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No More Gideon Bible Distributions, Humanist Group Warns Kansas School District

For Immediate Release

Contact:

Merrill Miller, 202-238-9088 ext. 105, merrillmiller@americanhumanist.org

Monica Miller, 202-238-9088 ext. 120, mmiller@americanhumanist.org

(Junction City, KS, Nov. 10, 2015)—The American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center sent a complaint letter to officials at Geary County Schools USD 475 in Junction City, Kansas, and at Seitz Elementary School in Fort Riley, Kansas, on behalf of a parent of an atheist student who felt unwelcome at her public school during a Gideon Bible distribution.

On November 4, teachers told students that they could leave class to get Gideon Bibles, which were displayed on a table, and then return to their classroom to pack up for the day. The table was located in a hallway outside the fourth and fifth grade classrooms, which many students need to pass to leave school. After watching her classmates receive Gideon Bibles, the student felt uncomfortable. The student’s mother spoke with the elementary school principal, superintendent and director of teaching and learning, none of whom addressed her concerns. The principal even confirmed that the school had distributed Gideon Bibles for years and would continue to do so the following year.  

“Numerous courts have held that authorizing the distribution of Gideon Bibles at public schools during school hours violates the Establishment Clause, and this is particularly egregious in elementary schools where children are impressionable and more susceptible to peer pressure and coercion,” said Monica Miller, senior counsel with the Appignani Humanist Legal Center.

“This is a subversive attempt to intimidate students into accepting the Bible in a public school,” said Roy Speckhardt, American Humanist Association executive director. “Public school teachers should focus on educating, not religious proselytizing.”      

The American Humanist Association demands that the school and its authorities will stop permitting the distribution of Bibles or other religious materials during school hours in elementary and middle schools. It also demands that all teachers be informed that they must not attempt to persuade or invite students to take Bibles during class time.

A copy of the letter can be viewed here.

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Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., the American Humanist Association (AHA) works to protect the rights of humanists, atheists, and other nontheistic Americans. The AHA advances the ethical and life-affirming philosophy of humanism, which—without beliefs in any gods or other supernatural forces—encourages individuals to live informed and meaningful lives that aspire to the greater good of humanity.

Special thanks to the Louis J. Appignani Foundation for their support of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center.