For Immediate Release
(Junction City, KS, Nov. 13, 2015)—The American Humanist Association received written assurances today from Geary County Schools USD 475 in Junction City, Kansas, that it will immediately cease authorizing the distribution of Gideon Bibles during school hours.
“We’re pleased with the school’s commitment to the First Amendment and protecting public students’ right to learn in an environment free from state-endorsed religious influence,” said Monica Miller, senior counsel with the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center.
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. The principal confirmed that the school had distributed Gideon Bibles for years and would continue to do so the following year.
The American Humanist Association sent a complaint letter on November 10 on behalf of a parent of an atheist student who felt unwelcome during a Gideon Bible distribution. On November 13, the district responded to the American Humanist Association’s demands, providing it with written assurances that the district will no longer facilitate the Gideons in distributing bibles in its schools.
The letter from the American Humanist Association can be found here, and the school district’s response can be found here. The school district also sent a second letter stating that teaching staff would be given training on their duties under the First Amendment.
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.