Kentucky, July 16, 2013
In response to the American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) recent request to end the distribution of Gideon Bibles in Kentucky public schools, the Christian legal group “Alliance Defending Freedom” is fighting back.
The ACLU’s formal letter, which was sent to various Kentucky school districts, argues that the free distribution of Bibles violates both state and federal Constitutions.
“[T]his practice violates both federal and state constitutional guarantees barring governmental endorsement of religion, and it also impermissibly encroaches upon parents’ prerogative to direct the religious upbringing of their children,” the letter says.
“By allowing an outside group to distribute sectarian materials directly to public elementary school students during school hours, school officials create the impression that the school endorses those religious views which subjects the students to ‘subtle coercive pressure’ to accept the proffered religious materials.”
In response to the ACLU’s letter, Alliance Defending Freedom has sent a letter of their own to the same Kentucky school district.
“Public schools should encourage, not shut down, the free exchange of ideas,” the letter says. “That’s why the schools frequently allow a wide array of groups to distribute literature of various sorts to students. Singling out the Gideons while allowing other groups to distribute literature would be clearly unconstitutional.”
“Kentucky schools should not allow the ACLU to brow beat them into a constitutional violation,” it continues. “The First Amendment does not allow religious speech to be singled out for discrimination.”