A Slippery Slope

If you allow the distribution of Bibles in schools, it was only a matter of time before we showed to take advantage of that silly lapse in the law.

Oh yes, because the Bible is allowed to be distributed in 11 Orange County high schools in Florida, Atheists have started campaigning to distribute their literature there.

I think the most telling quote from the article is

But Daniel Koster, a 17-year-old senior at Wekiva High School, said there were adults and a student from theFellowship of Christian Athletes sitting at a table at his school, and he saw them talk to students. There were two tables, Koster said, one directly outside the cafeteria and one inside, near the serving line. Rodriguez said he would investigate.

“I should be able to go to class without being pressured by Christian groups to join them,” said Koster, who is president of the Wekiva Atheist and Secular Alliance. He said it was impossible to avoid the table. “It is being pushed on you because you have to go to school and you have to encounter it — unless you want to be hungry all day.”

Oh yes, they cannot approach you but they can make it hard for you to not approach them. A modern day rice conversion tactic.

And I agree with the article, if it were a Muslim group distributing the Koran there would be a ludicrous backlash.

It’s a terrible shame, the Bible doesn’t belong in the school, because the Bible was allowed the only way to keep things fair is to allow pretty much anyone who wants to flog religion there.

If the Bible is allowed in Schools, is Education allowed in Church?


  1. glodson says

    The American Atheists have a response for it. It can be read here. Basically, they are going to try to set up tables to distribute books by Madalyn Murray O’Hair on Atheism. Which might really get up the noses of the christians even more so than a Muslim group handing out Korans. Well, maybe, it depends on the type of wingnut out there.

    With this, if the school board denies permission, they are clearly violating the law and will face legal action swiftly. And if they allow it, at least an equal voice will be given to the atheists.

    In some ways, this is one of the lesser violations of the Establishment Clause I have seen. When I was in high school, I had a biology teacher flat out refuse to teach evolution because of her religious beliefs. The only way I learned about it in high school was to read the chapters devoted to Evolution myself out of curiosity. My civics understanding was lacking at that point, and I didn’t realize that she was acting illegally, and I really didn’t see the point of not teaching it after I read the chapters. I didn’t fully understand it, being a 14 year old kid, but I was long used to the notion of deep time and the Earth being close to 4.5 billion years old. I didn’t learn of Young Earth Creationism until later.

    Since my deconversion about a year ago, I’ve been so happy that I hardly paid attention during Sunday School and Sermons in Church. I missed so much misinformation thanks to an entire lack of attention, and an interest in trying to figure out the sciences served me much better than knowing when what mythical hero in the bible committed an act of genocide.

  2. glodson says

    Shit, I should also report that I read that release originally at JT’s blog at Patheos. Just to give credit where credit is due.

  3. brucegee1962 says

    At the community college where I work, the 7th day adventists had a table handing out books — including one denying evolution. Since we teach actual science here, I contacted one of our biology teachers, who told me that he’s asked the administration if there’s anything we could do to stop them. He was told there isn’t — we have to let any old loons come onto our grounds who ask.

    If anyone knows of any good legal grounds we could use to keep at least this particular book off our campus, I’d be grateful. I feel there’s a certain intellectual umbrella that an academic institution provides, which they are taking advantage of.

  4. glodson says

    @3 Sorry, I think you are out of luck. A public high school is run by the government, and thus the Establishment Clause applies. This, I’m sure you know but for people who might not know, is what knocks down every attempt to include creationism in science classrooms here in the states. In that, the teacher is acting as an agent of the state, so the inclusion of their own religion as a lesson(or the school boards as per Kitzmiller v. Dover or even the State Legislature) is the same as the government adopting a religious position.

    This doesn’t apply to a community college, which while they often receive tax money aren’t run by the state. And the campus aren’t closed like a high school’s campus either. A student in high school has to be there, for the most part. They are a captive audience. Unlike the students at a college campus, who can leave at will. And if the group is invited by a school group, like a religious student organization, they have a right to be there, sadly.

    There is a bright spot as the skeptical students, the freethinking students, and the atheist students do have a bit more freedom to express their views. The only other positive is that there are plenty of people on campus who can provide a direct counterpoint to the lies of those books and groups. Wish I had an answer that was different, but then maybe college is the time for that. Maybe it is good that these groups are allowed on a college campus. I hate that people get suckered into those lies, but it is a great chance to let the students think critically, see the evidence and be rational for themselves.

  5. Rich Woods says

    So if a student group were to invite Westboro Baptist Church to a community college, there’s nothing the administration could do to stop them?

  6. M, Supreme Anarch of the Queer Illuminati says

    glodson @ 4 —

    At least in some places (here in California, for instance), community colleges are run by the state. It’s because they’re state-run that they’re bound by viewpoint neutrality if they allow outside groups (or student groups) to set up tables, etc.; a private college, on the other hand, would be able to restrict which groups can visit for recruiting purposes (which could mean “no creationist groups,” “no religious groups,” or even “only creationists allowed”).

  7. says

    A couple of things missed, both in the article, and in a few of the comments. This is for any potential future reader who may happen across this blog entry, and make their way down tot he comment section. Queer Illuminati @6 is correct, but I shall expand upon it.

    Avicenna is not an American, so I am unsure how much he knows or should know about how American laws and customs work in regards to religion in schools. Now, Christian groups certainly do have a right to set up shop, handing out literature, so long as it is student-organized, without any help from the faculty, or any other paid administrator. A state-run/state-funded school, such as a public high school, or a community college, has no say, nor should have any say, as to whether religious literature handed out by the students is allowed. Always with the caveat that no teacher, professor, principal, or any other paid administrator from the school system assists in anyway whatsoever; Perhaps a janitor might be able to unlock a supply closet, or allow access to tables and chairs; but that would pretty much be the extent to which a school that receives any government funding whatsoever may get “involved” with religious activities on school property.

    Which is why I always found the proponents of vouchers to be laughable. To those who do not know what the voucher argument was, many Christian groups, particularly the Catholic Church, attempted to allow the government to provide “vouchers” so kids can attend the more expensive private christian schools of their choice. The reason why their arguments are laughable, is because it would either be a direct violation of the First Amendment, or the schools that receives even a single student on such a voucher program would have to COMPLETELY forgo virtually ALL religious teaching and/or religious symbols throughout the entire school in order to comply with the First Amendment.

    But yes, just because a student crosses the threshold into a school, even a public high school, does not forgo their First Amendment right to religious freedom, nor their right to express said freedom. They also do not forgo their right to assemble either. Only paid employees do, for the simple reason that they are receiving their paychecks from the government, and are therefore, considered to be “agents of the government.” They cannot teach, support, nor acknowledge religion in any capacity whatsoever. (A few minor things can certainly be reasonably overlooked. Such as a teach making a little comment in passing.)

    And yes, even the WBC can and should be afforded their say on a school’s ground if they so choose, so long as they do not target individual students going to and coming from class, that would easily violate anti-bullying rules or harassment laws.

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