Free Good Books for school children

Science textbooks are expensive so one would think everyone would be happy about the free books being handed out to all students by the South Iron Elementary School in Annapolis, Missouri. Wouldn't you know it, some activist Federal judge stopped it:

A federal judge ordered a small-town school to suspend a program that gives free Bibles to students, saying it improperly promotes Christianity.

U.S. District Court Judge Catherine Perry also scolded school officials for continuing the program after warnings that it violated the Constitution.

South Iron Elementary in Annapolis, a town of 300 in southeastern Missouri, has quietly allowed Gideons International to hand out Bibles to fifth-graders for years. After concerns were raised last year, the then-superintendent consulted with the district's attorneys and insurance company and recommended that the handouts stop, but the school board voted to continue them.

Acting on behalf of two sets of parents from the district, the American Civil Liberties Union sued in February in federal court in St. Louis.

"The defendants were repeatedly told that their actions violated the Constitution, but they chose not to heed those cautions," Perry wrote in the preliminary injunction issued Wednesday. (Florida TV station)

So you can't hand out bibles? What's next? Teaching evolution?

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I wonder how many 5th graders there are in any given year in a town of 300.

And Revere, come on; it's Bibles not bibles. Sheesh. This is the flippin Word of God we're talking about here. You know, not just truth but Truth.

edmund (sorry, Edmund): flippin Word of god (or is it Flippin word of God or flippin word Of god, or . . . ) indeed.

The trouble with this whole topic is that Sarcasm falls victim to Irony which is, as we All know, deaD. So i'M guessing you are dishing up sarcasM, but these days it's hard to tEll. Ironic, isn't it?

Why not start handing out the Koran, the Torah, some books on the Hindu religion, maybe some books on Buddha as well? Or better yet, how about a book on ALL the possible religions of the world? There isn't just one, Edmund.
And don't say flippin' it's just a euphamism for f%^king and you know it.

If someone were handing out the Koran, the Torah, or books on Hindu religion, would it receive the same animosity as handing out a Bible? Why are people so afraid of the Bible? No one can force you to believe anything you don't want to believe. No one can force Christianity on anyone, anymore than Buddhism can be forced on anyone. I have no problem with any of the above mentioned were handed out, and I thank God (however You perceive Him, or don't) that our constitution does not dictate that we receive in our schools only one book to study in each academic field, with all others banned. What worries me about this banning, that our Constitution not only promotes and sustains the illegality of handing out this book, is the possibilities it implies. What future books or sources of information could be proclaimed illegal just because some people felt the information should not be shared....sciences, mathmatics, literature? Smacks of future book burning to me. There is now a precedence in our own Constitution. That not only worries me, it frightens me.

I am amused every time I see Truth substituted for truth. This is especially common in Christian and other religious rhetoric.

Why? If Truth is somehow different than truth, then it follows that one of the two is false. (True and false are in binary opposition, so not true = false, and not false = true.)

Judy, nobody is banning the Bible. The Gideons are an evangelical group expressly dedicated to the promotion of Christianity.

They were being invited into the only K-6 school in Annapolis during classroom time and presenting a speech literally promoting the Bible and Christianity as the one true way to salvation and then handing out their abbreviated versions of the book which contained only psalms and proverbs, along with an area to sign in confirmation of giving one's life to Jesus.

You can't do that. It's a public school. It's not a church. There's nothing wrong with having a bible at a school, or even making one available as an educational reference. But you can't have evangelical groups coming in and actually pushing religion on students.

Here is the link to the legal complaint:

Judy: Why pass out any books that proselytize? Studying religions, like studying different cultures, is permitted. The Constitution has been around for 200 years and religion isn't banned (far from it), so you don't need to worry on that account. Book burning is usually done by religious fanatics, not atheists, freethinkers or secularists generally, so you don't have to worry about that either.

Edmund: Thank you so much for the link. I was under the erroneous conclusion that they had only passed out Bibles to any and all takers, not knowing these children were forced by authorities over them to accept them. I was not aware of the actual circumstances, which proves ignorance is not bliss. You are correct, as well as the lawsuit, that this cannot be allowed. Again, thank you.

Revere: I only meant to say that IF any books that proselytize are allowed to be handed out, then none should be disallowed. Different viewpoints. But again, I have to say my thinking was in error. Please forgive my hysteria, my only excuse is too much caffiene in my coffee.

It would be fine if they stuck to the Old Testament. That thing'll scare anyone away, except for the naughty bits which are just the thing for 5th graders.

I only read the naughty bits, never touched the rest of it. The prose is even less penetrable than Lard of the Bling Bling, and the names even less memorable.

By Craig Shergold (not verified) on 09 Sep 2006 #permalink

I don't have a problem with free Bibles as long as there are also free copies of the sacred texts of all of the other major world religions, all made available on equal terms and conditions. But that was the problem here (aside from the overt proselytizing): this was not an exercise in promoting learning about religion in general, it was an exercise in promoting one specific religion to the exclusion-by-absence of others. That's where it runs afoul of the Constitution and our legal traditions.

