Atheist Group Goes After Okla. Schools For ‘Illegal’ Bible Distribution

Brittany M. Hughes | February 17, 2015 | 9:09pm EST
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The Gideons International says it has placed some 1.9 billion Bibles and New Testaments in hotels, schools, colleges, prisons, hospitals and medical offices. (Photo: Gideons)

( – The Freedom From Religion Foundation, an atheist group, expanded its campaign to keep Bibles from being given to public school students to Oklahoma this week, sending letters to 26 school districts across the state complaining of “illegal” Bible distribution by The Gideons International.

After learning the Bibles were being passed out, FFRF attorney Andrew Seidel wrote “strong letters” to the school systems alleging the schools were violating the U.S. Constitution by allowing the Christian group, known for handing out Bibles in schools, hotels and prisons across the country, to bring Bibles into classrooms.

“It is unconstitutional for public school districts to permit the distribution of bibles as part of the public school day,” said the letter, according to an FFRF press release. “Courts have uniformly held that the distribution of bibles to students at public schools is prohibited,”

Seidel also accused the Gideons of “illegal” and “predatory conduct” toward children.

“Parents carefully instruct their children not to accept any gifts from strangers. The Gideon practice of distributing bibles to schoolchildren teaches them to ignore that guidance," he stated.

The letter asked the school districts to halt all Bible distribution.

“It's time for school officials in Oklahoma to do their job, enforce the law and protect students from the Gideons,” FFRF co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor said in the release.

This is not the first time FFRF has blasted public school systems over this issue. Last year, after a long series of legal battles, FFRF successfully prevented Orange County Public Schools in Florida from allowing Bibles to be passively distributed to high school students on National Religious Freedom Day in January.

WorldChangers of Florida, a Christian group, had been placing Bibles on tables in common areas in local high schools for students who wished to take one.

In response, FFRF won the right to distribute its own materials on the same day, including an explicit pamphlet entitled “An X-Rated Book: Sex and Obscenity in the Bible.”

After months of court battles with FFRF, as well as continued promises by the atheist group and the Satanic Temple to pass out their own materials to students, the school district amended its distribution policy to ban all religious materials from being made available to students by outside groups.

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