DELTA, Co. — A professing atheist group is expressing disappointment as officials with a Colorado school district have deemed some of its literature “inappropriate” that was to be placed in area middle schools.
As previously reported, the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF), Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers and the Satanic Temple applied to place atheist and satanic-themed materials in Delta County schools after officials declined to stop Gideon International from making Bibles available for students.
With permission, Gideons had placed Bibles in December, prompting a student to complain, and FFRF to seek to put an end to the distribution. But when the district would not budge, FFRF applied to place their own materials.
“The school district is not required to maintain this open forum and is free to close it rather than allow FFRF to distribute materials,” attorney Andrew Seidel wrote in a letter to the district. “We do not think schools should be a battleground for religious ideas. But when schools allow the Gideons to prey on children, their message of eternal damnation for any who don’t believe in their God must be countered.”
While some parents were opposed to the idea of having atheist and satanic literature made available for children, Kurt Clay, the assistant superintendent of the Delta County School District, told reporters that the district couldn’t turn down groups such as FFRF because of way the district distribution policy is written.
“The way the policy is written, cannot discriminate what is handed out. We just have to follow the process,” he said.
The district also noted in a statement that the only prohibitions are materials containing obscenity, pornography or violence, those that promote hate, are commercial in nature or promote a candidate in an election.
FFRF had planned to place its brochures “An X-Rated Book: Sex and Obscenity in the Bible,” “Why Women Need Freedom From Religion” and “What Does the Bible Say About Abortion,” among others, in schools on April 1. However, the Delta County School District took issue with the covers of two of the publications.
“An X-Rated Book: Sex and Obscenity in the Bible” features an image of a Bible groping a woman as it places its hands under her dress, and “What Does the Bible Say About Abortion” features a naked Adam and Eve.
“It is inappropriate in a school setting; we would not allow any of the high school students to wear or otherwise display such a cartoon,” Clay said of the “x-rated” brochure. “Why would we allow them to carry it in the building? It may also qualify as hate literature, demeaning women.”
He also deemed the nude Adam and Eve cover to be pornographic.
As a result, both booklets were not allowed to be placed in junior high schools, but were permitted for high school distribution.
“Albrecht Dürer’s famous depiction of Adam and Eve in Paradise can be called many things, but it is not pornography,” Seidel responded in a statement. “Dürer completed this engraving in 1504, and it is one of the most technically precise woodcuttings in all of art history. It has been displayed in the world’s foremost museums and is a staple of most art history classes. The idea that this picture is somehow pornographic is, to be frank, absurd.”
“The school district misses the point entirely,” FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor also remarked on the “x-rated” brochure. “The cover image is a feminist cartoon whose message is that the Bible itself demeans women.”
The atheist organization says that it placed stickers over the groping graphic as a compromise. They read, “censored by order of Delta County Schools.”