Judy, et al: There is a great deal of resistance in many parts to the invitation to study other world religions.

This happened in a college setting, no less. I thought it was a great idea to expose young adults to the faith claimed by a part of the world that was so much on our nation's conscious after 9/11. Apparently, many students and their parents were afraid these impressionable kids (who could readily enlist to go kill Muslims) would be tainted in some way, or perhaps swayed by learning about the Koran.

Also, don't forget the annual hullabaloo when communities fight over celebrating Halloween. Schools often turn it into "Harvest Festival" and ban all costumes or allow only Pilgrim/Indian stuff. My fundie cousin wouldn't allow her sons to Trick or Treat, but was happy to let them dress up as soldiers and play war, as that was Patriotic and Daddy is an army Doc. Sadly, I think the medicine he "practices" is mostly a dress-up game, too. His own brother-in-law wouldn't trust him to treat a hangnail.

See revere? I can be intolerant to religious nuttery too, given the right conditions. ;)

By wenchacha (not verified) on 10 Sep 2006 #permalink

Call me crazy, but I believe faith - any faith - should come from within, not be thrust upon someone from outside sources. I know too many who only believe what they're told to believe, by their parents, by their friends, their pastors and churches. Ask them "why" do you believe this or that, and they'll respond "cause so-and-so or some-such-book says that's the way it is." I was raised Catholic and never given a choice in the matter as a child. At 20, I finally started thinking for myself and realized how ridiculous my religion truly was. For me, anyway. And thus began my own spiritual studies. If children were actually exposed to all the many belief systems and major faiths and religions at an early age (before prejudice sets in), not only would they be more aware of their own internal beliefs and thus better armed to make their own decisions regarding faith, but they would also likely grow up with more tolerance for and understanding of other religions. It always amuses me when Christian friends condemn my beliefs without ever even asking me what I believe! They don't even want to know! (See no evil, hear no evil...) "Islam" today seems to be a dirty word - and yet how many of those who fear/shun Muslims actually know what it is that they believe? Gindy's right, give kids the Bible, the Torah, the Quran, and teach them about all the other faiths as well. And then let them decide.

Cougar: I agree with you that any faith should come from within, not thrust upon someone from outside sources. That is the only way to attain real faith. Most, and I did say most, not all, parents bring their children up to have a set of values that will make them solid, caring citizens; realizing that when they get older they will make their own choices. I feel that the reason Islam, and even Christianity, seems to be a dirty word today is because of "religious" fanatics who had no clear understanding of the creeds they claim to live by have done horrible things in the name of the God they "claim" to serve. Everyone here probably has some bad memories of religious fervor, so no need to cite instances.

g510: Having had most of the afternoon to think on this, I have to say that this went beyond overt proselytizing. Our children are taught to obey authority (or else is implied), and the dreaded authority "principal" ushered two fifth grade classes along with teachers to a classroom during school hours and required them to listen. I have forgotten a lot about my school years but I do remember that no one was allowed to sit out an assembly. These children had to accept Bibles from the Gideons, how could they not? Then to be asked to make a decision for Christ with just this little bit of information in front of authority figures and no doubt some peer pressure? I am a Christian, and I am more outraged the more I think of it. Children don't forget these feelings when they are older. I would have sued to stop this also. Okay, I've said enough, I'll shut up now.

I think about this subject a lot and as we all know the term that government will make no law that establishes religions. Judge Roy found that out in Bama and got dropped from his judgeship too. I get into it all the time with my Baptist sister in law who thinks the The Ten Commandments should be inside the courthouse and on the walls of schools. We dodge it by calling it "historical documents.

Well I call it a dodge and BULLSHIT! We can change the law to our detriment or not. Not is my vote, and thats from someone who is religious. Stop the dodge and drop the issue. I want my judges and jurors to be only biased by whats in their hearts, not whats on a wall. I want my libraries full of all sorts of political shit by the boxloads and if they want to post a picture of my lefty friend Revere then DO IT because he makes some screamingly good points on Sunday Sermonette. It doesnt change my faith, only tests it.

Schools shouldnt load the heads of children with anything other than reading, writing and arithmetic. That includes the pledge. I say it everytime someone pops up with it at an assembly, but I dont think a kid who is below the age of 10 can figure it out. Look up Effective Consent. The law is specific there, they cant legally make a decision to do it or not. Nor should it be fomented on them. I have quite a few years in the military thank you and I would defend the right of anyone that wants to burn a flag, take the ten out of the courthouses, and above all put Revere into the libraries. He pulls from the left, I pull from the right. What we get as a result is a very good middle. You legislate it, order it, or demand it then we are screwed and screwed big because the founding fathers were a lot brighter than we are today. They were rebels and giants in the same breath.

By M. Randolph Kruger (not verified) on 11 Sep 2006 #permalink