By Nigel Boys
After supposedly receiving a complaint from a parent of a child at Seitz Elementary School, Junction City, Kansas, the American Humanist Association (AHA) wrote a letter to the principal and the school district demanding they stop the distribution of Bibles.
The letter, sent last week to Superintendent Corbin Witt and Principal Jodi Testa, stated that on November 4 the school permitted the distribution of Bibles by representatives of Gideon International.
The humanist organization demanded that the practice of distributing Gideon Bibles be stopped forthwith because the school and the district were in violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment by allowing it to continue.
The AHA was assured on Friday by an attorney for Geary County Schools USD 475 that the district would no longer permit the distribution of Gideon Bibles at any of their schools, according to Christian News.net.
The AHA claimed that “the Bible distribution made the student feel extremely uncomfortable” and “she also felt that the school was pushing religion on her.”
The teachers had not forced the children to choose a Bible, nor had they interrupted classes to allow the distribution, but told them during pack-up time at the end of the day, they could leave the classroom and choose a Bible if they desired to do so. However, the parent who complained felt that her daughter was being forced into doing so and consequently complained to the offices of Witt and Testa.
“She spoke with the superintendent’s secretary, who insisted that the schools are within their rights to have the Gideon’s distribute Bibles as long as the children are not forced to take them,” the AHA letter outlined. “The principal indicated that the Gideon’s would return next year to distribute their Bibles to elementary school children and that the school would not cease this practice.”
Claiming that the school district was in violation of the First Amendment by allowing the distribution of Bibles at their schools, the AHA demanded the district no longer gave authorization to the Gideon’s to continue this practice.
“It is beyond clear that the school district violated the First Amendment by assisting in the distribution of Gideon Bibles to elementary school students,” the letter read. “Because the law prohibiting Gideon Bible distribution is well-settled… not only will the school district itself be liable for this constitutional infringement… including in the form of the payment of attorney’s fees, but each and every school official and employee involved may be found personally liable in their individual capacities as well.”
Monica Miller, senior counsel for the AHA told KSNT News that she felt that the mother’s genuine concerns were being dismissed by the school administration and the district.
In the letter sent by Witt and Testa, giving them a week to respond to the AHA or they would initiate legal action, Miller wrote, “Seitz Elementary School facilitated the Gideon’s in distributing Bibles to a captive audience of elementary school children.”
“Please consider this written assurance that the district will no longer facilitate the Gideon’s in distributing Bibles in our school district,” Mark Edwards, an attorney for the district wrote to the AHA on Friday.
Naming the father of the student who felt pressured to claim a Bible as Thomas F, KSNT News said that he told them this week that he felt that it was a big deal to his family, because it opens doors to a lot of other organizations.
Thomas further added that his family went to the AHA for help because “Finding support is difficult to do in this community or even in this country.” He added that this was not the first time he had contacted the AHA, as he had done so before when similar incidents happened at other schools.
Despite the fact that the school district has promised to stop the Gideon’s from distributing Bibles at their schools, which they have reportedly been doing for over 15 years, Thomas F was said that he was not satisfied with the outcome.
“From my point of view, I find that difficult to take in,” Thomas F told the news outlet. He added that until there is a complete ban of all religious materials in Geary County public schools, he will continue to feel concerned for the students.