issue at its next meeting Feb. 2. According to legal experts, the First Amendment gives public schools two clear choices when it comes to the distribution of religious texts.
“You can either open your public school up to all religious material, or you can say no religious material,” Michael Broyde, a professor and senior fellow at Emory University’s Center for the Study of Law and Religion said. “You can’t say, ‘You can distribute religious material, but only from the good mainstream faiths.'”
Of course, Fox quotes the ones beaking about the country “being founded on Judeo-Christian principles” like that’s going to put the foot down and stop the argument in its tracks. But at least they don’t stop there.
While many Weaverville Christians see recent events as a threat to tradition, others see a purpose in enforcing church-state separation in public schools, because even the nation’s traditional faiths have divisions.
“Many Christians have stood up and said they agree with me too,” Strivelli said. “Because, as much as they may like the Bible, they don’t want Jehovah’s Witnesses coming in with Watch Tower (magazines) or Catholics coming in and having them pray the Rosary.”
CBC caught the story via Fox as well and set up a poll – Should schools allow the distribution of religious texts to students? 63% of people who’ve responded so far picked “No, religion has no place in schools.” They also include a link to an incident with the Gideons in Charlottetown, PEI.
Last week Arsenault received a notice from the school asking him to fill out a form if he wanted his daughter to opt out of getting a bible from The Gideons.
Arsenault called the school board.
“I’ll be held responsible for my child’s belief system, not the schools,” Arsenault told CBC News Tuesday.
“I’m not against religion, any form or fashion. We’ve got a wide variety of Bibles here. We even went as far as to spend money to buy an English version of the Qur’an, I just don’t like how the schools are getting involved in handing out these religious books.”
Especially if the school is supposed to be a public secular one instead of a separate Catholic or Protestant one. School teachers can teach kids about morality and ethics and good behaviour without trying to push the bible on them at the same time. Schools should push for a secular equality for their students, not promote one religion over others, either by design or accident. Leave that tactic to the parents.