ABILENE, TX — Wylie Independent School District is one of six Texas public school districts asked Thursday by the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas to disclose all information about distribution of Gideon Bibles and other religious information on its schools’ grounds.
The ACLU filed open records requests with school districts in Frisco, Marshall, Plano, Westwood (of Palestine), Wylie and Wichita Falls.
“We have received numerous complaints about the Gideon (International) distributions from parents and students in school districts all over the state. This is the first step in a statewide investigation,” said Lisa Graybill, legal director of the ACLU of Texas. “We are very concerned that some school districts are knowingly flouting the law.”
The open records request called for the named school districts to disclose religious information — including but not limited to Gideon Bibles — that was distributed or displayed during the 2007-08 and the 2008-09 school years or will be distributed or displayed during the last week and a half of the 2008-09 school year.
School districts are also asked to deliver records of individuals and organizations who requested permission to distribute or display religious information on each campus during the past two school years. Officials must include information that shows how each request was answered — approved or denied — and why.
The ACLU is also asking for all information relating to complaints lodged against the district regarding the distribution or display of religious information during the past two school years.
That would include all agendas, minutes, audio or video recordings of district school board meetings when such distribution and display was proposed, discussed or approved, according to an ACLU news release.
“When public school officials endorse the distribution of religious materials, they risk violating the Constitution, no matter what the religion,” Graybill said. “School endorsement of the Bible is no more acceptable than endorsement of any other religious text, like the Quran or Torah.”
The ACLU said its concerns included children as young as fifth-graders who had been targeted. Others were in middle school.
“For some children, having a Bible thrust at them goes against their religious beliefs. Because of the climate in many of the offending school districts, children who have voiced objections to this practice have been humiliated and shamed by their peers and, in some cases, by school district personnel,” said Terri Burke, ACLU of Texas executive director.
Are the Bibles being forced on children? Are they being made to stand in front of the class and read from them? Are they humiliated by their fellow students for not taking one (maybe they are...kids can definitely be cruel)?
The most common argument from the liberal side is 'separation of church and state,' and for the millionth time, that is NOT what the Constitution was providing. They were protecting us from a government controlled/enforced religion. Our forefathers were largely God-fearing men.
Seriously. How does allowing a private group to pass out Bibles ENDORSE a specific religion or text? When you find a Gideon Bible in the drawer at your hotel room, do you throw a fit proclaiming how religion is being thrown in your face? Sigh.
Why do we let the bitching of a few determine the lives of the rest of us? If you don't want one, don't take one. Say 'no thank you' and move on.